The culmination of years of hard work, Isle of Wight alt-rockers COACH PARTY’s debut album is finally here.
Words: Steven Loftin.
Photos: Patrick Gunning.
Since 2019, Isle of Wight four-piece Coach Party have been knuckling down. Across three EPs in three years – starting with 2020’s ‘Party Food’ – they’ve been establishing their raucous reality ruckus, and 2023 is finally the year of their hotly anticipated debut album. It’s a moment the band have been building up in their heads since day one. “The allure of putting a debut album out – we’ve spoken about that so much, but not wanting to rush it, not wanting to do it for the sake of it,” explains guitarist Joe Perry.
‘Killjoy’ is a project that either marks the end or the beginning of chapter one – they haven’t decided yet. Either way, it’s a big bloody deal. “I feel like it holds more of an era of us,” vocalist and bassist Jess Eastwood adds. “That part of us from the start of the journey to now feels like, even though we had done EPs, I feel like it’s all of us up until now, and I feel that it’s more sacred than anything to me.”
The toil and trouble they’ve been mastering over the last four years is compounded into its runtime. It has their trademark snark – courtesy of Jess – ripping riffs, singalong choruses, and most of all, it’s got the future in its sights. Something they’re now realising has crept up on them.
“Recently, I’m realising how much has changed,” Jess says. “And that goes from how quickly you want to make it your life to do this, and then how quickly it is your life; and like, actually, this is not your full-time job. This is a lifestyle.”
“When we first started doing it, there was a lot more skirting around things that you want to say”Joe Perry
This idea is a world away from when the four of them – completed by guitarist Steph Norris and drummer Guy Page – first banded together in 2016. The Chess Club signees barely had a handful of gigs under their belt when the tastemaker label came calling in 2019.
Between the cycle of touring and recording, Coach Party have been earning their stripes. Their most recent expeditions have given them the scope of what band life can bring you, and all of these experiences play into ‘Killjoy’. Explaining that before it was christened, “We were looking at calling it ‘Interactions With People’,” says Jess. “Because that is the concept of the album.”
It indeed plays out like the observational diary of a group who have been and met a lot of people over the past few years. Experiences include pedestals people can be placed upon (‘Born Leader’), love (‘Always Been You’), and a dash of nihilism (‘What’s The Point In Life’). Having been able to wrestle with themselves and how far they can go, Joe mentions their attitude to tackling ‘people’ has changed. “When we first started doing it, there was a lot more skirting around things that you want to say, whether that’s humour or whatever… That’s kind of remained throughout, just not as afraid to say actually how you feel.”
One example is the swift change in perspective from 2021 EP ‘After Party’ cut ‘Everybody Hates Me’, to standout ‘Killjoy’ single ‘All I Want To Do Is Hate’. “It goes back to that and being more comfortable approaching what you want to say in a more matter-of-fact way, and [everything] was a bit more insecure back then – not within you, just in general!” Joe nods to Jess. “I’m more insecure now!” She blurts. “Oh my god, I just realised how much use ‘hate’!” Joe laughs.
Mentions of hate aside, Coach Party have certainly grown into their newfound lifestyle. They’re a bonafide rock band ready to pay service to those listening and to firmly establish their place. Their 2021 single ‘FLAG (Feel Like A Girl)’ is one monument to this. It’s Jess’s moment of demonstrating her vocal distaste for a certain type of person. “If you’ve got young girls or guys that have heard ‘FLAG’ and [say] it’s completely changed their life or helped [them] through something, I want to make sure that they know that that is the meaning, and I don’t want to let them down by being this person that’s not true to who they were when they wrote that track or whatever,” she says. A similar sentiment drives recent single ‘Micro Aggression’; it’s not always easy going.
A connection is where Coach Party’s lofty ambitions come to a head. They’ve seen first-hand what longevity and a studious fanbase can offer on their support runs, and for a solid group of mates from the Isle of Wight, they’ve not done half bad – and the rest is most certainly yet to come. Jess enthuses she is, “Hoping there’s some sort of tangible connection that people get through it.” They’ve not had the chance to give ‘Killjoy’ a proper airing yet. Their autumn headline tour is where it can all come to fruition, particularly Jess’ hungrily envisioned “chaos” for ‘All I Wanna Do Is Hate’. But for now, it’s time to bask in the glow of ‘Killjoy’.
“If we had the opportunity to tell ourselves what we’ve done year on year a year ago, how crazy we’d find it but also just so unexpected,” Joe marvels. “We didn’t ever expect these sorts of things to happen. That’s just the mindset we have. There’s obviously ambition, but maybe it’s pessimism of ‘that’d be nice, but who knows?’”
But with all this soaring success – what with the stadium shows and the like – what’s next? “Maybe we’ll be accused of being an industry plant!” The pair burst out laughing. ■
Taken from the October 2023 edition of Dork. Coach Party’s debut album ‘Killjoy’ is out 8th September.
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