“I just love making people feel uncomfortable,” chuckles Coach Party lead vocalist and bassist Jess Eastwood down the phone to NME. The Isle of Wight band are no strangers to tackling such topics as self-hatred, tricky relationships and confronting one’s own inner demons in their lyrics, and when paired with their joyous, pint-spilling brand of indie rock, it’s a combination that so often works wonders.
Calling NME from “the middle of nowhere” on the island where she’s more used to seeing livestock than people, Eastwood is still quick to sing its praises — albeit by listing all of Newport’s fashion and fast food offerings. “We only have one music venue, so you can start to lose faith a bit as it’s so sheltered here,” she explains about the local music scene. “But we’re lucky that everyone’s so supportive of what fellow IOWers do.”
Coach Party burst onto the scene late last year with their frenzied garage hit ‘Oh Lola’ after being snapped up by new music connoisseurs Chess Club Records, who had taken a special trip to the island just to see the four-piece play live. Previously home to band favourites Swim Deep and Wolf Alice, signing to the label was, Eastwood says, a surreal moment.
“I always have this really toxic thought where I’m like: ‘Why? Why us? We’re just four of the most ordinary people from the Isle of Wight,’” Eastwood admits about her sense of imposter syndrome. But, after looking at the bigger picture, she’s also learned to praise herself and her bandmates: “When you’re in a band, you never factor in that you could get somewhere. But sometimes we just need to tell ourselves that we’re smashing it”.
Despite everything moving pretty quickly for Coach Party since the release of ‘Oh Lola’ in November 2019, the band have actually been brewing since 2017. Eastwood and guitarist Steph Norris started a non-descript “little something” after wanting to follow in the footsteps of The Big Moon, Mac DeMarco and Snail Mail.
“We couldn’t play very well, but we wrote a few songs together,” she reminisces about the band’s early days, noting that they then crossed paths with guitarist Joe Perry and drummer/producer Guy Page due to the close-knit nature of the music scene on the Isle of Wight. “We were recording with Guy and he really loved what we were doing, but he also gave us some suggestions on how we could make the tracks better. We trusted him so much that we just asked him to join.”
They still have that same level of trust three years later. Despite each member bringing a different kind of musical taste to the table (think Miley Cyrus, Weezer, The Maccabees and funk so niche that Eastwood avoids specifying Perry’s particularly obscure interest in the genre), the group ensure that everyone’s views are heard.
“We all trust each other 100% with what we love doing and what we love sounding like,” she explains about how they decide what makes the final cut. “The best part of being in a band is spitballing ideas. If we didn’t give each other’s suggestions a go, it wouldn’t be a group thing. We wouldn’t be a band.”
“Sometimes we just need to tell ourselves that we’re smashing it”
Bringing together all of their ideas and tastes is what makes the band work. From the scuzzy riffs derived from Sonic Youth and Nirvana on ‘Can’t Talk, Won’t’ to the sun-kissed melodies and vocal screeches heard on ‘Bleach’ that hark back to Wolf Alice and Black Honey, it’s a total group effort. They’re not reinventing indie rock, but their glitter-laden dancefloor fillers are far from a repeat of what’s come before.
Coach Party’s growth is unmistakable on their latest track ‘Really OK On My Own’, as they take the phrase ‘go hard or go home’ in a very literal sense both lyrically and sonically. There’s no doubt they’ve become more open and honest since their June-released debut EP ‘Party Food’: the stark confessions of “all I ever do is fear that we won’t end up together” and “don’t wanna be alone” completely contrast with the track’s powerhouse chorus that acts as a ‘pull yourself together, you’re better than this’ moment. It’s not hiding the song’s darker message, but instead brings that vulnerability into the norm: it really is OK to not be OK.
“The only song I can really remember writing from my feelings on the last EP was ‘Bleach’, whereas a lot of the upcoming tracks are written from myself,” Eastwood explains, adding that their newer, heavier sound frames this deeper style of songwriting. “It just came naturally. Writing gets a lot harder when a song’s really soft or really heavy, and we definitely wanted to go down the latter route. We explored that sound and were really happy with what we produced, so we laid it all down.”
Every forward movement that Coach Party have made so far has produced a “we’re getting somewhere” moment, from packing out their first European show in Hamburg back in January to finding a copy of their sold-out ‘Party Food’ vinyl on sale on eBay for £50. Being comfortable with voicing what we’re all thinking deep down is Coach Party’s latest success story — vocalising that through their rowdy, festival-singalong hooks just proves that, yet again, they’re onto a winner.
Coach Party’s new track ‘Really Ok On My Own’ is out today (October 27) on Chess Club Records.