Rising indie pop band Coast Modern found its way to the nation's capital Oct. 6, where it took the stage at 9:30 Club as the opening act for The Temper Trap's U.S. tour. Earlier that week, the band played a set at The Meadows Music and Arts Festival in New York, a slight derailment on the small venue path that the tour was originally taking.
Between photo shoots, 9:30 Club cupcake tastings and exploring the streets of northwest Washington, the duo, comprised of Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp, sat down with me to discuss performances, production and good laughs.
The Diamondback: How did the two of you meet one another?
Coleman Trapp: We were introduced.
Luke Atlas: Mutual friend. I had just moved to L.A., been there for like a week. Moved from Seattle. I didn't know a single soul, so someone was like, you should meet this guy. We played tunes on the first day, each other's tunes. We were like, "This is cool. We should work together. We should write." Soon after that, we started writing together, just random weird projects. Never stopped.
DBK: What is creating music with each other really like then? Do you share the same creative process?
CT: We have a similar process. I feel like … there's a common thread that you'll hear from a lot of writers and producers, which is like cultivating a chill environment where ideas can flow without judgment and keeping an open mind and not over thinking things.
LA: Yeah, it has to be kind of like playtime. We create this environment where we can get really weird and basically just mess around until something sounds right, creates a vibe —
CT: It's like surfing. You've got to ride the wave.
LA: Sometimes you crash and you go under, too deep.
CT: Sometimes you try too hard and you're just out of energy, and the day is over and your ass has been kicked and you have nothing to show for it.
DBK: What was recording your first single, "Hollow Life," like?
LA: It was just in my little home studio, like all the rest. We write and record everything in the same small studio.
CT: And the writing and recording process isn't a separate process. In fact, a lot of the vocals that we've released are the original demo vocals from the writing session, like "Hollow Life" and "The Way It Was."
LA: Yeah, because we work so quickly it's like, the beat starts forming … it's like Coleman is on the side humming shit and then we get on the mic — it's a very whirlwind process and at the end you're sort of just like, where did that come from?
DBK: Who or what inspires your music the most?
LA: It's hard to choose.
CT: Who's like the archgod of the scientology religion? Whoever that is. Zanthor or whatever.
LA: Maybe it's just like nature, a tree.
CT: Mama nature?
LA: Yeah. It's all wiggly. There are no straight lines.
DBK: What can fans expect from your upcoming album?
LA: It's going to be a wild ride.
CT: If you've heard our live show, you've heard some of it. But you'll get to hear the actual recording of it with all the bells and whistles and vibe. Maybe some new songs that aren't in our live show, but our live show is already packed with stuff that people haven't already heard.
DBK: Are you excited? Do you have it really well prepared?
CT: Nope. It's a shitshow.
DBK: So if the world were to end tomorrow, would you guys be confident in releasing your album tonight?
CT: Hell yeah. It's done.
DBK: You're really proud of it?
CT: Yeah, and it is what it is at that time. It's like songs we created without even thinking about it. "The Way It Was" was probably the last song we did. So before "The Way It Was" came out, we already had it all ready to go. And it represents that time we were producing music in Luke's bedroom.
DBK: You guys played your first show ever back in March. Do you have any good tour stories to tell?
LA: Tour is a mind eraser. Because you're so much in the moment, finding food —
CT: It's very much like survival mode, in a weird way. …I feel like there's no reflection on the tour, and then you get off the road and everything just sort of hits you. And it's like, "Whoa, what just happened?" But days off just exploring — like on our last tour we found ourselves at Yale University. It was across the street from the venue. …
LA: We tried to sneak into the Skull and Bones, the secret Yale society.
CT: I noticed the huge, ominous black doors and I was like, "Wait, that's the Skull and Bones."
DBK: Did you get in?
LA: It's very secure.
CT: But we took some irreverent photos from the steps.
LA: Meeting Matt Healy the other day was cool. He was very nice.
DBK: You two look a lot alike.
LA: Yeah I've been getting that for a while, so I was like, "I need to go talk to this guy." Plus, they stole our dressing room at the festival. It's not their fault. We were in one half of the trailer and they were in the other. After we played, they were like, "OK, you guys need to get out. The 1975 needs the whole trailer." So I was like, I told him, "You took our trailer."
CT: What did he say?
LA: Like, "Sorry, sorry I didn't see you guys." He was very nice.
DBK: What has been your favorite thing to do when you're not working?
LA: Think about working — learn.
DBK: About what?
CT: That's my answer — he can't talk about it.
LA: Yeah, but I like it.
CT: I just love reading and listening and trying to absorb other concepts and ideas outside of my own.
DBK: What do you read about?
CT: A lot about philosophy, psychology, history and literature is cool, too. Because you learn about all of those things indirectly.
DBK: Any last thoughts, questions, theories you want to expand upon?
CT: Can we tell the readers to not forget to use the force?
LA: Send us a DM. Slide into our DMs.
CT: We want to meet the people. We like people.
LA: We're creating a global task force.
CT: What's the task?
LA: We're going to discover the task later.
Later that night, Trapp and Atlas joined their touring bandmates onstage to play through a setlist of mostly unreleased music. At first, there was that blanket of endearing awkwardness that artists wear onstage early in their careers. Midway through the performance, synthesized rain sounds echoed through the room, and stage lights began to flash. Atlas pulled a rainstick on stage and asked the audience to close their eyes and picture themselves in the Amazon rainforest, an ambiance that led them into "The Way It Was." By the end of the show, Coast Modern made sure everyone knew the band owned the stage.