For some people it seems as if THE CORAL were just another of those British nameless bands that rose to short fame in the Noughthies. Unlike RAZORLIGHT, KAISER CHIEFS and whatever the remains of ‘The Class Of 2005’ are called, THE CORAL have already started their psychedelic Indie Rock out in the mid 90s. Back then, their members were only 12 years old. Twenty years later, THE CORAL are releasing their eighth album Distance Inbetween on March 4. It’s their first full-length album with new material since five years, with last years release The Curse Of Love being an release of a ‘lost’ album recorded in 2006. According to bandmember Nick Power the pause was caused because of the boredom that spread within the band.
Distance Inbetween doesn’t seem like a comeback album that was made to pay off the debts of band members like it’s often the case. It more seems like an euphoric and optimistic return with heavier psychedelic rock than the previous albums of THE CORAL. Unless having number one albums and tours around the world, THE CORAL have always kept a down-to-earth spirit. The band members are still living in their 13,000 peopled hometown Hoylake in the Wirral district near Liverpool.
‘I don’t regret a lot of things that have happened in The Coral’
I talk with Nick Power, who joined THE CORAL in 1998. As every other CORAL member, Nick is a self-taught multi-intrumentalist. During our phone interview, we notice that Wikipedia is missing two of Nick’s tasks in THE CORAL off: Besides keyboards, organ, melodica, harmonica, piano, backing vocals and lyrics Nick can also play the drums and the guitar. So if anyone wants to add this to THE CORAL‘s ‘persona section’ on Wikipedia: Please feel free to do so! As 2016 doesn’t just mark the release of Distance Inbetween but also the 20th anniversary of THE CORAL, I want to find out how being in a band changed since then.
You were formed long ago in the mid 90s in Wirral – that’s 20 years ago. What sort of advice would you give the younger self that was just starting the band?
NP: Don’t take too much acid. Eat better. And I wouldn’t be so complaisant as I was. I didn’t really care when I was younger. A bit more sort of with tours and promotion. You need to do that but I didn’t care when I was younger. I don’t regret a lot of things that have happened in the band. But I probably would try a bit more to deliver in any way we want. I didn’t care much when I was younger. But that’s the type of band I like. Bands that dont care about being big or famous. It works both ways really. It wasn’t a concious decision. I just loved music. And everything else I wasnt that bothered about. But I understand now that if you want to get your music out to people – which is what you wanna do – then you have to do certain things. I dont mind doing them anymore.
All I wanted to do as a kid is just making music. I was just obsessed about that, I didn’t care about anything else.
I tell Nick that I’m a bit surprised hearing that the first thing he would advise his younger-self would be drug-related. Nick tells me that THE CORAL always wanted their music to be tight and not loose. He always liked the attitude of bands like NIRVANA, who wouldn’t take any substances until getting of stages. ‘Bands that work for you if you’re a fan’ as Nick puts it. Did he ever think about moving out of Hoylake to make music?
There’s just no need for me. I’ve got everything I need round here. A lot of things I write about happen here. It’s just a sort of microcosm anywhere you go. I’m not really a city person. The landscape’s pretty, the weather is okay.
Nick explains to me that in Hoylake people don’t care about them being in a band that had several number one albums. For him, that’s the way to go. Nick wants to live an anonymous life, but the conflict is, that he really wants the music to be big. In our conversation he emphasizes often, that he hopes that the new album is going to be big. But the taste fame that Nick got with THE CORAL being number one didn’t sit well with him at all. It’s a very healthy attitude to music. An attitude that is probably well related to his birthtown Hoylake, where he started out in a band, self-teaching instruments before even hitting puberty. Nowadays it seems as if bands only meet and form at college, often having learned their instruments through classic music lessons.
Would you consider forming a band was easier 20 years ago?
NP: There was less choice back then. Its a big chlichee to say. But there were very few things to do. People always say start a band or be a footballer or just get a rubbish job. Now people sort of go to uni, trait for a career, go in a band and make an album or two and then return to their career. The amount of bands you see that only release one album and then you’ll forget about it within two years. Theres no launghavity in any of it. It was harder back then because you didnt have a choice. Its not a bad thing now but I dont think you get the sort of desperation or fight you did along. I think the music scenes in a pretty good health by the way.
Being a musician your whole life and doing nothing else seems like an romantic way of making music. I want to know if joining THE CORAL had to do with the desperation as a working class child in the North of England.
Was The Coral formed as a result of growing up in a Northern English working class enviroment?
NP: Where we live isn’t terrible at all. It isnt a bad place like some areas in Liverpool or Birkenhead, where there’s just poverty. Its not bad here, its an old seaside town. Theres nothing to do, its more of a boredom thing. The choices as a kid growing up are just a really shit job or being in a band. There was a sense of desperation. My only choice of joining a band was getting out of it, moving out of this life you’re getting pushed in to living in.
During our conversation Nick keeps on asking me ‘D’you know what I mean’ with his thick Scouse accent. But this question seems to bother him in a special way, as he asks me twice if I understand his point of view. I tell Nick about my English relatives, who are still living in the same area where they grew up in, my cousin having started a cover band and giving music lessons as a young teenager. Now he’s still in a band, touring with a famous British blues musician.
Universal bordom as one creative key
I understand Nicks point well and that he doesn’t want his decision to be a working musician only to just be considered as a working class thing. We talk about the difference between forming bands and moving out of home in England and Germany. Nick’s conclusion is, that what made him join THE CORAL was boredom. That universal boredom, that can be found anywhere in the world, whether you grew up in Hoylake like Nick or in an Eastern German town called Wernigerode like I did. Earlier on Nick said that he found the music industry to be in ‘pretty good health’. I’m pretty puzzled by this statement since I never heard this from other musicians or professionals working in the music industry.
What makes you think that the industry is in a good health at the moment?
NP: The power got taken away from the charts and big record companies. There’s not a lot of money in it, thats a fact. But there are a lot of good bands around. More than 6 or 7 years ago. Maybe there’s just a use to hear for it on the internet. 8 years ago things were pretty boring I thought.
NP: All I know is that music moves in cycles. That cycle never fails. Its the most true thing ever seen. Things come into fashion in a cycle. When I was growing up in the early noughties, the 90s were considered really shit. Five or six years later everyone was raving about the 90s, because the cycle is always moving. What you saw in the mid ninetines was a return to really drap Rock’n’Roll. Really drap, meeting potatoes Indie Rock. It was dry, everything we were talking about, taxi cabs, social commentary. We had that for about 10 years. When someone starts spacing out, it seems like new music.
But psychedelic music has been around all the time, it just went underground.
So if someone comes around with social commentary, it moves in a cycle all the time. I really like the new crop of psychedelic bands. We fit into that more than into the Indie stuff that just came out after us.
And what about streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music?
NP: There’s nothing you can really do, you have to accept it and move on. I would buy the vinyl version if I like something. But you can’t expect that from the average person. They just wanna go to work and listen to some music on the way to work. They probably have a shit job. Music is just something that gets them by in life.
For most people music is just a sort of commodity. They wouldnt go out, buy a vinyl player and records. You just gotta go with it or you’ll be moaning forever.
After already having talked for 10 longer minutes than our actual time slot on the phone was, I tell Nick that it’s time for him to move on to his other interviews. Later on, Nick and his band mates are meeting The Guardian. Or better: The Guardian is meeting them. One of the many advantages of living in Hoylake is that you don’t have to do hour-long promo runs in some sticky hotel room or label office, but within your own four walls.