By Michael Lello
Photos by Chrissy Manuel
Our Arts On The Square “Interview Swap” continues with our chat with Cold Coffee, who will perform on the Summersteps Records stage.
Cold Coffee is a project led by Nathaniel Kane, who chatted with us about the band’s formation, philosophy, recordings, relationship with Summersteps and the opportunity to play a free, all-ages, daytime show at AOTS.
In conjunction with the interview, we are all also hosting the premieres of two new Cold Coffee songs: “On A Rock” and “Let Yourself Go.”
H81R: Tell us how the band initially got together and what projects the members were involved with previously.
NK: Well, more or less, Cold Coffee is essentially my solo project. My good friends Brian Emmert and Rob Lepkoski back me up on bass and drums, respectively. We all played together in Das Black Milk. Rob has recorded and played in his own solo project, Girls Galore. Me and Rob both play in the live version of Brian’s project, Brian TV (who recently released an excellent full-length on the brilliant Stress Carrier label. Check it out!).
H81R: What was the intention of getting Cold Coffee together, and what type of influences did you all bring into the band?
NK: Sometime in 2011, I started writing some songs that I didn’t think really fell in line with what we were doing in Das Black Milk. Lyrically, they had a more personal bend than anything else I wrote before. Musically, I can’t really say. I generally gravitated to more of the late ’80s/early ’90s post-hardcore and indie stuff I loved as a kid. I doubt anyone would really compare our music to anything like that. I recorded the first Cold Coffee mostly by myself. Rob played drums on a few tracks. Around that time, Brian had the first release for Brian TV ready to go. We self-released a split cassette with both groups’ debut EPs. Then we just rolled with it, I guess. Within a year, I had recorded Cold Coffee’s first full-length, “Sinking Ships,” the same way. Some of it I did by myself with programmed beats. Some of it was with whoever was around to play on it. We all bring a bunch of influences to the table. Punk, hardcore, metal, dub, garage rock, classic rock…just a mishmash of stuff (though I’m usually begging Brian and Rob to shut off the classic rock by the end of the night).
H81R: How did the band become involved with Summersteps Records?
NK: I’ve been friends with Eric Schlittler for years, and he’s helped my bands on numerous occasions. Summersteps released an EP by my old band, Doses. He also helped Doses get shows when we were new and no one wanted to really deal with us. Later on, Das Black Milk co-released a split 7” with Kid Icarus on Summersteps. All of my musical endeavors have had a strong relationship with the label over the years in one way or another.
NK: Well, I helped engineer and mix the Kid Icarus songs on the split. At the time, I pretty much almost had another Cold Coffee full-length done, but I scrapped half of it and condensed it into a nice little EP. We decided it didn’t feel right as an album. So, basically, I had five songs, Kid Icarus had five songs. Me and Eric were like, “Let’s put out a split release!” The rest is history. I used to love split 7-inches. You usually got the band you knew about and a whole new band that sometimes would blow your mind. There was usually a sense of community and connectedness with bands and labels involved in a split release. Like a big team-up!
H81R: Do you think your songs fit well/contrast well with the Kid Icarus songs on the split release?
NK: Again, it’s hard to say. I think there is some contrast. Kid Icarus and Cold Coffee are different kinds of bands. However, I was helping Icarus record their songs at the same time I was doing the Cold Coffee stuff, so it just sounds like one big release to me regardless. I didn’t really think about it too much. I think the recordings on the split capture both bands in that moment in time. It’s as simple as that.
H81R: What is the band working on currently? Any new recordings?
NK: Cold Coffee is recording a new-full length. The working title is “Laundromat.”
Hopefully, I can have it done by end of the summer and have it released in some way, shape or form by the end of the fall. There is no exact science to that, though. It’s done when it’s done, I guess. I already have two tracks streaming from the album as a little preview.
H81R: The band doesn’t seem to play out very much. Is there a reason for that?
NK: In the beginning, Cold Coffee was never totally intended to be a real live band. It started as a recording project and my friends would play on some tracks. Here and there people started saying, “you wanna play a show?”…and then we had to figure out how to play a lot of the early songs live. Some of them translated well live and some didn’t. I wasn’t sure how I wanted the band to even be presented in terms of personnel and musical arrangements. Right now, the plan is to finish the new album and play the heck out of it in front of an audience. I pretty much decided on the current “power trio” lineup and the songs are written to be played live, simple and direct. The backbone of the songs we’re doing now are recorded live. It’s still pretty lo-fi, but at least you can tell there are human beings playing together.
Also, we’re getting pretty old and we all have separate personal lives and obligations. In addition, we work on a bunch of other musical projects individually, as well as collectively. We play as many shows as can commit to. I’m hoping to play out more extensively in the near future.
NK: Ummmm…we wanna lay down some righteous jams, maaaan!
Seriously, we’re gonna play stuff from the entire Cold Coffee catalogue. We’re pretty pumped about playing some new material.
Arts on the Square is a pretty good chance for us to play to an audience who might not normally see us. Also, the afternoon show has a different energy and it allows musicians to engage an audience in a different way than the late-night bar gigs. People can experience art and music and it’s still early enough in the day where they can hang out afterwards and talk about what they experienced instead of just going home at the end. Plus, kids can see a bunch of great bands without worrying about pesky curfews. On the flipside, it’s early enough for some of my other friends to bring their families out for the day.
H81R: Who are some bands you have shared bills with in the area?
NK: Our first show was with Brian TV, but I’m not sure they count because we share all our members. We played a bunch with Kid Icarus, of course. We’re sharing the stage at Arts on the Square with Eww Yaboo, who are good friends of ours and have also hooked us up with gigs in the past. I’m always stoked to see those guys. I can say that the bands we’ve played with are generally our good friends.
H81R: Are there any other bands in the area you’d like to be on shows with?
NK: My friend Chris, who was in Doses with me a few year back, is in a new band called We Be Wolves. I’m helping them record an EP. They play a mishmash of melodic punk and garage rock. Really passionate blokes. We’ll probably kick out the jams together at some point and it should be pretty cool.
H81R: What about “national” bands? Which ones would you like to play with?
NK: Whoah! That question is quite terrifying. How about Prince? Who wouldn’t want to open up for Prince?
H81R: Is there anything else going on with Cold Coffee you’d like to add?
NK: I love making music with my friends, and I plan on doing it for a long time to come. I make sure to keep working with the people who love it as much as I do. We couldn’t quit if we tried. Cold Coffee is just a name. I could call it something else tomorrow and it’d just still be me doing something I love. It’s always been fun, even when it wasn’t fun.
It’s kind of scary being solely in the driver’s seat for this project. There’s no one else to blame but me. I just keep telling myself: “It’s OK to make mistakes.”