One of the most exciting releases this year has come in the split release between Coilguns and Kunz, both bands featuring the members of German experimental metal band The Ocean.
Coilguns consisting of Louis Jucker, Luc Hess, and Jona Nido especially grabbed our attention with the three songs of stunning aggression, intensity, mayhem and deeply striking sounds they contributed to the release. The RingMaster Review obviously leapt at the opportunity to fire questions about the band to guitarist and songwriter Jona.
Hi and welcome to The RingMaster Review and many thanks for taking time to indulge our questions.
Thank you for your interests in our new project.
With you guys well known and busy with The Ocean how long have the sounds and ideas for Coilguns been lying in wait to be unleashed?
You know, Louis, Luc and I have been playing together for 10 years now, so I’d say it has always been there. Then, The Ocean crossed our path and we dedicated the last 4 years of our lives to this band.
Now, to be more specific about Coilguns itself, I think we started talking about having a new band, for fun, some kind of a D-beat-punk-math-whatever-you-call-it band during a European tour with The Ocean in 2010. It was a drinking night in Berlin. From there on, I really started to feel like I needed to do my own stuff again. I’ve been writing songs for my bands since I’m 13 so even with all the good stuff that goes with being in a band such as The Ocean, I started having this urgent need of expressing myself the way I used to do it.
But to be honest, the first time I wrote some tunes for Coilguns was in December 2010 when I was spending a month in New York. It actually took me one day. So here’s the answer to your question: It’s been there hidden somewhere for ages until I had a bit of Ocean-free time and then it was like an explosion of riffs and ideas!
What was it that made now the right time to bring forth Coilguns?
It is just that last December / January and this last summer was the first time in 4 years where we didn’t have anything at all with The Ocean.
Starting a band is one thing, but if you wanna get anywhere it can come to a(n) (unpaid) full time job really quickly. So Instead of going to the beach (that doesn’t exist anyway where we live) and do barbecues with friends we just decided to spend 6 hours a day in the rehearsal room and after that I was spending another 4 hours working the PR, office part. I would even say that this year was the worst one to launch a new project actually. We’ve never been so much on tour with The Ocean than this year.
We just wanted to do it and dealt with the time we had. We were even able to squeeze a Coilguns tour right before going for a massive 4 months tour with The Ocean.
Jona, it was an obvious and seemingly the only choice to bring Luc and Louis to help realise your ideas? Did you think about other musicians too at any point?
Not at all. There are obviously dozens of musicians I’d love to jam with but why would I look at someone else in the end?
We all live in the same town, have pretty well equipped home studios, friends that have amazing studios, we have the exact same schedule for the whole year and most important we’ve been playing together for 10 year, toured the world and played 500 shows together, so there really was no reason to look after someone else.
And this is without talking about the fact that Luc is just one of the best drummers I’ve ever seen. Him and his drum kit are really just one entity. He’s such a groove machine, tight as fuck, super creative, always tasty and he’s got this unique human/organic approach of drumming that most of the modern metal drummers are missing.
For what Louis is concerned, well… He was there, we were drunk and he kinda forced us…
Your sound is wonderfully hard to pin down, how would you classify it?
I don’t like to label my own music, like no one obviously. I could make you a list of labels that would fit the way I feel about this band but it’s useless.
Generally, and I’m not talking about the 3 tracks from the split only, I use the following adjectives:
Dark, oppressive, negative, violent and experimental. We like heavy and crushing sounds. And even though in our new songs we have some long build up instrumental parts it is still really tortured and dark as fuck. that’s what we like. Being extreme is not about being fast or technical, it’s about being EVIL, and our music def. is. My favourite description of what we do is:
“it’s like a good rough fuck. While you’re doing it, you slap, spit, choke but when it’s over, everybody’s happy and had a good time.”
Nope, I just sent Louis and Luc guitar tracks while I was still in the US. They were really enthusiastic about them so I booked a studio straight away. We once rehearsed with Luc 2 hours and then it was studio time.
Louis wrote his lyrics and found his vocal lines in the train, on his way to the studio… It wasn’t meant to be like that though. It’s just that we weren’t really taking this seriously. I think it’s always better to know what you are doing when you get in the studio then you can spend more time on improving your songs than actually rehearse them.
You recorded the tracks live to bring rawness to the sound and certainly the songs have a delicious abrasive and striking edge but apart from the obvious what were the advantages and negatives that you encountered by doing it this way?
There are many ways to record live. For this one we still used a click track in order to do some overdubs and stuffs…So I guess this would be the best way to “fake” a live recording, because if everybody’s in a separate room and you record to a click track you can still edit whatever you want.
My favourite way of doing it is just to be in the same room, facing each others, no click track, no bullshit, just balls.
I don’t see any negatives to be honest…maybe the fact that you’ll never be able to get a massive production with such raw material but that isn’t what we’re looking for anyway.
A good thing when you record live is that you really need to work hard on your instrument and with your drummer. Recording in one take is not something that everybody can do. Means if you can do it then you’re gonna be able to play it like that on stage.
I’m really fed up with all these bands that have over-produced records and are so bad live…and there are so many of these “scene” bands that all sound the same and are not even able to play their instruments.
Recording live is just being the real you, in our case it’s about 3 people looking at each other and on a simple eye contact we start a song, no hi-hat counts, no given tempo. And people can feel that on the record and on stage as well.
Please describe how you write and construct your songs. Is it just you and where do you start?
At first it was only me. But although I usually have a few drums ideas I never tell Luc about it until he writes his parts. Usually he’s never doing what I expected and that’s what makes it interesting.
So basically I track my guitar, send it to Luc and then we meet in the room and play for hours. For the next album we wanna try a different approach and just jam around a few riffs and build the songs together. I have a pretty unusual setup even being alone I can do many many things so I think the best way to go is to write stuff on the spot with this setup and with Luc in the room. We really wanna boost the dark experimental side of our music.
The songs are a maelstrom of energy, intrusive sounds and inspiring ideas that at times feel random, just how carefully are songs layered and when do you know when to stop before going too far?
I just learned through the years to contain myself. I still like tricky and tech stuff but I found out that writing a good simple song is more challenging than compiling nerd-tech riffs and call it a song.
But I’m no one to say that I’m not going too far. The songs from the split really are the first ones I wrote for this band. Things happened so quickly that there wasn’t any time to step back and see what were the weak points of these songs. But even now, I don’t think we’ve been too far. Maybe on the next record we will, but more in an experimental / noisy way.
I also have to admit that Louis’s an amazing songwriter, really talented musician and he has a good vision on what’s necessary or not. I rely on him a lot in that regard.
You have also recorded a 30 minute EP Stadia Rod, could you tell us about this and was it recorded at the same time as the three tracks for the split EP?
Alright, for the first time, I’ll tell the whole story:
When we confirmed our first show -which by the way was a support slot for Dillinger- we only had 11 minutes of music. and this was about a month before the show…So we worked our asses off to have a 45 minutes set and we rehearsed so much that 10 days before the show we were like: “Shall we book a studio and record those songs?” and so we did! It took us 5 hours to get one good take of each song. The day after, Louis recorded the vocals in his living room, 2 days later Julien Fehlmann mixed and mastered it in 4 hours and we then manufactured ourselves 150 records in a nice fancy homemade silk-screen print packaged. All of this in a week.
The songs are obviously more personal, still “straight in your face” but we also integrated instrumental parts, really dark ones though that build up for like 5 minutes. That’s the result of me being really comfie with my new setup and we’re just gonna keep developing this.
Also the concepts and lyrics behind every title are much more elaborated than on the split.
Since the recording Louis has laid down his bass to concentrate on the vocals and the band has decided not to replace him apart from with technology and your skills. Was this decision to use technology another obvious one or did you contemplate a new member to the band?
We never considered having another member. I really do think that the less people you are in a band, the better it is. And seriously, I wouldn’t have imagined having another bass player than Louis anyway, at least not for this band.
How easy has it been to incorporate the bass sound into your hands in the live show area?
Well as soon as I figured how to have a bass sound, it was fairly easy. It was hard in the first place since I’m not so much of a gear nerd. I really had to look to all options and finally came up with my own thing which consists of a huge custom pedal board with many effects but moreover switches that allows me to control 2 different guitar amps and a bass amp as well.
Live we just have the same amount of gear than a five piece band. The bass is just coming through like a regular one. But I make it sound fat and bassy but not super clear and defined. You can really hear that there is a bass and I’m really working with all these switches to give some dynamics and relief to the songs. I can have only one guitar playing, both, without bass, with the bass, only the bass…some effects are going only through one guitar amp…I’m so happy with this setup man, I can just sound like 3 people but without having to deal with them personally!
There is a unity to the band from working together for a long time and constantly that comes out in the sound, do you think bringing someone else in would disrupt that?
I think it would. The 3 of us really are on the same page on what this band’s concerned. We don’t need to talk much about things or do compromises. We are confident enough in what we do and the decisions we make to not care much or ask anyone’s opinion on anything Coilguns related.
What is next for Coilguns, an album maybe?
We’re gonna try to release our first full length next year yes. Before that, “Stadia Rods” will be released on 10” vinyl early next year through Scottish label Dead Dead Dead Music. The guy running this label, Neil, is amazing and he really wants to help us out in the UK.
The booking of our second tour has started, it’s gonna be around mid-March until mid-April and this will most certainly go through the UK! I’m really excited to come over with this band. Reviews and feedback have been really good for Coilguns there.
Could there be a chance of a show with Kunz, Coilguns, and The Ocean on the bill? It would make lots very happy.
This is gonna happen in May in a festival in Eastern Europe. Even Earthship (Robin’s other band) will be on the bill! but we are gonna play on different days. Maybe a Kunz / Ocean bill would work but I know Luc wouldn’t be able to do a Coilguns show and a The Ocean one. We talked about it but it would be too intense for him.
Again many thanks for talking with us would you care to leave with a last thought for your fans and those yet to find your great sounds?
Thank you, really interesting interview and thx for your enthusiasm and support!
Support your local scene, go to shows, discover unknown bands and buy merch!!
The split EP between Coilgun and Kunz is available now via Pelagic Records for more info check out