by Michael E. Fromm
When listening to the music of The Coteries, two visuals come to mind – a stunning sunrise in the early morning and the scenic beauty of an American byway. Their melancholic music is filled to the brim with glowing heart and soul, with gentle strums of an acoustic guitar and the soothing vocals of singer Emily Parasiliti.
As their website’s biography suggests, The Coteries were ‘Born out of the midst of an 11,000 mile North American road trip, [they] bring you Folk Rock music steeped in their travels and the back roads of the American countryside.’
The New Jersey-based band released their debut EP, Reason in the Road, at the end of July. The first single off that album, I’m Travelin’ On (which you can listen to here), is a sweet, acoustic melody that makes you want to wake up as the sun is rising and go for a drive down the back roads of your town, just to take in the beauty of the area you live in. It’s music that puts you in touch with your feelings, and reflect on the past as you drive down the road ahead.
For information on The Coteries, tour dates, and to listen to their music before you buy it, visit thecoteries.com. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube @CoteriesBand.
I had a chance to ask The Coteries (Emily Parasiliti, Matthew Runciman, and Ben Brosh) a few questions about their careers, their passions, and their music while they are on tour. Here is what they had to say:
NJIB: When did you contract the “music bug?” What was it that made you realize, ‘this is what I’ll be doing the rest of my life?’
COTERIES: All three of us grew up on two things: sports and music. Each of us started playing in high school and definitely had big dreams as young kids but for individual reasons we lost ourselves a bit during our collegiate years. We all took day jobs right after college and were feeling pretty lost personally and musically. So, at the end of 2014 we thought we’d quit those jobs, buy an old VW Bus and go travel around the country without any real plan. As insane as everyone thought we were we kind of found our footing in the midst of that 11,000 mile road trip stretching all the way to the West Coast. I think that’s when we realized we could stand each other after a couple days with no showers! Shortly after that and through the winter leading into 2015 we had a moment where things started to shift in us. We started playing more and more shows further and further away from our home base and kind of just couldn’t stop. Now, this is way more than a bug for us and it’s growing deeper every day.
On your website, you say, “Born out of the midst of an 11,000 mile North American road trip.” Can you explain what you mean by that? How long have you all known each other? When did you form The Coteries? What inspired you to make music together?
Well, I guess we just kind of answered that! We went through places like Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Alberta, British Columbia and then all the way down the West Coast on the PCH. I think The Coteries were roughly conceptualized immediately before that trip, but not actually put into practice until early 2015. I think our ability to be ourselves around each other really allowed us to find a common ground musically. It really all goes back to that trip in 2014 for us.
Who are your major influences?
Houndmouth and The Lone Bellow are two huge early influences for us as we started to write music together. Both of those groups had put out records that really changed things for us in terms of sound and what we thought was possible between the three of us. Going back further, The Band (Matt & Ben) and Joni Mitchell & Bonnie Raitt (Emily) were big influences for us growing up.
Can you tell us about your collaborative process? Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?
A lot of the time we find one person coming up with an initial idea that is then built on spontaneously by everyone else. Emily does a TON of writing lyrics so we never are at a loss for some lyrics and just recently we’ve been working a lot off of those lyrics instead of starting with guitar progression as we had done initially after getting together. Travelin’ On was our first tune that we actually all sat down and wrote line by line together one morning after breakfast as we sat around a table. Matt had one line and a progression and it all snowballed pretty quickly from there! The new album’s main theme is travel and self discovery but lately we’ve been writing on subjects stretching from love, heartbreak, to story songs stemmed from the road.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing together?
When we all first met, we had 2 other people who played with us. Full on electric rock ‘n roll outfit. It was like a bad dream of Kings of Leon meets shoegaze stoner rock dressed in leather. We like to remember those days fondly as we laugh at ourselves. We’ve come a long way! When we decided to strip it down to start The Coteries it was just two acoustic guitars and Emily singing. Over the past 6 months Matt and Ben have picked up a stomp box and foot percussion, mandolin and really put themselves out their vocally. Emily (on top of some weird instruments like a kazoo and melodica) has added the harmonica. These pieces have really added so much to our overall sound and energy while we’re performing. We’re itching to start working on new instruments to add to the mix!
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? How have you been able to overcome that challenge?
Probably finding a foothold with our music in our hometown. We slowly took to the road and have had a ton of success finding new markets across the country where things click. The area where we’re from seems to really love the electric sound so it has been hard to compete with the talented folks around. Since we’ve added the new instrumentation we’ve noticed a huge difference in reception from audiences in New Jersey who are looking to get up and dance. We hope to keep the momentum going!
What are The Coteries working on right now? Where can we learn more about any new music or a live performances?
We are constantly writing and already have songs for another EP lined up and ready to go. Hopefully, this winter we can record and put out another record next Spring. As for now, “Reason in the Road”, which was released on July 29, can be found on all major distributors! You can follow our most up to date travels and experiences on our “Trusty Travels” blog at www.thecoteries.com.
Final question – What advice can you give any artists – be it in music or any arts/entertainment medium – trying to break into their respective industry?
Get out there and do it! Things don’t happen sitting in your living room watching TV. I know we’re risking sounding overly cheesy/cliche when we say this but, you need to put every fiber of what you are into this. You need get business savvy. What most people don’t see from Instagram is that when we’re not writing, playing or traveling we spend every waking hour holed up in coffee shops and libraries e-mailing, researching, and just trying to get our music out there.