Phoenix's the Holy Coast didn't exactly intend for the band to have the initials THC, but the coincidence couldn't be more fitting, says Keith Walker, the synth-drizzled trio's maestro of beats and programming. Plus, when singer Brett Davis suggested the name after their first jam session, he slowly reached into his jacket pocket, produced a funny-looking cigarette, and said, "This will explain it all."
Let the Holy Coast stand as further proof that pot doesn't make you lazy or stupid.
Despite forming just a little over a year ago, THC has released a string of singles (including the much lauded "Until the End") and two EPs -- Tape Collective One and a self-titled collection coming July 29.
Haunting landscapes adorned with brooding synthesizers and velvety guitar licks make the Holy Coast one of the more introspective acts in town. Lyrics are gasped or whispered into the ether, which seems to mutter in response in dream-like froths. The mix of synth cascades and heavy reverb evoke a more electro Slowdive or Galaxie 500, attracting the somewhat controversial label "shoegaze."
"We don't gaze at our shoes when we play, so I don't know if we really fit the bill," Walker explains via e-mail, adding that My Bloody Valentine obviously is a strong influence. "Then again, were [MBV] even shoegaze? I don't think they even wore shoes. To me, labeling bands is really quite silly, as there are good bands and there are shit bands."
Walker says THC finds balance between its analog instrumentation and MacBook-powered electronica through "discipline," adding "computers or organic instruments have fuck all to do with it." Given how precise the band operates, it appears to be true.
The self-titled EP opens with a re-recorded version of Tape Collective One's "The Space We Haunt," which sounds almost sinister. There's a dose of venom in lyrics like "You still can hold your heart in broken hands / So take it." Entering with bass that sounds like a nervous tic, "I Wrote You" speaks of vulnerability, pity, and a need for intimacy while "Hands Down" crashes with sharp guitar echoes.
Recently featured on French cultural magazine Les Inrocks as song of the day, "The Highest Love" is the first single from the album. It leads in with soft, bouncing strokes while Davis sings in muted falsetto about messages coming to him in dreams. But what exactly is the highest love?
"Loving yourself --insert Beavis and Butt-Head joke here -- is perhaps the highest form of love," Walker says. "Once you are at peace with who you are, I believe, the door to love is opened, [but] it's for the listener to decide. If they have a connection with [the song] on some level, it's done its job."
The EP also features a remix of "The Highest Love" by former Smiths bassist Andy Rourke, a notable influence on the band. Produced by THC, the album was recorded and engineered by Bob Hoag at his Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa. It's being released by Common Wall Media, known for releases by Bogan Via, Samuel L Cool J, and Dear and the Headlights. Walker says working with Common Wall's owner Chuckie Duff has been a pleasure.
"I've worked with many labels in the past, and, unfortunately, most are full of shit," Walker says. "[Chuckie] pretty much laid it out . . . While explaining Common Wall was a small label that was not in a position to make us superstars but would be able to help us get to the next level. He never said he could do anything that he could not, and that kind of honesty in the music business is rare and refreshing."
The Holy Coast's self-titled EP is scheduled for release on Tuesday, July 29. Visit www.theholycoast.com for details.
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