I have been chatting with Coyote Choir…
about their new song, Sing!, and how that came together. The guys tell me about their forthcoming album, Vol. 1, and the sort of things that will be included in terms of themes – they each select a favourite memory from their careers so far.
I ask what sort of music they are inspired by and which albums that would highlight as their favourite/are particularly special; if there are rising artists that we need to check out; whether there are going to be tour dates coming up – they provide some good advice for songwriters coming through.
Hi, guys, How are you? How has your week been?
It’s been a good week. We’ve released our first single from our first record called Vol. 1 that will be released in the near future (Nov. 2) and we’re planning for release dates to the concept lyric videos that we’ve been making over the past few weeks. We’ve also been writing new songs.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Paul and Jason Watkins. We’re blood brothers from OKC. Mathew Linton, I’m from the Pelican State. Jason plays rhythm acoustic guitar, keys and is the lead vocalist. Paul plays bass, plays keys and sings backing vocals. Mathew plays drums, acoustic guitar and sings backing vocals. We write the songs together and try to keep everything plain and simple during the days of creating. We’re grateful for the opportunity to make music together.
How did Coyote Choir get together? Was it quite a long and tough road to where you are now?
We’ve known each other for roughly fifteen years now. The three of us were involved in different bands and playing music with different people before we started writing for Coyote Choir. We had a season a few years ago where we were writing a lot and Jason and Paul had the idea of giving these songs a home under the roof of a new band project and coming up with a name. Calling the band Coyote Choir presented itself to us one day while listening to a song by Rodney Crowell.
Is there a mantra or mission statement for the band?
We came up with the idea of trying to make something for somebody out there to “keep the heart high”. We started out writing songs imagining them pulling someone out of a tough spot, so to speak, but what was interesting about those first songs we were writing was that they were unveiling a way to help us in our personal lives too. In a strange way, we were being comforted whilst hoping to serve somebody with a song. We also like the idea of helping people to recall the good times they have had, even if they are in a season of blindness. Try to remember.
Sing! Is your new single. Can you reveal the story behind the song?
Sing! was one of the first songs we wrote for Vol. 1. We got the idea for the title because we realized that we were drinking a lot of coffee and one particular tea called ‘Sing’ from a company called High Garden in East Nashville. We flirted with the idea of calling a song Sing, but we were also thinking of someone close to us that lost the desire to use their talents/gifts in this particular season.
We liked the idea of someone beginning to open their eyes to the truth about a unique attribute they have and is a special part of who they are. There are things that other people see in you that are beautiful even when you have a hard time believing it. So, we were trying to encourage someone out there to take back the gift that lives inside you because, perhaps, when you use that gift it’s a gift to others too. It’s a new day, sing!
It is from your album, Vol. 1. What are the main themes that inspired the songs?
The theme of Vol. 1 is awaiting a personal resurrection. Not to dwell heavy on suffering, but I think all of us had our own season of uncertainty about our feelings towards music and then, out of nowhere, you feel your heart start to heal and become excited again. We have a common thread in a lot of areas of our friendship and we love making music together but I think what we really love is hoping that the music will work its way in to comfort someone. We’re not interested in making songs that feel confusing and juvenile; it’s really a simple feeling we want to share with people. Loving others and remembering the good that was once had.
Have you all got a standout song from the album? Is there one that you hold dearest to the heart?
I think we enjoyed how every song turned out, in that we’re grateful for them. We probably have different songs speaking on different days but we have a song called Always There which is one that’s been on my mind lately. It’s really a straightforward song about a relationship that seems conflicted for reasons unknown but, even in the midst of separation, they are joined by the thread of love. One person may run and the other stays and waits for their return unconditionally. No grudges. No questions. It’s love taking them back in and love that’s always been there from the beginning.
Do you each remember the artists you followed growing up? Who do you rank as idols?
We share a common appeal towards music. We love all the music our parents and grandparents were listening to but we also try and discover new things as well. We love Elvis Presley, Eagles; Don Williams, ELO; Traveling Wilburys, Phil Collins; Garth Brooks, TRIO; Crocodile Dundee…so many people. It seems like Coyote Choir Vol. 1 is influenced by '70s singer-songwriters; '80s-era Pop music and '90s Country, all stirred in a cast iron pot seasoned with synths and ethereal sound. Through it all, with all the music we love, we’re hoping to not confuse the listener.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
We’re looking forward to releasing Vol. 1 towards the end of the year (Nov. 2), and we’ll be recording our next batch of songs for the next album in October!
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music so far - the one that sticks in mind?
Mathew: One of my favorite memories regarding music is I had the opportunity to play the snare drum as a band mascot for Baker High School - beginning in 1991 through the time I started high school there. I am grateful for Ms. Heard, the director, for allowing me to play with the band but also how she showed us her love for symphonic music whenever she had the chance. She expressed a desire for symphonic music that was very moving.
Jason: My favorite memory from my time in music so far is a bittersweet one. Paul and I wrote a song called Boys’ Choir for our band, Clemency. We filmed a concept video for that song and recruited our good friend Kyle Nickel to play the main character. It’s a story of a son’s long journey home, returning to his father. We got to travel for several days with Kyle and our good friend and videographer, Joey Williams, through Oklahoma, Texas; New Mexico, and Colorado. The video turned out better than we could have ever hoped and the trip was one we’ll never forget. Shortly after that, Kyle became sick with a heart condition and passed away. At his funeral, the music video we got to make with him was played. It was heartbreaking and at the same time one of the most rich and meaningful moments I have ever had in music. Our time together, the video; the song, it all came together to celebrate his life in a way we never could have orchestrated. It was the most honored, humbled and proud I have ever felt making music.
Paul: My wife Abbey and I had come across one of life’s obstacles that caused us a considerable amount of heartache. One that we hadn’t foreseen. We began to grow tired. We tried not to let it get us down but I’m sure that Jason and Mathew could see that we weren’t ourselves. I showed up late to a writing session one day and they played me a song that I knew they had written to us. It is a beautiful song of encouragement and hope that brings warmth every time I hear it. The song is the sixth track on Vol. 1 and is called I’ll Be Waiting Here.
Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)?
Mathew: I’m not quite sure of the album that means the most to me but George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass has an album tone that can’t really be described. The songwriting; it’s soulful, it has longing and harmonically it’s rich in structure without being overly complicated. It’s an album with so much depth and feeling. I return to it quite often. Beautiful.
Jason: There are several records that mean a lot to me, but the one that stands out the most right now is the new Bon Iver record (22, A Million). It is beautiful and sweeping, always calming; a soundtrack for life. It really lends itself to reflection and rejuvenation and is perfect for an evening drive. I still love it and can listen to the whole record from beginning to end.
Paul: This seems to be a nearly impossible task but I will go with my instincts. When I read the question, the first album that popped into my head was Bringing Down the Horse by The Wallflowers. It is a record that taught me to love music and song writing. It is one that I will never grow tired of spinning.
If you could support any musicians alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I think it would be fun to support Fleetwood Mac. Water and Chimes ginger chews sounds good!
Might we see some tour dates coming up? Where might we be able to catch you play?
We don’t have any shows scheduled at the moment and playing live is not out of the question. We’re enjoying living in this ‘creative camp’ that we’ve made for ourselves for this season. We like to stockpile our songs so we never run short. We’re inspired to write and record as much as possible and playing live does appeal to us - but it’s gotta be a specific time for that.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Don’t throw in the towel when you’re down: try and stand up during the count. Honor your parents. Pray.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I like to take walks for the state of mind and reading is something that I try and do as much as possible.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can all choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Mathew: Bob Seger - Against the Wind
Jason: The Barr Brothers - Song That I Heard
Paul: Rosanne Cash - Seven Year Ache
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