An in depth interview by Jahan Swanson, about the process and creation of the new Coconut Milk album and about how the adjustment of new members has been. Photo also by Jahan Swanson.
Cincinnati, Ohio beach rock band Coconut Milk has just released their newest album, “Shoop Shoop Shoop,” and a newly revitalized Coconut Milk has formed and re-established themselves. Amongst their peers and friends, I was able to sit down with them and talk about their process and creation of the album. You can check out the interview below!
What is the album called?
Katrina: “Shoop Shoop Shoop”.
How many tracks are on it?
George: There are a couple tracks that were on previous EPs that we re-recorded and re-mastered.
Josh: Honey Suckle Trees, North Dakota, Good Dancer…
Alex: and the other 10 are new.
Josh: They had never been previously recorded until now. Some people have probably heard them in live shows.
What was the thought process for choosing Good Dancer, North Dakota, and Honey Suckle Trees?
Alex: Well, North Dakota, everyone constantly tells us it’s our best song.
I don’t believe that.
Alex: Well that’s good then!
Alex: But, you know how our general fans are, it was kind of random honestly.
Josh: Alex had this really good reworking of the main guitar riff on the song, and it kind of made the whole song feel more different than it ever has and kind of came off like this Shoegaze song almost to a certain extent but it’s still up-tempo.
George: And as a person who has been a fan and as a person who is working in this project, the songs that always stood out to me were the up-tempo ones like North Dakota and Good Dancer. You know, groovin’ booty shakin’ kinda tunes!
How has the transition been for you coming from Gran Bel Fisher to Coconut Milk?George: Honestly, I’ve always been kind of a busybody. It’s been nice to kind of focus on one band that keeps me engaged in the way I like to be engaged. So, I’m a one man band now and it’s been nice cause we got some big plans coming up.
Does the chemistry feel better now?
George: You better say yes! Hahaha
Katrina: Yeah haha, I mean it seems to make sense.
Josh: It was fun and it’s had its moment before, where there was like this chaos that made everything feel fresh and like semi-volatile so, it just kind of kept you on that edge. But this is much more relaxed and more conducive of focusing in on a song and actually trying to get them down well enough for people to go “Wow, I guess they’re actually kind of practiced!” You know? Not like this fanatic energy you can’t get your hands on. Which was good. I think that’s why I love Coconut Milk as a person who was friends with people outside of the band before joining the band. With that being said; Growing Pains and different membership has brought some brevity. You know, kind of makes things feel more wholesome.
So did you all help Alex write on the new album or did you write again by yourself?
Alex: I wrote again by myself.
How does the whole process go now when it comes to making a Coconut Milk track?Alex: I just start by putting the guitar track, the most basic guitar track, and like could be a crappy vocal take over top. Then Josh came in and did the drums, I did that for a whole bunch of songs.
Josh: Yeah we narrowed it down to 13 from 20+ tracks.
Alex: Then I would touch up the vocals and re-do some guitar parts. Then Kat and George came in just in whatever order it came about that particular day.
Josh: We spent a lot of time in pre-production from actually settling on drum parts. Out of the 20 songs we probably recorded over 200 drum takes. Then we’d scrap them and reconfigure the mics, all in this room right here. (Alex’s basement). And then we got to the point where we started putting stuff on and that lasted for about 3 months.
George: It was a lot of like best idea wins stuff because, like Alex plays bass on a few songs on the album because, of the point where they had started writing it and recording it they didn’t have a bass player and you know, Alex is a pretty good bass player too. So, he tracked a few if not half the album by himself. Then I joined. I had a couple ideas for a couple songs and we went with that and there were some songs where he had an idea and I had an idea and we went with his idea because we were kind of letting the best idea win, you know, serving the music instead of our egos. So, it was kind of a nice thing to be like coming in on a project and work on somebody else’s stuff where really everybody is trying to do the best job they can. Everybody leaves their egos at the door.
So, did you guys do the mixing in mastering in Alex’s basement and had it sent somewhere to be touched up?
Josh: No actually, Ben Cochran from “Soap Floats Recordings” did the mixing, close personal friend of mine. He did a very tentative and rushed job to get that done, and then the master came out of the wood work as well. It’s Anthony Thogmartin from “Papadosio.” He’s the guitar player and singer in that band and I trust his ear. I don’t know anybody who knows anything more about the mechanics of musical software and just producing sound in general and he offered his services and he was able tpdo a great job on such a short run. Then we sent it to QCA a couple of days ago to be pressed.
Has the inspiration musically changed? Sonically does it still sound like a Coconut Milk album or is it a different type of Coconut Milk now?
George: I’d like to answer that because I’ve had the least experience in this band, but probably the most as a fan. I think people that enjoyed the other EP’s are in for a treat just because I think it’s something that the other EP’s were leading up to.
Josh: The most important thing with this record that people will like from the EP’s that I’ve noticed right off the bat is that Coconut Milk is truly a duet when it comes to vocals now. Cause Kat is singing a lot more and it’s very prominent and some of the parts that were recorded before, there’s much more fuller and thicker fleshed out ideas from her end and on the 10 new songs that were previously unrecorded. Man, you’re going to hear Katrina the way you never have before.
Katrina: Hahaha yeah! Look out people!
Josh: So vocally Coconut Milk is really a duet now. You won’t miss that third part cause it’s Kat and Alex being more harmonious.
So are the harmonies that you guys are kind known for absent on this album?
George: No hahaha.
Katrina: Hahaha I was down here mixing forever even on songs we’ve done before. I wrote two or three harmonies and then I would double every track.
Alex: It sounds very full, vocally.
Did you do a Wall of Sound type of technique or another method?
Alex: I think some of them might sound like that.
Josh: Yeah like Hospital Wing is gonna come off very Wall of Sound during the chorus and pre-chorus. And then a couple other songs like Honey Suckle Trees Man, and Cities even is totally Wall of Sound. There are a lot more subtleties in some of these songs but by and by it’s very Wall of Sound.
George: Even some of the more laid back tunes like She Won’t Go Home sound really like a triumphant moment where it builds to a point.
Alex: I think I’m really proud of the album. It’s been a long time. Josh and I have been tracking since June.
Josh: Yeah more than half of our year was spent working on this. Just free time that we had was spent here.
I think it sounds like you guys were super dedicated to the project and it all seems more cohesive this time around. Where can people find you guys?