Cohagen Quaid – “revolutionizing peoples feelings”
Cohagen Quaid is a band – not a dude (or a relation to Dennis or Randy). The band is a bunch of lads who got together and make beautiful music. The lads have a launch for their very first EP ‘Winter and Her Sunrise’ at the Zoo in Brisbane October 9th. The EP (from what I’ve heard on their myspace page and their JJJ Unearthed page) is really good. It’s a refreshing change of pace from the cardigan wearing, cowbell riddled, canvas shoe sporting indie rock that is absolutely everywhere at the moment.
I asked Cohagen Quaid’s singer/guitarist Dan Newton a few questions, and the man went above and beyond, going to great depths to make sure I fully understood just exactly where the band was coming from and what they were all about. So rather than have me harp on about what I think Cohagen Quaid is like – I’ll let Dan do a far better job than I could!
Loud Noise and Pictures: Briefly describe Cohagen Quaid for the uninitiated.
Dan Newton: The vision with Cohagen Quaid is to create music with no boundaries, to both challenge and inspire the listener to take a journey. The band has a keen taste for experimentation and depth. Whether it is loud guitars, angelic melodies, bizarre avant-garde experiments or a heart-wrenching ballad, it’s all about revolutionizing peoples feelings. That’s the only way to get people excited about your music, to make them feel something other than the routine emotions. I’m not really into listing bands that we sound like; I think that allows people to automatically pigeonhole you. The only genre tag I think I’ve ever been comfortable with has been Alternative rock.
LNaP: Your songs seem to be able to find light in the dark shades of love, how personal are they? How much of yourself have you put into the album, and what is left to follow it up with?
DN: The songs themselves are quite personal. For me, I believe in making sure I serve the muse and really give the song a purpose. It has to have an ache, a yearning or some kind of desire at the centre of it. Life is this great wasteland of opportunity and if love is on what we depend, then I want to illustrate the many different aspects of it. To love someone, in the most purest and truest form you have to surrender to both the light and the dark. You have to issue sacrifice because it is about loving the parts you like and the parts you don’t like. Although I draw from a personal pool of memories and feelings I always like to write in order to make it universal because Love is the universal language, with art and music being its most active communicator. Writing from such a personal place is all I’ve ever known. I have an incredible internal dialogue that can only be expressed through words and music. The only music I’ve ever been able to tolerate has come from that pure emotional place. I don’t like to get caught up in genres, to me it limits music. I like to have something I can relate too, something that can act as an escape. It’s all about trying to find beauty in a completely ugly and shallow world. Having this kind of emotional connection to the music you make only ever allows you to have your full self-immersed in it, because that’s the only time a band can work. Playing music with a band, and the whole creative and performance aspect of it is a total exercise in love and trust, like every good relationship. So the more the band loves and trusts each other, the better the music becomes. As a band we’ll always be able to follow it up because we’re always searching and looking for new ways to put sounds to feelings.
LNaP: What do you hope to acheive as a result of the album? Is it a personal victory for the band, or is it hopefully a launching pad for Cohagen Quaid?
DN: It’s a little bit of both. The band has travelled a long road since its beginnings. We’ve lost and gained members, had to self fund every move we make and try and live a normal 9 to 5 existence. So to finally see the EP complete is quite a victory, I think any independent band knows the joy of this. This EP has managed to capture the first step in what we see as a bigger journey. As a band we’ve always believed in pacing ourselves so we can unfold a career. We understand and believe in evolution too much to stay stuck in one sound. This EP is strictly a starting point. In my mind it carries that classic sound of any bands first release. Giving you enough but not too much. Showing where we’ve come from and hinting at where we want to go. I’m proud of the songs we recorded, but for me, it’s the new stuff we are constantly writing that really gets me excited. If this EP gets people interested, that to me is a victory. We’re always trying to break our own formula. To paint an example, I hope that we travel a road similar to one of my favourite modern bands, the “Kings Of Leon.” “Kings of Leon” doesn’t really sound like us, but the way they have grown in such a short time, that’s what excites me, and this is how Cohagen Quaid view’s its evolution.
LNaP: The Brisbane music scene, despite producing acts such as The Butterfly Effect, Custard, Butterfingers, Violent Soho, Regurgitator, The Grates, and Powderfinger – to list a few – is still seen as the little brother to the Sydney and Melbourne scenes. How is it, as an emerging Brisbane band, to gain recognition?
DN: I’m not really into scene politics. I like to have an awareness of where everyone fits in and who is who, but I don’t like to partake in it, it’s too limiting. I’m not a believer in liking a band because it is birthed from a “scene” or a “town” or a “country.” I’m a citizen of the world first and foremost. If I like a band from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, New York, Seattle, London etc, it’s because they are an amazing band, not because of their location. I honestly believe it’s a really shallow way for people to judge music, based on the postcode or country. You can’t change anything with geography. We’d face the same challenges in any city. The advantage Sydney or Melbourne has over Brisbane would be the number of venues and areas to play. Beyond that, there is no difference. My two favourite Australian bands are “The Dirty Three” and “Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds” who are great examples of how you can act local but think global. Brisbane and Australia is a beautiful starting point, but it isn’t the only country that I want to belong too.
LNaP: Where does the band see themselves within the Brisbane scene?
DN: I wouldn’t really know. It’s quite a bizarre town when it comes to its “scene.” We certainly have a name and know heaps of bands, but “Cohagen Quaid” has always managed to slip on to many different bills. We’ve played with the west end hippies, the metal heads, the indie popsters and even managed to open for a dub band. I believe in people, so if we meet a group of musicians that resonate with us as people, regardless of there sound, we’ll play with them. You can’t fake honesty, so the pattern I’ve noticed is that quite often we end up sharing bills with honest musicians, who are creating and performing because they love the craft not the fashion. I honestly view “Cohagen Quaid” as the outsiders. I mean you’ve got a few options in Brisbane, you follow the hip indie crowd, the emo’s, the rootsy / singer songwriter or you go to rave parties. So many visual extremes mixed with fad and fashion, most of it reeking of bandwagon. So when people see our band, they’ve always been attracted to the energy and honesty of the performance and the songs. Choosing to work on craft instead of cashing in on trend is always going to work against you, but we’re hard workers and the hard work is starting to pay off. As a band we’re smart enough to attract the indie hipster whilst also speaking to the every day man. If I see an audience of smiling faces then I know I’ve done my job.
LNaP: You’re an unsigned band at the moment, how extensively are you able to tour in support of the album?
DN: I think it’s very easy. I mean the hardest part is getting the money together to do it, but if you’re looking at making it with music, you’ve got to tour. It’s the old “lose money to make money” philosophy. The Internet has made it a lot easier to get your name out there. It’s the only way to get into peoples lives. It’s not an easy existence in these early days, but the pure thrill of performing and meeting new people always makes it worthwhile.
LNaP: What Australian band would you ideally like to tour in support of?
DN: I’d love to share a stage with “Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds,” “The Dirty Three,” “Silverchair,” “Powderfinger,” “You Am I,” “Cog” and “Something For Kate.” Those are just long-term fantasies, but the Australian band I’d ideally like to support in this current musical climate would be “The Drones.” I personally fucking love everything this band has done. A real powerhouse both on record and in the live arena. You’d learn a lot touring with them. If an alien were to visit earth and ask me to show them the current sound of Australian music, I’d give them a couple of “Drones” records. So I’ve got my fingers crossed our paths will cross soon, “The Drone’s” I mean, not the aliens.
Thanks heaps to Dan. Be sure to trundle on over to Cohagen Quaid’s myspace and sample their fine tunes – and – if you’re anywhere near someone who knows directions to Brisbane, get to the Zoo for the launch of Winter and Her Sunrise, and if you happen to be one of the lucky first 50 punters through the doors, you’ll snag a free copy.
Thats right sportsfans – FREE Cohagen Quaid. Get in amongst it!