FINAL COIL came as a blank to me but I gotta say that they impressed me so much that I am glad that I did this interview. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Let’s start with your latest recording. When you look back at it now what kind of feelings do you have for it?
Hi, I’m Phil the singer and guitarist of Final Coil. First up, thank you for the very interesting questions!
The recording was just amazing. This is our first recording for our new label, Wormholedeath, and so we obviously wanted to get everything exactly right. We spent almost twelve months going back and forth between label, band and studio choosing songs and getting them to the point that they were ready and, to be honest, we were so involved in the process that we didn’t think too much about actually getting into the studio. Then, suddenly, after all that work (and the logistical nightmare of moving the entire band from the UK to Italy at Christmas time), we were in the studio and it flew by! The producer, Wao, is just great, a total pro and a really nice guy, and he has these two engineers, Luca and Cicio who were so cool and friendly, and they all totally got what we wanted to do from the first day so all the discussions we had were basically “how can we make this better?” They were really respectful of what we had done, but when they felt that we could do something better they had great suggestions and I think that we followed almost every single one because they always helped to serve the music.
That flowed through into the mastering of the album as well – because, of course, recording Is only half the story, and we were really lucky because Magnus Lindberg (Cult of Luna) kindly agreed to work with us, and he’s just a total professional and we talked about how the record should sound and the type of music that inspired us and he came back with pretty much what you hear on the record. There was one revision, I think, and that was it. For me, it was a total blast and I just hope I get the chance to do it again and, if it comes about, I’m pretty sure it’ll be with the same people because we made such a great team and that’s hard to find!
I am fascinated by band names. What was it that made you settle on the one you have and what does it mean to you?
-The name Final Coil comes from my lifelong love of literature. There are many references to coils throughout classical literature and, of course, the word coil was commonly used to symbolise tumult in the 16th Century.
In particular I was, and remain, very much inspired by Shakespeare and in Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be?” soliloquy the phrase “this mortal coil” is used to symbolise death. However, there is a band called This Mortal Coil and I can’t imagine they’d fancy some gloomy English alt/prog band stealing their name so I took the influence rather than the phrase. Then, of course, we can go back even further to Dante’s ‘Inferno’ which symbolises the seven levels of hell as coiling down into the depths, and so we see, once again, that dark attraction to be found in coils. So, to get back to the point (sorry!) the name Final Coil is representative of the final tumultuous event and that seems to fit our music perfectly.
What does it mean to you that there are people out there that actually appreciate and look forward to what you are doing?
-We’ve been around for a while and, I’m sure many other bands can appreciate this, when we started, we played to one man and his dog… and sometimes the dog left! So, when we started, we made this music for ourselves. But over time we’ve started to see an audience emerge and, I can’t tell you… it means the world to me. I write the music that I want to hear – that’s paramount because the sole criteria for any music that I listen to is that it has to be passionate and from the heart… but to know that there are people out there who actually want to listen and share in what we do, that’s amazing to me.
How important is image to the band? What impression do you want the fans to get of the band?
-If you’d asked me that two years ago I would have said not at all, but in the last year we started to work on a coherent image for the band where we started to think about how we wanted to be perceived and we realised that the bands we really loved (Pink Floyd, Katatonia, Anathema, Tool) weren’t kicking around on stage in jeans and whatever band t shirt they’d thrown on that day. They weren’t wearing outfits as such, but they had a contiguous look and were shorn of imagery advertising anything outside of the band. So we almost have an anti-image, if you like, where we’re a blank canvass and the focus is on the music we play and not what band is on our shirts. Dark, unassuming, and yet coherent. And it made a difference. Almost immediately we started to function better on stage as a unit, as if by shedding our daytime clothes we were able to make a greater distinction between the world and the performance… and the performance has to be everything. I’ve always put my heart and soul into a show, but I think that if you see Final Coil now, you’ll see four individuals completely subsumed to the music.
I am a huge fan of LP art work. How important is it to have the right art work for your album?
-Oh, me too!!!! And one hundred percent! I’m a huge physical music fan, I grew up with CD and, especially, vinyl and I know that Rich (guitars / vocals) and Jola (bass) feel exactly the same way. I know that you can get music digitally, but there’s nothing like the feel of a record and then opening it up to find images and notes that tell you that the band have really worked on the record. A true album is more than just a collection of songs. It has an ebb and a flow, art work that represents the content and liner notes that you want to read. If I was going to finally get my chance to put out a debut album with a label, the artwork had to be absolutely right and Andy (Pilkington), the artist we turned to got that immediately. It was his idea, not mine, to do the extended, gatefold artwork and when I saw it my jaw just dropped. And the label… I didn’t know if they’d like it, but they were so cool and supportive and they basically said “do what you have to do!” and so that’s the story behind that. But, and here’s the thing, it’s about getting the right people and, you know, I wanted a great cover but I could never have dreamed of a piece of art as amazing as the cover Andy did for us. That he could listen to our music, and we sent him the original demos, and come back with that means more to me, I think, than any review. That cover came from the heart and it’s a beautiful piece of work and we’re all so, so proud of it.
We live in a superficial world today where you don’t exist if you are not on Youtube and Facebook. Has social media been only beneficial in socializing with the fans or is there a down side to it too?
-Well, I have a tendency to be very negative about social media (and we’ll get to that) but, of course, without social media / the internet or what have you I wouldn’t be talking to you, so I can most assuredly see the upside. In terms of benefits, social media allows bands like mine to reach fans that, twenty years ago or more, we would never have reached and that’s a great opportunity. Also, it gives the opportunity to reach out personally to our fans and I always make a point of trying to speak to those people who have supported us because there is a connection there and I like to take the time to thank those who have helped us get to the point where we can make an album.
Music is an art, and it’s the work of someone’s life and social media does have a tendency to trivialise that. When I was young I used to discover music through friends and through magazines and then I had to work to find it. I must have scoured ten record shops or more, for example, to get hold of some of the records that make up my collection and the challenge was part of the joy of discovering new music. As a teenager I was a HUGE fan of Sub Pop – Mudhoney, Soundgarden, (of course) Nirvana, TAD – I mean these are great bands, but no one stocked them in the UK back in the early 90s, or at least relatively few places, and so you had to look. And then, when you found your record you treasured it, listening obsessively and reading the liner notes and so on. Now you can find anything at any time and that sense of anticipation just seems lost somehow.
To be honest, even today I wait until an album is physically in my hands, even if I get an advance MP3, before listening, because I still love that feeling of sitting back and letting a really good band take me on a journey. There’s still so much good music, but I find it hard to imagine in such an instant age that a band like Pink Floyd would be given the time to develop and grow in the way that they did. Everything has to be big, and instant and immediate or people just switch off and that’s hard I think.
When you play in a band does it feel like you are a part of a massive community? That you belong to something that gives meaning to your life?
-I don’t know about massive and it depends on where you are, but if you’re lucky (and we truly are), then there is a community for sure. hHre in Leicester I’d say there wasn’t much for years and when we started it often felt like us against the world… but then, a few years back a guy called Simon from another local band (Resin) started promoting and he’s just built this great scene and now there are some really cool events taking place, some of which we’ve been privileged to play. It makes a difference and I can say for sure that since the scene has started to grow here in Leicester we’ve enjoyed going out a hell of a lot more. And, I don’t want to sound too negative about the past because there were always people in Leicester who were willing to come out and we did have some great nights, but it just seems a lot more coherent now.
But in a smaller sense I do think that the band becomes like family. I mean we travel together, we stayed in one room for twenty days to record together, we rehearse twice a week, every week and you just get to know one another.
So, we’re a close knit band, I think, and, to answer the second part of your question, the quest to create something together certainly helps to give greater meaning to life. Whatever you do, creativity should always be at the forefront because to create; whether it’s art, or music or literature; is one of the great pinnacles of human achievement. It means the world to me that I get to spend time with three intelligent, articulate people and create this music and that people want to listen to that too… dude!!!! It’s just brilliant.
When you are in the middle of it do you notice what state our beloved music scene is in? Is the scene healthy or does it suffer from some ailment?
-Interesting question. I think it’s possible to see both too many negatives and too many positives when you’re in the middle. The truth is there is an amazing variety of music out there and anyone who claims there isn’t, simply isn’t looking in the right places. Just looking at the roster on our label (Wormholedeath) throws up so many amazing bands that are worthy of people’s time and the label is eclectic: you know there’s us and then there’s Words that Burn who are super heavy and super cool and, of course, one of the bands that made me want to sign to WHD in the first place – The Way of Purity – who are just the most passionate, amazing artists and they have a vision and a set of beliefs that they won’t bend for anyone. That’s amazing to me and to share a label with those guys is mind blowing.
And of course on a larger scale and outside of my immediate sphere, there is so much talent out there – really great bands making music that’s passionate and original and exciting – but it’s easy to get blinded by the choice and, unfortunately, a lot of people simply grab for what’s easy or familiar rather than really look and that’s where you start to get all those ‘rock is dead’ comments.
How much of a touring band are you guys? How hard is it to get gigs outside of your borders?
-We play a lot of gigs but we haven’t yet toured, but we intend to. When this album comes out in June we’ll do some gigs, but what we really want is to try and get some dates after the physical release in September and we really want to hit Europe, so… if you’re reading this and want us to play, let us know – then we can find out how hard it is to cross borders… but you know, we travelled to Italy to record, so I’m pretty sure we can get in a van and tour as well 😉
What will the future bring?
-Well, who knows? World War 3? But, assuming the world doesn’t go up in flames, then I have no plans to stop this anytime soon. I have three fantastic band mates and I’m already writing songs for a second album, so we’re here for the long haul. Right now, though, we’re working on a music video for a track from the album (more on that soon), I’m just finishing a series of very short making of clips to go with the album and I hope to get started on tour plans soon. So that’s the immediate future. In the longer term, it’d be nice to look into getting the album on vinyl (it’s definitely a record we made with vinyl in mind), but we’d need help with that because it’s an expensive damn thing to do; and we want to take this record to as many people as will have us. We want this thing to be heard!
Thank you so much for the great questions!!!