It seems like a long time ago- nine years in fact- that David Goulborn and myself were slaving away over hot stoves in a tiny kitchen in Bath. It was around about that time that the rock band, Coasts was formed. They have had a string of successes from having their music on the FIFA soundtrack and the hit TV series Made In Chelsea to their UK tour, which they are about to embark on this May in Edinburgh. I caught up with Goulborn, who plays keys for the band, to talk worldwide tours, breaking down on the motorway after a gig and how they rose to success.
So David, at what point did you decide to take your music seriously and to take it to the next level?
I don’t think it was until we finished university that we actually decided to start taking it seriously. Whilst we were at university we would go months without rehearsing and would just play the odd shows at local venues, but nothing serious. Once we finished studying we all made the conscious effort to really go for it and we started rehearsing four full days a week.
Set a target for yourself and see if you can achieve that, then you can decide whether you have succeeded.
During university then, did it feel as if it would always be just a pipe dream and nothing more?
We always felt that we’d have a chance at some point; we kept getting knocked back by things but we kept going. I don’t know whether it was blind faith or whether we just really didn’t want to get normal jobs. We always cited Snow Patrol as they were together for years and years before they got anywhere and you see that happening more and more in the music industry now. It takes time for bands and artists to get signed now and the ones who have those years behind them are set up for more longevity in the industry, in my opinion.
Since you’ve been together, what has been your greatest achievement to date?
We’ve had some really good ones; but I’d say the pinnacle was probably releasing our debut album and seeing the physical copy in shops like HMV that you shopped in as a kid. There’s something really special about being able to hold that record that you’ve made. Besides that, playing festivals like Glastonbury, Coachella and Lollapalooza have been amazing and something that we always dreamt of.
But how would you measure your success? Album sales? Tickets sold?
I think success is all relative. What constitutes success for one artist might constitute failure for another. If you’re a band on a small independent label and you get your album in to the Top 40 then it’s a success, but if you’re signed to a major [label] and you don’t make the Top 10 then it’s deemed a failure. Obviously album sales, ticket sales and streaming stats are good measures of success and failure, but it’s knowing where the bar has been set for you. It’s different for every artist though and some artists will do very well on live performances and merchandise whereas other artists will sell a lot of records and gain a lot of streams but struggle to sell tickets. I think your best gauge is to set a target for yourself and see if you can achieve that, then you can decide whether you have succeeded.
How difficult was it financially when you were starting up?
It was tough financially when we first started out; we were rehearsing 4 days a week in a studio and then working Friday, Saturday and Sunday in restaurants so that we had enough money to pay our rent and to rent the rehearsal space. Obviously at that point you don’t really get paid for gigs either, so we were taking taxis to gigs or driving to London and playing for free just in the hope that someone would see us.
Money is always pretty tight in the music industry until you make that jump up to playing to 2000 people every night
One time we were driving back from a London show where a potential booking agent was meant to come and see us and he no-showed and then our car broke down on the way home and we thought maybe that was it as we couldn’t afford to keep doing it but then we got the money through the very next day for an advert one of our songs had been used on and it was literally the same amount as we needed to fix the car. So we kept on going. Money is always pretty tight in the music industry until you make that jump up to playing to 2000 people every night with sold out shows all over the world. Fingers crossed that we’ll make that jump soon.
You’ve managed to reach a level of popularity and success relatively quickly from when you started, why do you think this is?
We had been in a number of bands before Coasts, so for us, it wasn’t that quick. I think it can often look that way for people on the outside but it always seems to take too long for the artist. You’ve got these songs written, then you’ve got them recorded and you’ve still got to wait 6 months for the album to come out. So you’ve got to be very patient in this industry and not try to rush things. We were lucky in that our song Oceans gained a lot of traction very quickly after we put it out, but it still took a long time for our debut album to come out after that.
Having had successful UK and US tours, has your attitude changed?
I don’t think our attitude has changed, we still approach every tour in the same way. We love playing live and that’s the reason we are in this band and have kept going- to play our songs to people all over the world. We’ve been lucky enough to see and visit some amazing places and are hoping to go to some new places we’ve never been before this year.
Do you feel more settled now you’re more established or are you always striving to be more successful?
We’re always striving to be more successful. We want to sell more records, play bigger shows, increase our following and generally grow as a band all the time. Things could definitely have been done differently with our debut album campaign, we know that and we’ve learnt from those things and can take new ideas forward to hopefully achieve our goals. We have very loft ambitions as a band and one day we’d like to be one of the biggest bands in the world, but you have to be patient and realise that takes time.
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