Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Recording & News

We're pretty excited right now because we're going to attempt the recording of 3 songs tomorrow. Mostly we want to get Tractor in the Hay down, so we can use this in conjunction with our article in the upcoming exhibit magazine. We're planning to do some basic recordings of The Ruse and our version of Release too. We thought these 3 songs formed a fairly good cross-section of our sound, so hopefully there's something to appeal to everyone in this basket :)

We've been preparing for the recording by practicing, talking rubbish, practicing some more, gossiping, re-arranging some bits and then practicing those, and then chattering like the girls we are for the remainder of the practice, while Linda shouts out our safe word in last ditch attempt to get us to stop wasting time. We're ready though, because we have the foresight to factor in an inordinate amount of time wasting!

Tonight we're going to have a pre-recording band meeting, and then we're off to check out Sidecar Fire at the Mercury, hopefully we'll see some of you there because they're a really awesome band and well worth venturing out for!

In other news, we've been asked to play at the re-opening of Gotham, which is exciting for many reasons, but in particular because we will finally get to share a stage with The Sleepers. Incidentally, they're in the process of migrating their facebook page, so hop along and become a fan on the shiny new page

Back to the grindstone, on leave for 2 days and need to ensure everything's in order before I disappear up to JHB to visit some friends I haven't seen in 6 years!

xx H

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Lesserknown Facts

Some things you may or may not know about Coal:
  • We're an all girl 5 piece from Cape Town
  • We started out with Sherri on drums, Helen on bass and Vera on guitar - playing in Ronnie from Terminatryx's bedroom until fate sent us down different paths
  • For the first 2 months we literally played Feline's Release Me over and over, and over... and over again, every practice [this got boring pretty quickly, and we spent a lot of time rummaging in magazines for inspiration on our styling, which has definitely paid off!]
  • We recruited Linda by bribing her with the promise of ripe avocados at every band meeting - a deal we have, so far, managed to make good on.
  • We prepared to audition about 15 vocalists, but only 3 ever turned up for auditions, thankfully Cathy was one of them - as she is really quite good!!
  • 2/3 of the band would dump their boyfriends if Win Butler from the Arcade Fire came knocking.
  • We all communicate religiously via e-mail and are probably being given the beady eye by our respective bosses as we speak. Except for Helen "employee of the year" Westcott!
  • Sherri and Helen are overly fond of tequila. Which simultaneously pleases and horrifies our manager Sean Wienand.
  • Vera and Helen used to be in Wicked City / I, Villain together... with Philip, who sings Henry Lee with us!
  • We have a "safe word" to stop us from talking rubbish too much during practice. By all accounts bands without women in them do not suffer from this particular problem ;)
  • We celebrated the success of our first gig by eating cake and drinking tea in Cathy's lounge. That's how girls rock 'n' roll.
  • You will always find us at The Sleepers' gigs, and not just because over half of us are dating over half of them, but rather because they're simply mindblowingly incredible. We also really really love Sidecar Fire
  • We were interviewed by last night, which we're really excited about!
  • We're going to record 3 or 4 songs, time permitting, next week.
  • We're all in awe of NIN and Trent Reznor, and not just the music, his marketing and merchandising ideas are genius. Helen also saw NIN live at Reading in 2007, and Trent Reznor kicked a stage hand, which was well amusing - though not sufficiently so to inspire recreating it herself.
  • Our vocalist is dating our manager, recipe for disaster anyone? ;)
  • Vera has been berated twice now for removing her glasses on stage. This is an astonishing track record, given we've only played 3 gigs!
  • Adam Hill designed all of our cameo badges, in exchange for Helen's famous butternut lasagne
... we've still got 3 installments of "a day in the life" to go, so everyone will have ample opportunity to find out more about us as the weeks go on!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A day in the life of Linda

(Linky plinky-plonk extraordinaire)

I am still trying to figure out what I want to be one day when I am big. In the meantime I spend my working days typing and reading and bitching about the news. And trying to block out the office radio. I’m not a music snob (mostly) but I have to draw the line at bubblegum pop covers of The Cure. Sacrilege! I miss TUKS fm. Especially when I worked on the music committee during my student days and could playlist Deftones on a Sunday morning. \m/ (metal sign :)

First thing on a week day my cell alarm will go off. (Fiesta, for those of you with Nokias.) Its merry ridiculousness cheers me up in the early morn darkness. After I manage to drag myself out from under all my fluffy blankets I begin the daily shower/beverage/breakfast dance with my housemate (and boyfriend) to the tune of whatever we fancy. It varies from A Perfect Circle to Vivaldi to Radiohead to The Arcade Fire. (Sometimes we really dance and I try not to lead.)

I then begin my drive to work in my little skedonk, curse all the people who push in the queue on the M5, and get lost in my head while listening to my little pink MP3 player. At the moment my playlist includes Queens of the Stone Age, Incubus, and O’stravanganza (a celtic/classical combo with loads of beautiful strings). During the trip I often try to eat home-made popcorn, but most of it ends up on the floor.

I am assistant editor at a boutique publishing house, where I work on a handful of trade magazines. I edit and write news, interviews and other features, and deal with clients. The office is reasonably small, so there is never a queue to use the kettle (yay) and my colleagues are awesome. I used to be an English teacher at a high school in town, but I wasn’t allowed to swear or wear anything low-cut, so that became a problem.

After work I often go to the local library (*nerd alert*) and scout for cool novels to read. I love the soft amber lights and the way everyone there is quietly industrious – it’s like a bustling but peaceful community of word lovers. I do this, or go wander around Canal Walk, because I can’t bear sitting in traffic.

It thrills me to find bargains at the cheapie shops or spend time admiring all the beautiful paper, ribbons and lace at that crafty store downstairs near Checkers. And one day when I die I will go to Woolworths. Soft brushed cotton sheets! White mature cheddar! Beautiful lacy lingerie! Snoopy pjs! Vanilla body butter!


When I get home, Simon is usually singing in the study so I get to guiltily watch Isidingo. (Don’t tell.) I find it very therapeutic to chop, stir and cook, and really enjoy the whole ‘slow food’ notion. (Less fast-food and processed nonsense, more fresh things and home-cooked meals.)

Because both my boyfriend and I are struggling musicians/writers/artists, the meals I make are usually ‘bubble and squeak’ combinations of whatever is in the fridge. One day when I am rich I will be able to buy exactly what I feel like all the time. (I foresee many perfectly ripe Haas avocados; that red Woolies pesto; Lindt extra creamy; Stilton cheese; and white Chocobreak cookies on the menu. But not together.) My lovely personal minstrel will often play guitar and sing while I cook and sip on Shiraz. Most evenings I go out to see people, munch yummy things like sushi or homemade anything, make beautiful music (or trees!) with the Coal ladies, quaff wine/beer/whisky in cosy places, or watch dvds on the couch if the weather is poo, which it often is during soggy Cape winters.

Weekends usually involve lots of socialising and sunbeams and band practice at Kill City Blues. Hey, it’s better than book club! (This, erm, charming sentiment, uttered by a fellow musician one Saturday at practice, keeps us motivated to be first and foremost a good band, not just a group of chicks who are on a break from more ‘suitable’ feminine occupations.)

Heading out to watch live local music and lurk with the rest of CT’s music-loving community is also a weekend treat for me, as well as the rest of the band. If The Sleepers are playing, I will be there with my pompoms out. I am, however, having a little trouble getting Simon into the cheerleader outfit for Coal shows. Just give me time...

Do return next week when one of the other Coal ladies will spill their pretty beans.


Monday, July 13, 2009

About that chick...

About that chick, Cathy...

Coal has been hard at work practise-practise-practising this weekend and it has been really productive.
The gals have decided that we should each write about a day in the life of each of us, so as to get to know us better.
It's the perfect day for this kind of past time. It's raining non-stop, and I'm looking forward to snuggling on the couch with my Daschund, Oscar and watching loads of DVD's, but first things first.

I'm self employed, and do many different jobs. No two days are ever the same, thankfully.
This week I'm playing day-mother to my nephew, Connor. He's a six month old darling, who is so cute,
I want to squeeze him till he pops! No, seriously, I love him a lot!!!
He comes with me to work, which is a company myself and my friend, Lenka run.
We specialise in designer Corsets and wedding dresses. At the moment we are working on a dress for
a friend of ours, Kim Turner.
It's a really creative line of work which allows me to indulge my fantasies. Should anyone be curious about what these items may look like, look for the Secret Garden Group on Facebook.

I must just add, I admire any woman who manages to balance motherhood and work. The weeks when I go to work with the baby on my hip, are the ones where I wish I had an extra pair of arms and maybe a pair of eyes in my arse. I'm shattered at the end of the day!

I also do Shiatsu, a Japanese style of massage based on Traditional Chinese Medicine. Should you see me pressing the Acupuncture points of my fellow musicians at a gig....that's what I'm doing.
I love being able to help people out when they are in a bad way, and fortunately Shiatsu is a fabulous medium.
Funny that most of my clients are musicians...somehow this therapy suits the physical demands of the profession. It's fabulous for all the aches and pains which result from playing an instrument, and it also benefits vocalists, to improve vocal range and control.

I also teach Shiatsu twice a week at the Academy of Shiatsu in Green Point. My students are about to start their third module of training out of five.
The course that we teach takes about a year and a half to complete, and is very thorough.
We teach all the techniques one could need as a practitioner as well as Traditional Chinese Medicinal theory as it applies to Shiatsu Massage.
So all in, when I'm not playing the violin and singing with the girls, I'm quite a busy person.

Being in a band with these girls is a real privilege. I saw the ad which Helen posted in the LMG, at the beginning of the year (Hooray for Mike Smith!!), one sunny afternoon while sipping Margueritas at the Fat Cactus, and sooner than you can say:"Gringo!"I had called Helen and set up an audition.

Thankfully, I made the grade and so the journey began...
I've been playing Irish Traditional folk music with what's called a Session for the last 12 years, so Coal is a new departure for me, which I'm loving!!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Slow Burning

Today we're back in the practice room finetuning some of the songs and the set. Unfortunately Philip wasn't able to sing Henry Lee with us at last week's gig due to being out of the country, but he's back for the July 22nd gig at ROAR!

I've only just managed to scrub the last remaining flecks of paint off my lounge tiles, so I suppose it's time for a new art project?

Some exciting news is that we've been asked to feature in the next Exhibit online magazine, which involves submitting a recording - so everyone who's been asking for something they can take home with them is finally seeing their ship come in! We're really keen to get some of the songs recorded and Nicolai Roos & Sven Oxtoby have graciously offered to help us out here. We'll be in the studio at the end of July and hope to have something for your ears by mid-August.

Check out the exhibit magazine here: our old friends Ivan and Jason from I, Villain are featured with their new band, Fezray... along with our favourite local band The Sleepers, who we obviously have somewhat of a complicated uhm 'relationship' with ;)

xx H

Monday, July 6, 2009

Coal's Trees

I couldn't tell you now how we settled on the idea of creating little forests for ourselves at every gig, but the subsequent concept has swiftly become inextricable from our band identity.

A lot of hard work goes into making our trees, some of which we've documented so you can all get a little backstage view of everything.

It is incredibly tricky to make something that is aesthetically pleasing, easy to transport and poses very little hassle in pre-gig setup. The tree banners we painted for our launch gig achieved only 2 of the 3 criteria, and took more time to setup than we'd anticipated. Cathy and I spent a good few hours the day before the gig ensuring that the banners looked good, and didn't interfere with us too much on stage.

The trees we constructed out of cardboard for our 2nd gig, at Kunskafee, were far more successful as far as setup was concerned, but my flat looked like a team of professional paintballers had been through there when we were done, and I'm still cleaning tiny bits of clear packaging tape off the floor!

Regardless of the amount of effort that went into both sets, we had an extraordinary amount of fun creating them, and they were a great additional creative outlet for all of us too.

So without further ado, here is a link to some of the behind the scenes shots of the trees, via our flickr photostream:
x Helen

Friday, July 3, 2009

Embers of Coal

Exciting things are happening in the land of Coal.

We are all still reeling from our incredibly successful debut gig, which saw the Mercury Lounge packed to capacity on a very cold and rainy Cape Town evening. We could never have fathomed such a warm reception to this very special project of ours.

We have now entered into a management agreement with Headline Artists! We are also really excited to be working with Jon Monsoon at Plus 1 Media Productions.

Our website is nearly up and running - we plan to make it as interactive as possible and will all be blogging regularly so you can all get a peek into the enchanting world of Coal.

Right now we're preparing for our 2nd gig, which is at Kunskafee on Saturday 4th July. We hope to see everyone there!