Manchester-based Cola Bay is a five-piece alt-rock band that draws inspiration from The Strokes and Queens of the Stone Age. They recently wrapped up recording their debut EP at Soundscape Studio, and they are now planning to perform live shows in 2022.
The debut EP Habits from Cola Bay includes their lead single, Vice, as well as five other songs that were recorded at Soundscape Studio. As evidenced by their energetic performances at 33 Oldham St. and Retro earlier this year, Cola Bay have created an EP that packs a punch and gets you dancing. Their songs draw inspiration from everything from the alt rock of the Strokes to the grunge rock of the Foo Fighters. Cola Bay is a five-piece alternative rock band from Manchester, United Kingdom. They emerged on the scene fully formed, with a sizable discography of catchy, grungy music and an energized live performance. They were formed from the ashes of several well-regarded previous bands. Check out their latest EP ‘Habits’ and the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
COLA BAY: We met on an online forum for local musicians to find bandmates and start projects. I posted a couple of tracks and the rest of the band got in touch, the next week we were in a practice room playing them. It feels a bit like telling someone you met your significant other on tinder, but that’s the 21st century for you.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
COLA BAY: We all come from different backgrounds musically, most of us having a mix of formal training and self teaching. With all of us playing in different bands before Cola Bay, we all had enough experience to get songs sounding great from our very first rehearsal.
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘COLA BAY’?
COLA BAY: When we formed, I quoted Queens Of The Stone Age and the Strokes as the biggest influences to my songwriting. However, the band listen to a very wide variety of music, from pop to metal and grunge – a key part of the writing since we formed has been trying to account for everyone’s tastes and find the right balance between “hit me baby one more time” and “raining blood”.
The name Cola Bay was a reference to the amount of cola that I drink. A sea of empty cans, a “Cola Bay”. Is it the most descriptive name? No. But today you need a name that people can find on the first page of Google. We’re happy to be the first and last band called Cola Bay.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
COLA BAY: Our music has darks and lights, similar to Pixies. If you like catchy, upbeat choruses but also crave big riffs, heavy refrains, and gruff vocals, we think you’d get on well with our sound. We think the themes of our songs are relatable, talking about living in the UK in 2022, feeling under pressure in the post-covid landscape, addiction, love, loss – things people are going through right now.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
All music is inherently political. Absence of asking for change when you have a stage to shout it from is endorsement of the status quo. Things are rough, we all feel it, we all know something isn’t right. We want to be a band who will stand up and say that, and criticise the powers that be. People are suffering, we want to represent that and demand better.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
The music is its own reward. We’d still be making and recording music if there wasn’t a venue to play at and if no soul on earth was listening. Anything else is a bonus. We would love to reach a wider audience, to spread a message, to entertain, to share our hard work, but if we never make it beyond a few thousand listens, I know we’d just be happy we made art and shared it with the world (even if the world wasn’t listening).
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
I usually throw around ideas until something sounds workable. Sometimes it’s a guitar or bass riff, sometimes it’s a drum pattern. On rare occasions, a whole song idea with melody, instrumentation and a theme just arrive fully formed, but for the most part, it’s a process of starting with something simple, building on it over a few hours of trial and error, and then writing lyrics and a melody that fit the energy of the track. We collectively write around a track for a fortnight, but only a select few do we end up taking into the rehearsal room. You have to write a lot of bad songs before you find the perfect fit.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
COLA BAY: There are these invisible walls between each stage of building a music project. It starts with finding the right members, a challenge in itself. Then you’ve got getting off the ground, getting a first show, recording your first release. The most recent that we’re still trying to push through is getting the music out there beyond your family and friends. There’s a lot of music out there and rising above the crowd of other bands and artists is no easy feat. With no publicist and limited funds, it’s tough to know how to proceed. At every hurdle you have to keep momentum, you have to keep the project alive and try to make progress where you can. We’re still pushing to reach more people, and we’re going to keep on pushing.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
COLA BAY: We’re proud to keep on moving forward. Each gig, we try to bring more people, to play better, to have a tighter set. As far as we’re concerned, our tracks, our shows, and our fanbase is on an upward trajectory. We’re most proud of being here, at the end of a year of hard work, and being able to look back and say “look how far we’ve come”. We hope we can keep saying that every year that passes.
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