As a band with eight albums and countless touring hours to their name, THE CORAL are well versed in the art of killing time; or, perhaps more accurately, the skill of making sure that the hours spent in studios, and on tour buses shuttling between venues, don’t go to waste. Far from being a monotony for them, they actually use these gaps in between as a source of inspiration – for upcoming projects, music and just musing about life.
While touring their last album – 2016’s Distance Inbetween – the band did what they always do, whiling away the hours chatting about the landscapes and lives whizzing past outside the window. Coming after a fiver-year hiatus as a touring act, this experience acted as a great catalyst for the five-piece, forcing them to think about their music and its place in the world.
During this period, and the subsequent studio sessions for their latest LP (Move Through The Dawn), the band’s keyboardist Nick Power started keeping notes; of the jokes, half-forgotten conversations, service stations, dressing rooms and endless stretches of motorways. With two books and a short story collection already under his belt, Power decided to tie all these thoughts into another tome. Into The Void is the result, and it serves as a companion piece to the band’s new record. Published by Erbacce Press, Into The Void is an insightful, amusing and evocative first hand account of the recording, release and touring of Distance Inbetween, and of the early conversations that led up to the recording and writing of Move Through The Dawn.
To mark the release of The Coral’s eighth album (released on 10th August), we’ve got an exclusive extract from Into The Void, detailing a short period of musings when the band were on tour with Supergrass in America. You can find the excerpt below, as well as a video where Power expands on the feelings that went into the book.
You can even buy a signed copy of the book now, as the perfect companion to Move Through The Dawn. The group’s latest effort sees them move away from the heavy, driving riffage of Distance Inbetween, and back to a more melodic, ‘classic Coral’ sound. The LP’s closing track, After The Fair, even dates back to the Butterfly House days, and features fingerpicked guitar from Power himself.
America again, and zooming through border towns; hot days in Amarillo and Denver, the outskirts of Detroit in one-room hotels, and then the city itself; walking up a crowded highway toward the Motown studio and taking the guided tour.
Inside the Motown building we were led around while a tour guide reeled off facts that we already knew. At some point we slipped away from the group and tiptoed back toward the locked studio. There, we ghosted through a partition in the wall and entered the recording space; a drum kit in the corner, a broken piano at a painted wall. A vintage microphone on a polished stand. My Girl. Smokey. James Jamerson. You could feel them.
At a truck stop in Arizona we bedded down in a novelty hotel built in the style of some deep-south bordello from the 1800s. White painted carriage wheels and fake chandeliers hanging from ceilings and walls. In a burlesque restaurant on the same retail park we sat and ate steaks the size of our arms. The restaurant was built in the style of an old speakeasy. There was a stage beyond the seating area where an extended playground swing hung down from the high rafters.
At some point, a young burlesque dancer mounted the swing and began moving, swooping back and forth like a pendulum, kicking her legs going forward and bringing them in going back. The swing must have gone fifty-foot high into the ceiling. We were transfixed. When she reached the top, she kicked this huge bell that rang out all around the restaurant.
After the show she walked around the tables introducing herself as Evelyn-Rose. I stared back, slack-jawed. I’ll never forget it.
Days later, a show in Seattle had to be cancelled when we were snowed in at a truck stop south-east of there, near Denver. We didn’t do anything much but lurk around a gas station, smoke weed and watch movies.
We camped out with Supergrass (who we were touring with) on the adjacent bus sometimes, singing with an old lap-steel that Mickey, the bass player, had procured from a thrift store. They boarded a plane to make that night’s gig.
When we ran out of weed, our road crew ventured out into the nearby bars to test the water. They were a tight crew who’d come up in the 80s with The Stairs and The La’s and Marshmallow Overcoat, and they weren’t phased by anything really, and I saw them on the last night on my way back from the all night garage, bags of crisps stuffed under my arms.
They were in the corner of the car park sharing a joint with a couple of local truck drivers. They gave me the thumbs-up as I skulked past them toward the bus and a coffin-bunk, to lose myself for three days in a curvature of quilts and dream about California while the snow thawed.