How do you follow up being in influential and experimental Brooklyn hardcore/jazz band Candiria? If you’re vocalist Carley Coma, it’s by joining up with Park Lane, a band whose hard rock leanings have more in common with Candiria’s latter-day material than their genre-bending earlier music. With the band’s debut album, Letters From the Fire, coming out tomorrow (20), we spoke with Coma and guitarist Michael Keller about how Coma joined up with the Bay Area band, how they wrote together on different coasts, and his decision to join a straight-ahead rock band.
Carley, can you talk about the transition from Candiria to Park Lane, which is a more mass-appeal band?
Candiria definitely had the desire and the ability to meld different genres together. The transition actually wasn’t that hard because if you listen to the record that we did with [producer] David Bendeth, What Doesn’t Kill You, I was already starting to go into that direction, and extend that theme with metal and rock and melody. The album after that, Kiss the Lie, was a little darker but once again still experimenting with rock, metal, and melody, so the transition was quite seamless actually, and if anything, Candiria prepared me for this and made it a lot easier for me.
Going back, how much of the decision on What Doesn’t Kill You to make a really commercial hard rock record was yours and how much was the band’s?
It was something that David Bendeth actually kind of challenged us [to do]. He was like ‘you guys used to try different things and how about you try melody? David sent me to a local coach and really helped me out and really improved my vocals like that. But it was pretty much a band decision. I know one of the guys in the band didn’t agree with it too much, he wanted to stay heavy all the way, but that’s the direction where most of us wanted to go to, so we went with it.
How much time was there in between Candiria ending and you joining Park Lane?
Candiria ended in 2005, the last Candiria album came out in 2006, so five years or something like that, and I play in another band as well [Hope Kills Fear], which is once again rock and pretty much mostly singing, so once it really prepared me for Park Lane. When I heard the music for the first time I was like ‘man this is what ive been looking for, this is perfect for what I want to do.’
How did you wind up joining Park Lane, since you’re from New York and they’re from the West Coast?
They’re out of the Bay Area. They sent me a MySpace message letting me know that they were looking for vocalists and were interested in me trying out for them. I heard the instrumental version of “The Edge” and I was floored right away. I said ‘man I gotta write for this, whether I end up joining the band or not, I definitely want to write for them.’ I sat down, listened to the music and everything just naturally poured out of me. And I called up the guys, sent it to them, and they told me that they loved it and they sent me another one and I wrote out another one, so I was pumping out about a song a week, by the 8th song they flew me out there, we rehearsed together, and everything just jived well, the chemistry was perfect, on point, and we kind of knew right there that this was meant to be.
I would imagine you were in demand after Candiria broke up, right? Were there a lot of other more established bands hitting you up as well?
There were a couple bands hitting me up, some established, some not, that wanted me to come try out for them, and I just really didn’t feel connected to what I was hearing, I didn’t really want to do it. I started my own band, so I was still doing that as well, but like I said, once I heard Park Lane, it was hard for me to say no. Sometimes, for the most part, people say long distance relationships don’t work, but so far so good, as of now everything’s been working out quite well.
And now you’re on tour opening for Fuel. Is this the band’s first big tour?
Yes, it’s the first big tour with me in it, Kenny [Schalk]from Candiria is actually playing drums for Fuel so we’re going to be touring together, but with different bands, so that should be cool. The first show I did with Park Lane was with the Chi Cheng benefit, and it was for a great cause and were really on that night, and the energy was great and the songs sounded awesome. If that was just one show, I can imagine how its going to sound like just being on the road for two months.
How many shows have you played as a band?
One. Ive only played one show so far, everything else we’ve been working on behind the scenes, business stuff.
So it’s going to be trial by fire then.
I’ll tell you something right now – after that first show, I just knew that it wasn’t going to be a problem playing with these guys, it’s really that much of a natural fit, I’m not concerned at all.
Have you already gotten to the point where you are jamming on stuff that would be for the next record yet?
Oh yeah, Mike’s on the phone right now – Mike, tell them about some of the stuff.
Mike Keller: I’ve already written about 35 new songs for the next record, and I’ve sent them to Carley and he loves the new direction and just having him in the band has definitely focused our writing a lot more. So for the next record you can expect a little bit more heaviness, a little bit more technicality. We’re really excited for the second record or at least for what were working on for sure.
With the new record coming out, what are your thoughts on the way people consume music now, with Spotify, the other streaming services, Apple?
When the whole internet thing happened, with the people in the industry, it just completely shook everything right at its core so were like ‘how do we adapt to this,’ and I think the good part about it is the artist has a lot more control, and I think its a lot easier for the fans and listeners, to go buy the album, they don’t have to wait on line for a record or whatever the case may be. I think it’s cool, theres a lot more ways for people to get ahold of your songs, and I like it.
What are your plans for after the Fuel tour?
Mike: We have some contacts from a couple labels and a couple of management companies and basically we’re going to take it step by step and see what comes out of it. We’re definitely going to start working on the second record come January/February and I know Carley’s going to do some other things musically. The plan is also to get back on the road during the summer, you know Warped Tour, some bigger stuff like that.
Cool. Carley, tell me a little about your other band.
Hope Kills Fear is a band I started to focus more on my spiritual beliefs. Its got catchy hooks, all rock, and were playing shows, talking to labels, and stuff like that. The good thing about it is there is a nice balance between Park Lane and that band, we’re kind of working out schedules from both sides, so I really feel I can do both projects and still give 100% to both. When I’m with Park Lane its all Park Lane business, when I’m with Hope Kills Fear, its Hope Kills Fear business and I’m even working on a new Candiria album with the guys, so when I’m not on tour with Fuel, me and Kenny are going to get together and work on that stuff as well as work on the new Park Lane album. I just love music and if it’s the musicians’ work that inspires me I can work pretty fast, and the guys in Park Lane definitely do a great job of that.
The current Park Lane album consists of songs that were already written by the band with you laying down vocals on top. Will you be more of an active participant in the next album?
Yea definitely. Actually one of the songs on this album, Letters from the Fire, is a song I brought to the band that I wrote in Logic Pro, they pretty much interpreted it and did their thing and now its on the album. Its nice to know that even though I’m the vocalist, these guys trust me when it comes to writing, and that’s the great thing about being in Park Lane, there’s no one writer, they’re very open-minded and its really awesome, its very democratic, and Mike can tell you more about the writing process and why I joined the band
Mike: With music, you want to hear different perspectives of people in the band and when one person writes, you get one sound, and we never really wanted that, so everybody writes, everybody gets a piece of it, and you know we love having Carley here, we have someone to write for us and its really been an awesome experience writing with him.