I. Am. Bummed.
For those who missed the announcement earlier this week, Envy On The Coast have decided to break up. I'd like to know who gave them permission. But seriously, I am already missing this band. They've been inside the pages of AP ever since early 2006, when I first profiled them in our AP&R section. It was so exciting to watch this young band develop and find themselves over the next few years, from blowing me away at the 2006 Bamboozle (while still unsigned!) to opening the first-ever AP Tour in 2007 (I like to think that had that tour not happened, Anthony Green never would've ended up singing on EOTC's "The Gift Of Paralysis") to gradually winning favor with discerning music fans nationwide through an absolutely relentless touring schedule.
Envy On The Coast playing AP's SXSW party at Emo's Jr., March 17, 2007. Photo credit: Yours truly
Now, while I was in a handful of bands throughout high school and college, I've never been lucky enough to be in one that had its shit together enough to really hit the road and stay out there. I have been able to go on tour for a few weeks at a time, but it's always been in a bus and I imagine it's never been anywhere near as stressful as it must be for a young, hungry band trying to prove themselves. So I don't know what Envy On The Coast had to go through night in and night out; all I know is that every time I saw them, they killed it, no questions asked.
EOTC playing "Paperback" at the Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, on Sept. 9, 2007. Video credit: You're lookin' at him
Through my interactions with Envy, it was easy to see that they were incredibly driven, nearly to a fault. The afternoon before the above video was shot, we had the band come by APHQ to record an acoustic session for our website (something I really hope we start back up again—hopefully my boss is reading this!). Now, I hosted nearly all of the AP acoustic sessions (I believe we did over 50, although I lost count long ago), and most were pretty quick affairs, with bands coming in, knocking out a few tracks live and being back out again, usually in under an hour. Occasionally, we would have a band who had absolutely no idea how to translate their songs into an acoustic setting (or just had no idea how to play their songs in general), and we'd end up with multi-hour sessions, with take after take of subpar material. Envy were different: Their session went on significantly longer than I expected (I want to say it pushed 3-4 hours), but it wasn't because the band were sloppy or lazy; it was because they wanted to get it right. The band were total perfectionists, and were hellbent on including live drums in their session (something usually left out for acoustic sessions). It stands out in my mind as one of my favorite sessions I got to sit in on, because I watched five headstrong kids gently push and shove for a few hours to make sure the arrangements were just right. And if something was off in the last measure of a take? Scrap it and start over.
I'm probably not supposed to share these recordings with you, but you know what? Fuck it. Check 'em out below:
I should note that this session, like virtually all AP Acoustic Sessions (as well as nearly the entirety of the now-defunct AP Show as well as the AP Podcast and AP&R Podcast series), was recorded at Lava Room Recording Studio by the incredibly talented John Walsh.
When I spoke to Envy frontman Ryan Hunter back in October 2008 for our annual Most Anticipated Albums special, he talked my ear off for nearly an hour-and-a-half about all the trials and tribulations he and the band had been going through trying to write new material. "I have a feeling that every time we write a record, this band are going to break up three to five times," he told me. His remark was in jest, but there was more than just a kernel of truth to it: While Envy might have struggled to figure out what they wanted out of themselves and their band, they always seemed to know what they didn't want to do, making their uphill struggle steeper and steeper with each lack of compromise. To paraphrase Hunter in "The Gift Of Paralysis," I imagine the band felt like they were throwing punches at ocean waves frequently—fighting a nearly unwinnable battle of good taste. I, for one, will miss Envy On The Coast dearly. I don't think I'm alone.
With all of that said, I am extremely excited to see where these guys end up and what new music they'll end up creating. Their uncompromising attitude towards their art lets me know that no matter what comes next, I'm damn near guaranteed to enjoy it.
Envy On The Coast's signatures on our office's band-autograph wall. I love you too, guys.