It’s been six years since beloved Long Island post-hardcore outfit Envy On The Coast shambled to an end, but with Tuesday’s announcement of three reunion shows, it appears their long-waiting legion of die-hard fans will be sated once again. We caught up with vocalist Ryan Hunter and guitarist Brian Byrne to get the inside scoop on the band’s “reincarnation.”
Editor’s note: Earlier today, former Envy On The Coast members Jeremy Velardi, Sal Bossio and Dan Gluszak posted a message on Facebook announcing that they would not be a part of these reunion shows. You can read their statement, along with a statement from Hunter and Byrne, at the end of this post.
The two of you played a pair of Envy On The Coast songs (“Like I Do” and “The Gift Of Paralysis”) together during the encore of a 1st Vows show in New York in April. That was the first time you had played Envy songs together in six years. How did that come about?
RYAN HUNTER: We tried to get a reunion going about a year ago. Those conversations happened, and then they sat for a while. Brian and I really wanted to do it but it just didn’t seem like it was going to facilitate. [The New York show] seemed like an opportune place to test the waters. This is a sensitive thing—this band was the sum of its parts, but at one time Dan [Gluszak, drums] was asked to leave, and then Sal [Bossio, guitar] and Jer [Velardi, bass] left the band, so it was Brian and I left with the decision to keep going or not. We felt like we were in that place again, so we thought, let’s give this to the fans and see how it goes.
BRIAN BYRNE: It was important that we were able to do that in such a small environment because these fans follow my and Ryan’s career, they follow the individual members and what they’re doing, these are the people that have been around us and with us for the majority of Envy’s career. Those are the people that we really give a shit about what they have to say. And it was something they were all really positive about—the reaction was palpable. So that gave us the little push we needed to make the decision to move forward.
You tested the waters; it went well. You’ve announced three shows so far. How active do you envision Envy On The Coast being going forward?
BYRNE: We’re still trying to figure it out on our end. There’s some logistical stuff we have to take into consideration. I think that, as far as touring situations go, it hinges on how these shows go and how they feel. I have a really good feeling that they’re going to be a lot of fun, so obviously we’re going to want to continue that. As far as recording goes, mum is the word.
HUNTER: This is all stuff we were slowly going to unveil. That was our plan. Now we feel obligated to put things on the table. What it boils down to is, one of the main differences that split things between us is the fact that [Brian and I] are open to all of it. We’re just itching to play these songs again. And we have stuff we’re sitting on, as well. We have music. We just want it to be easy and fun and simple. That was one of the dividing factors: who was willing to do what. Who was onboard, and in what capacity.
And the two of you are onboard in every capacity?
BOTH: Yeah, pretty much!
HUNTER: What is paramount to me is giving people what they want to hear. I’ll be completely honest in saying that I’ve been so out of the loop, I called a friend of mine and asked her, “What songs do kids need to hear?” I don’t want to go up there and play the stuff that strictly Brian and I got off on. We want to give kids what they want, and we don’t want anything coming between that. We went so far as sitting down and coming up with setlists that specifically cater towards people getting what they want to hear from us. That’s what was most important to us. And when we started to feel that things were going to get in the way of that…
BYRNE: … All the conversations fell apart. It left a really bad taste in our mouths, because it was something I felt we were really close to and then it got squashed. This whole situation has been discussed at length for at least a year and a half. We scoured and did our due diligence to find guys that were capable.
So who are those capable guys? Who is a part of Envy On The Coast right now, and who will be playing with you?
HUNTER: Envy On The Coast is Brian and I. Gray Robertson will be playing bass. I’ve been playing music with Gray for a few years now. Playing drums will be Doug Rogells. Doug was brought in after Dan was asked to leave, he was our touring drummer on Lowcountry, and he is a beast. The last guy is someone Brian knows from years ago from being at Berklee College Of Music, his name is Dan Ellis. Sal’s skill set was super-particular as far as what he brought to the table, and it was very important to us to make sure that was honored. We needed somebody who could play keys, guitar and have his vocal range. Dan’s got it all.
You’ve clearly been contemplating this for quite a while. Why is now the right time to actually do it?
HUNTER: The reason we decided not to keep going with Envy in the first place is that Brian and I wanted to do different things creatively. If you listen to our respective projects, they’re very different from Envy—it’s where our hearts took us. They do things for us that Envy didn’t. But we had this itch we couldn’t scratch. When we played those two songs for the encore, I really had no idea what to expect emotionally, and I didn’t consider that, honestly. I was so hung up on seeing how the fans were going to receive it that I didn’t anticipate it. But even just being in the practice space alone and doing those songs, it was like, “Holy shit, I missed this!“ This does something that none of my projects in the past six years do, and I really want to do it again. I want to have that in my life, as well.
Brian and I have been writing music together since forever. We tend to just write stuff and see where it goes. We were sitting on this batch of songs that didn’t really belong with [follow-up project] NK, they didn’t belong in Brian’s project or in my solo project, so they just sat. And upon revisiting them, we realized that they were Envy On The Coast songs. The way of thinking; how we wrote, with my sitting behind the drums and then Brian coming in; us collaborating lyrically. These are Envy On The Coast songs.
Ultimately, what is it that defines Envy On The Coast to the two of you? Is it the songs you write together? A particular musical vibe? The connection between you?
Hunter: I first want to first say that I miss playing music with Sal, Jer and Dan, and I wish I could be doing that again, but we’ve all moved on to different things in our lives. In the conversations I’ve had with Sal, I feel he’s finally in a creative place with Heavy English where he’s doing what he’s been trying to do for a long time. In the context of Envy On The Coast, he always had trouble asserting himself. We always split everything, we always wanted it to be collaborative, but it doesn’t always work out that way. It’s difficult to get five people to be on the same page. The one consistent element throughout has been the marriage of my thing and Brian’s thing. I think that’s evident in where we ended up with Lowcountry—the name of the record, the entire aesthetic, that’s all Brian. It’s always been that dynamic between the two of us that drove thing. That’s the reality of the creative process of the band. ALT
From Jeremy Velardi, Sal Bossio, Dan Gluszak:
From Brian Byrne and Ryan Hunter:
We'd like to follow up on the message Sal sent out personally, which we made sure was posted with this so everyone could read. We wanted to be sure all of you heard his side as well as ours. We’d like to provide clarification regarding the upcoming shows in August. First and foremost we are sorry if we accidentally misled any of you. That certainly was not our intention. We had a whole rollout planned unveiling the news in the next day or so, but it’s now necessary for us to put it all out there.
When Sal and Jer walked away from this six years ago, we decided to end the project. Sal, Jer, and Dan are incredibly talented musicians, and we miss playing music with all three of them. That’s why we initially sought them out to do a reunion in the first place. We have been attempting to pull it together for a long time now, and unfortunately, we’re just not on the same page. Our belief is that if we’re going to get back up there, we want to be able to play all of the songs and give the fans everything they’ve waited to hear for six years without holding back. We want to fully give ourselves to this again.
After we realized a reunion wasn’t going to happen, we entertained the idea of revamping the project as a whole. So, we spent a year making sure we could bring in musicians who would exceed our expectations and inspire us.
Back in early May, we played a show at Webster Hall under Ryan’s project 1st Vows. We encored with two EOTC songs. We spoke directly with fans, telling them a reunion would likely never happen, but would they be into hearing us revamp the project as a whole. We posted a video of us playing the encore and accompanied it with, “We’ve tried to get this together with the five original members, but for many reasons, it just doesn’t seem that’s going to happen in the near future,” followed by “this is the best we can do for now. If this is something you’d like to see happen, we’re listening” and signed it from Ryan and Brian. The response was incredible.
We fully understand some of you may not want to come to the shows. We are sorry we disappointed you and you will be missed.
We want to play these songs again. All of the songs. We want to play shows, and not just three nostalgic nights of music, but to open this book again for the people all over the world who never got to hear these songs live. We want to share new music with you. No, this is not a reunion, but a reincarnation, and we’ve spent the last year making sure it’ll blow people away.
– Brian Byrne and Ryan Hunter