Making Waves with Coast Modern

By: Joseph Longo

By July, the "Songs of Summer" reach their peak. No longer are these effortlessly cool jam, well, effortlessly cool. The euphoric beats and sing-along lyrics agitate with each new radio station and television commercial saturating the once free-flowing tunes. It's a trap many bands fall in to with seasonal smash hits. Everything from the Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" to The Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition."

And then there are the bands that market off of a "summertime" designation. Katy Perry expanded the buzz of 2010's "California Girls" with a late-August release of her accompanying album, "Teenage Dream." Vampire Weekend flipped expectations for their yacht-club cool with a distinctly all-around heavier third album, "Modern Vampires of the City." Perry embraced while Vampire Weekend disassociated. It doesn't always work, but the smart artists know how to break past the simplistic characterization. 

But, there's a third type. Bands like Coast Modern. West Coast natives Coleman Trapp and Luke Atlas both embrace and disassociate from their pop-rock. The duo juxtaposes. Somber lyrics overlay cool synths and breezy beats. It's an all-encompassing sound. A thinker, of sorts. Ultimately, only the best bands allure listeners to attentiveness. 

Hooligan Magazine chatted with Coast Modern before their Milwaukee Summerfest set on July 8. Read on as the up-and-comers discuss their complex sound, love of reading and Twitter's "little nuggets."


Coast Modern is often described as having a distinctly West Coast vibe. Do you think that’s a fitting description?

Coleman Trapp: It’s totally fitting. It’s where we’re from; it’s where the music is born. Having that kind of chill fun, summery vibe is something that comes easy for us. It’s not all we can do or plan on doing.

Luke Atlas: Ya, it’s not really planned out to be West Coast, but it’s inevitable. Being from there, it feels like it’s always summer. I guess it seeps in but not intentionally.

In recent interviews, you've mentioned your music is unplanned. You don’t go in with an end goal. What do you find in going freeform?

A: I think there’s room to surprise ourselves. If we knew what we were going for, we wouldn’t probably be able to hit that. But if you’re just digging around and you stumble on something you don’t really know where it came from, you’re like, “This is actually amazing." Later, you can look back like: “How did I write that? I have no conscious understanding of where that came from.”

Do you feel a pressure to have your own distinct sound and separate yourself?

T: Definitely not. Maybe at one point early on when we were learning our craft. Now, our sound comes from just being open, taking our time and having fun.

A: Trusting that what is exciting to us will be exciting for other people. That’s really the only thing on our minds. We don’t really pay attention to what’s going on too much.

T: Ya, it is refreshing. It takes the pressure off.

Did you intentionally try to mix the light and dark?

T: It’s built in. We explore both of those things. Especially reading, sharing philosophy and just thinking deeply about existence in general. If you were going to try to write a song without darkness, it wouldn’t be realistic. It wouldn’t be true.

A: It’s a nice package for things “deeper.” Things were thinking about, so it’s not super overwhelming. It comes in a shiny boat.

Where do you find inspiration, both from other artists and just out in the world?

A: Oh man.

T: We read a lot. Love reading.

A: Ya, reading is important. I like just exploring in nature. Taking time away from people and expectations. Oftentimes we’ll just be chatting too. And these are things we’re running in to, thinking about or stuff we read somewhere. We have that in our heads, and when we write a song, it just kind of works its way in.

You have a big social media presence in more than just a, “Here’s our music." Why take a more active approach?

A: It’s just fun for us. It’s like a new thing. I’ve been so surprised by how funny and cool everyone is. It just seems natural. I think part of what we want is a more direct, personal feeling with fans.

T: Social media is great for connecting. That’s why playing live is even fun, because you get to actually meet people. Social media is a little taste of that when you’re not on the road.

A: It’s important to realize where this music is going and who is it reaching. I love seeing where it’s traveling to.

Do you have a favorite platform?

A: I like twitter a lot, because it’s instant.

T: Little nuggets.

A: You can kind of say whatever. Can be random, or can be real.