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The Hot Sweat
Envy on the Coast
By Cristina Carrazza-- Regional Head, Midwest

After the successful release of their debut album “Lucy Gray” three years ago, Envy on the Coast is finally back for a second round. The Long Island quartet released their much anticipated sophomore effort, Lowcountry, at the end of March. The band is currently ending a nation wide tour with The Fall of Troy and Twin Atlantic. At the Chicago stop, we chatted with lead singer Ryan and bassist Jeremy.

Cristina: To start things off introduce yourselves
Jeremy: I’m Jeremy and I play bass for Envy on The Coast
Ryan: I’m Ryan and I sing and play guitar.

CC: First stereotypical question, how would you describe Envy on The Coast?
RH: I would describe it by saying go online and listen to our music, because it doesn’t take that much time. If you give us 30 seconds it would make us very happy.
JV: That’s tough. It’s like the same question as who do we think we sound like. It’s kind of tough.
RH: We’re the last people to ask what we sound like. We’re going to be biased. We’re always going to tell you what we want to sound like. But we might not actually be close to that.

CC: What, then, are some of the influences that have formed the Envy sound? I know you guys are from Long Island, which has a very prominent music scene…
JV: Yeah, being from there we grew up on stuff like Glassjaw. But apart from that Ryan and I are particularly very huge Hip Hop fans, Wu-Tang
RH: Soul
JV: And everyone’s got that in the band. Everyone likes soul, and something we can groove to. But we also love rock music.
CC: Yes Envy seems to have a little bit of that aggressiveness in its sound
JV: We’re no average white guys.

CC: Your sophomore album, Lowcountry, was just released within the last couple of weeks. How does it compare to Lucy Gray, your debut?
RH: There is no comparison in the sense that everything about it is different. The way we made it is different. The places we were in our lives wouldn’t let us make the same record twice. As far as saying what particularly was different, I know on the first record everyone was trying to prove themselves. There was a lot of stuff going on on top of each other, while there may be cool parts nothing got the opportunity to really speak. This is mainly what we wanted to do with the second record. We wanted to really vibe from one another and listen to one another more than just playing. More than playing your instrument, it’s a matter of listening and finding your voice. That’s kind of the way we did it with this record.
CC: I know you, Ryan played drums on this record which is a difference from Lucy Gray.
JV: Yeah, one of the biggest differences on this record is that there were four of us. Ryan played drums as you said. We were living on Venice Beach right by the water. We were recording in Santa Monica. We were just influenced by our environment and the influences we all had out in Cali.
CC: Was most of the songwriting done out in California?
RH: We wrote for a while at home back in Long Island. But we did do a little bit of writing when we got to San Diego. We wrote about 90% of it at home. We thought we were just going to finish one tune in the studio but the vibe was so good that a few times we would just jam. So two songs were actually done exclusively in the studio. This is the first time we’ve ever really done that.
CC: After the whole Lucy Gray cycle was over, you guys disappeared for a while. You were pretty much on the road for all of 2007 and 2008. Did you spend most of the time focusing on this album or just taking time off?
RH: A little bit of both.
JV: A much needed break. When we got signed, we were on the road for three years straight. We were able to come home, spend some time with our family and friends. We just needed to take some time and sort some things out.
CC: Can we see a little bit of that in Lowcountry? A little bit of taking time to rewind and reevaluate?
RH: Absolutely. I think going home was definitely a conscious decision on our part. With Lucy Gray, we came off the road and just went to straight to writing. I feel bad for the people who buy into the whole you gotta keep going. We were home for a while, and there were some people who may have forgotten about us. But I feel that if you write good music, people will remember who you are and still look out for your band. It was good for us to make sure the record was exactly what we wanted it to be and just not rush through it and get back on the road. We can’t support something for two years that we’re not happy with.

CC: I want to talk a bit about Envy’s songwriting, specially the lyrics. I know on Lucy Gray, you guys sent very powerful messages through some of your songs such as “Artist and Repertoire.” One of the first things I did when I listened to Lowcountry for the first time was pay attention to the lyrics and you’ve done it again with songs like “The Great American T-Shirt Racket.”  I feel like that, for me, is one of the things that really characterizes Envy’s music so what do you hope to convey to your audience through your songs?
RH: You said it yourself perfectly. You saw something, or heard something. We’ll let the songs speak for themselves. I feel like we put enough of ourselves in this record that I’d rather let it speak for itself. There’s a message there; people can take anything they want from it. The way I did it is I just sat down with a notebook and let my hand move. There was nothing conscious about it. Whenever I felt the desire to pick up a pen I would pick it up and whatever hit the page hit the page. I never had the opportunity to listen to the music we were making while writing. But because I was playing drums on this record, I was forced to do things a new way. It was really great. I would let the music hit me and it would cause me to say different things.
JV: For “Laugh Ourselves To Death” in particular I remember we were in California and whenever we would finish tracking something Ryan would sit down and write down what came to him.

CC: How has been the reaction to Lowcountry so far?
JV: It’s been really positive. So far, we try to not read reviews but what we’ve seen is really positive.
CC: I know you guys released some tracks in advance this time around…
JV: Yeah just to hype it up a bit. We also had a stream on myspace. People are digging it. The crowd responses have been unbelievable.

CC: You guys are currently on tour with The Fall of Troy and Twin Atlantic. How has it been going so far? I know this is the first time you guys have really gone out since you took a break.
JV: It’s definitely different after being home for so long. When we went back on the road it’s like we were trying to figure it out again. But it’s good. The bands are dope and we’re getting along really well. It’s coming to the end of the tour now and I feel like everyone’s a little burnt.
RH: I’m just finally starting to find my groove in the set. The past couple of shows have been some of the most fun. I’m hoping that it stays that way. I personally feel we’re playing some of the best shows of the tour now. 
JV: it also has to do with getting closer to the East coast, ya know. But musically, it’s getting tighter for sure. I was talking about adapting to tour life after being home for so long.

CC: So what are some future plans for Envy?
RH: We have Skate Fest on May 8th. TREOS (The Receiving End of Sirens) is getting back together for that so we’re super excited for that. After that we’ll be on some tour, we don’t know which one yet, but we’ll be playing as much of Lowcountry as we can.

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