Photo: Courtney Coles
By Connor Atkinson
Published Aug 07, 2018While the Vans Warped Tour circles the continent for a final time, it was the 2016 instalment of the festival that fostered the relationship that came to be Coarse — the new metalcore project of Ryan Knowles (Capsize) and Brandon Gallagher (Old Wounds). That partnership has now resulted in their debut EP, I.
Gallagher depicts Warped Tour as "fairly miserable" but it ultimately led Coarse to be "fuelled by the uninspired."
"Toward the end of my time in Old Wounds, we were playing shows with bands that lacked creativity and desire to do something outside the box. I was inspired to do something that wasn't sugar-coated," Gallagher tells Exclaim! by Skype from New York City. "It felt like Old Wounds and Capsize were some of the only bands driving themselves in a van and trailer. We parked next to each other every day. They would put us so far away from the venue. It was the first time I'd suffered heat exhaustion."
Chiming in from Oregon, Knowles explains that he came to know Gallagher through watching "every single Old Wounds set on the tour."
"You know when you truly appreciate someone's craft?" Knowles asks rhetorically. "He hit the fuck out of his snare every time.
"Warped Tour was not a positive experience," Knowles continues. "It was one of the first times where I doubted everything about music. I was over it. It was a rough fucking summer. It's insane the amount of bands that won't even get their own fucking meals. They'll pay someone to get their food every day to avoid the catering line. You'll see the Maine, Every Time I Die and Mayday Parade selling CDs to fans and waiting in line for dinner, but you won't see half of the bands on the tour until they're onstage. They'll just sit in their bus high as a fucking kite because they're too cool to go outside."
Gallagher describes his current career in the fashion industry in a similar tone. "A lot of people that work in fashion are terrible human beings. If you want to be able to create comfortably, you have to climb the ranks a little bit," he says. "I was influenced by working on these super artistic Vogue shoots with fashions I can't even comprehend, but the people behind it are just awful, evil Cruella de Vil types."
"I was in the same position — creating a lot — but wasn't on the same page as everyone in Capsize," Knowles adds. "Brandon hit me up because he knew I had a creative void. I agreed to roll with it on the condition that it was only going to be the two of us."
The musical charisma between them is what Knowles outlines as "organized chaos." He grew up on the noisy, early 2000s metalcore of Converge and Norma Jean, while Gallagher leaned towards the hectic works of Some Girls and the Locust.
"I had to revisit a lot of Botch and Fear Before the March of Flames," Knowles explains. "But the only other influence outside of writing sick riffs is Bud Light Lime and weed."
The two have an admitted "obsession" with the beverage, which fuelled most of Coarse's writing sessions last summer.
Knowles suggested flying from his then-girlfriend's home in Toronto to Brooklyn to meet with Gallagher and write an EP. He packed his guitar, pedals and interface for the trip.
"Since we're on opposite coasts, we could have ended up hating each other," Knowles says. "There was no way to know how it would end up, but it was a super awesome week."
As a result of that coastal divide, a halt got put on the project. Knowles tracked the guitar and bass for I at Glow in the Dark Studios in Atlanta, while Gallagher's vocal and drum parts were tracked in Brooklyn with the demo guitars they recorded in their initial writing sessions. Finally, Knowles' screams were put to tape in San Diego.
"I think we know now to not take the most ridiculous route to get songs done," Gallagher states. "I'm sure we'll end up doing a lot of it ourselves this time around to avoid sitting on it for longer than we have to."
"It was very sporadic. It literally makes no sense why it happened that way, which is kind of how the songs are too," Knowles says.
The end result, I, is a frantic and informed serving of metalcore, coming out as Code Orange, Vein and Harm's Way lead the heavy music pack with deeply textured and industrial-tinged hardcore.
Knowles also guarantees that Coarse will play shows this year, and have a full-length record out in 2019. "We're definitely trying to use this band as an excuse to go vacation, but we won't be touring full-time."
If one thing is for certain though, it is Knowles' and Gallagher's bond.
"Ryan's ability to write is unlike any other. He innovates off ideas and concepts so well. If we wrote that EP in one week and came out with this, I can only imagine what an LP will be like," Gallagher says.
"And just look at that jawline, man," Knowles adds.
I is out now Zegema Beach Records.