by Ryan Haughey
Hot and ready to release their new EP Coral Island is Merin, a band of friendly minstrels that play the saddest song in the happiest of keys. Cole, Jordan, Kathryn, and Joel make up the team that has been playing a live show every month for the past two years. Coral Island is the second EP from Merin and it comes out on May 24th at their release show at The Good Will Social Club. Today we are happy to share the new video for the title track “Coral Island” check it out underneath this interview.
Cole: This EP is our first time releasing an album that we all worked on together- we wrote it together and recorded together. It’s pretty sad.
Kathryn: But it doesn’t sound sad! I think that’s the beauty of Merin. That’s a lot of Cole’s song-writing and lyrics. We’re a fun band on the outside but we’re dark and twisted on the inside.
Jordan: It was really nice working on this together. I think for all of us this is the first thing in a long time that was done as a collaborative effort with a bunch of other musicians – which was fun because we’ve all been in different projects and worked on this and that, but for me this was the first thing I’ve worked on in my musical career that was truly four people pulling their weight equally and really contributing. It felt really cohesive because of that.
The band recorded their EP at Collector Studios with J Riley Hill, a local producer and engineer.
Kathryn: All of us don’t really like to sound very polished. A lot of the music we like is not very polished, and I think Riley was super down with that kind of thing.
Joel: He really understands bands’ intentions.
Cole: He let it feel really natural. It felt and sounded like it was us. Also he’s just a great person.
Jordan: He took songs that were pretty much done and didn’t do much else than make them sound really good. They went from finished, fully realized songs to an even better version of that. His attention to what we wanted really shone through.
Cole: This is a Google review for J Riley Hill. Five Stars.
Merin’s previous release, Space Camp EP was recorded by Cole alone and with minimal equipment. Cole wrote the songs as he recorded them, starting a recording without knowing how the songs would end. Space Camp EP was emotionally moving and well made, but Coral Island brings on the rest of the band to add full instrumentation to the beauty.
Cole: I get frustrated and give up when I’m recording myself and so things end up being really simple by necessity, whereas everybody in the band is a really awesome musician and the things we all hear in our heads, everybody can play. I think songs have gone in completely different directions from what they would’ve sounded like if it had just been me alone. All of our instincts are slightly different, and that leads to things that are new and exciting.
Kathryn: I always thought that collaborative writing would end up producing a mediocre product because everyone’s ideas would be too varied and it would just kind of meld into the middle, but Merin seems to have somehow escaped that. Cole mostly writes the songs, but when we bring it all together I don’t feel like it’s ever compromised.
Jordan: There’s never been any big power struggles where somebody has an idea and we don’t like it so we won’t do that idea, because we don’t do anything unless we all agree on it, and we tend to agree on most everything.
Cole: I don’t agree with that. Really what the vibe is in our band, I’m like Billy Corgan and I’m like f**k you guys.
Joel: We all agree because if we don’t he gets really angry.
Cole: I’m a monster.
The group agrees that writing and recording the record brought out some of the best in each song. Certain parts, improvisations, and ad libs became the perfect addition for what the song needed.
Jordan: We’re not doing anything crazy or complicated, we’re just doing straightforward, good, simple, indie rock, and it comes together pretty quickly because we all have a pretty good ear for what a Merin song sounds like.
Cole says that his lyrics are mostly personal, and has tried to write story lyrics but they don’t seem to work for him. The themes in Coral Island follow a sombre tone lyrically.
Cole: I’ve had mental health struggles throughout the years, and some of these songs are written on and off usually when I’m feeling bad. So a lot of them are kind of a distillation of those feelings and trying to communicate them as best I can because I don’t talk about that stuff a lot. That’s so cliché, but it’s easier to write about stuff than talk about it.
We have goofy stage banter and we all have a lot of fun and the music is fun, it kind of puts that barrier up where it doesn’t feel super personal even though I guess it is in a way.
Jordan: Another vein of the theme in this album is that we’ve really honed in on a particular way of writing songs, and the looseness of that came through in how it all came together. You can feel all of these songs being just us hanging out and having a good time too. It’s just really cool to be in a band with three of your closest friends.
Cole: I feel like there’s some rays of sunlight that poke through the clouds on the album.
Before releasing Coral Island, Merin is going on their first tour. They’ll be playing 12 dates on the road, ending with their release show in Winnipeg on May 24th.
Jordan: We’re really excited about our hometown show, it’s got a really great lineup. We’re playing at The Good Will, we’ll have cassettes of the EP for sale, T-shirts…
Cole: And stickers! Those are free.
Jordan: And we’ll be fresh off a tour for the very first time. So we’re very excited to have all of this stuff happening.