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EXCLUSIVE: COMA REGALIA interview

Check out our in depth interview with Indiana’s screamo / post hardcore band COMA REGALIA. These guys are putting out their debut full length album “En Sperata” very soon. They are launching pre-orders and 24-hour stream on Halloween, so make sure to check it out. What’s important, don’t be fooled by the “debut” album and boldly expect epic madness and powerful sounding skramz. These wolves are no rookies. Dive into the interview below to find out what we’re talking about. 

The chat below should suit you just fine as Shawn Decker (1/2 of the band) told us A LOT about the real screamo, COMA REGALIA, the previous releases, their friends in other amazing bands, revealed some secret news ;) about the ORCHID tribute (!), their upcoming split with KADDISH (!) and tons more.

Hey, guys! So good to have you here. I really miss the old good screamo sounds [smiles]. How’s your local scene doing when it comes to “the real screamo” sounds? [smiles]

There are a lot of really good bands coming out in the midwest right now. Our favorite bands in the area are: VOWEL, ANTILLES, CITYCOP (OH), GAS UP YR HEARSE!!, LORD SNOW (IL), GEORGE COSTANZA,  THE REPTILIAN (MI), NATIVE, WOUNDED KNEE, MARITAL ROLES (IN), I feel like I’m forgetting a TON of bands in there but those are the first that come to mind right now.

Awesome. Quite normal names as for the genre [laughs]. Why do screamo bands usually choose weird names like LIZARDS HAVE PERSONALITIES, I WROTE HAIKUS ABOUT CANNIBALISM IN YOUR YEARBOOK and names like MIHAI EDRISCH, AMANDA WOODWARD, NEIL PERRY and so on? [laughs]

[laughs] Funny that you would mention those first two bands specifically as I WROTE HAIKUS ABOUT CANNIBALISM IN YOUR YEARBOOK played my house years ago and Andrew from LIZARDS HAVE PERSONALITIES is helping release our split 10″ with CAVALCADES and HEART ON MY SLEEVE. To answer honestly I would think that any of those bands are or were just looking for an intense combination of words that might suit the output of their music. I think that’s probably the goal of anyone that names a band for more than just to pick a name but in screamo/hardcore it seems more important because the messages behind the bands are usually very personal and sometimes have a really dire quality. That said, I would also like to thank you for taking the time to have us, something I would have done in response to your first question but it is 7am here and I am not really all that awake. [laughs]

[smiles] No problem, mate.

So why COMA REGALIA? What’s behind it?

You know, only one other person has asked about that. We started talking about what we wanted out of a band name and this theme kept popping up. I myself have been diagnosed with several mental and social disorders. It’s not something I talk about lightly and it took me a really long time to come to terms with what that meant for me as a person. What that said about me. There is a stigma that comes along with these terms that people don’t and might never understand. For a long time I felt myself pulled into that stigma myself. I thought that if these things about me were true then I would never be able to feel like a normal person. I lived my life for a long time feeling that way. I took prescriptions sometimes and sometimes I foolishly tried self medicating but all the while I can remember feeling like there was just this haze over my whole life.

I really can’t say that there is any one particular thing that snapped me out of that. I feel, to an extent, that I am still coming out of that every day. I think a lot more people live their lives this way than would care to admit it. It’s sad and I’m not trying to say that I am over these feelings completely. I don’t think anyone who has these kinds of problems ever is, but it’s a work in progress and in the right direction.

These are the things that played into naming our band. The feeling of living a numb and hazy life coupled with the possibility of there being some great thing waiting when you wake up out of it. Some grand thing that makes all of the aching worthwhile. Something to show for our silence.

Wow. Thanks for shedding some light on this.

Going back to screamo bands (still, sooorry [smiles]), why do screamo/skramz bands like splits so much? [smiles]

For me personally I always thought it was awesome when you buy a record for one of your favorite bands and flip it over and hear some other really incredible band that you might have never heard of otherwise. Of course now with avenues like Bandcamp hosting music for free combined with the rest of the internet blogging world it’s a lot more common for people to have heard both (or all) of the bands on a split release before they even buy it. I think that’s great but it does take away a little of that xmas morning surprise doesn’t it?

For us as a band, we’re quite fond of splits for lots of reasons. The main reasons are we love making music and we love making friends and that is one way for us to do both at the same time. When I think about all of the people that I have come to know in only just this last year alone I know that I have music to thank for that and I honestly know that my life is better by leaps and bounds for knowing them.

Great. So tell what splits have you released so far.

Our first split was with QUANTIS from Malaysia. They feature guys from UTARID and KIAS FANSURI. Arwith Utarid is one of my favorite dudes ever and I don’t think there will ever be a time I don’t mention that when asked [laughs]. Our second split is with a great (but disbanded) Canadian band called THE CATLIN ELM. The third with CAPACITIES from NJ that feature members from YOU AND I, THE SADDEST LANSCAPE, THE ASSISTANT and tons more. I have known Tom, the bassist for longer than I will say for fear of dating us too much and have been floored by every musical endeavor he’s been a part of. Our fourth split is with LAEIRS from Australia who really tear up that kind of JEROME’S DREAM vibe and our fifth is with VOWEL from OH who have a really nicely polished sound akin to earlier Equal Vision bands.

How about the new one with HEART ON MY SLEEVE and CAVALCADES? Tell us more how did you team up and what can we expect.

Awww. You did a post about that already! You’re the best [smiles] Hmm. As to what to expect, I can only really say… a great record? [laughs] We had talked before about having one song by each band on each side. I think that is the plan for now but you never can say until the songs are all recorded and put together, you know? I can tell you that as far as our songs go that the pieces that we have in mind are a little more on the technical side than some of our other stuff.

As to how it came about it is kind of funny. Some time back we were featured on a digital download comp with HEART ON MY SLEEVE and I was just blown away. I contacted them pretty much immediately asking if they would be interested in a split. We kept in touch and agreed to talk about it when they had some more material together and it almost happened when they released their 10″ but the timing wasn’t quite right. Earlier this year, I co released the CAVALCADES “Coping” 12″ with Dog Knights, Listen to Aylin, Farblos, Tief in Marcellos Schuld and became friends with the guys from that band…

One day a few months back on a facebook post I saw the Alan from CAVALCADES posting about how they’d love to do a split with HEART ON MY SLEEVE and I sort of butted in with a “we’ve got dibs” comment and just like that Kalle from HEART ON MY SLEEVE chimes in and it’s a 3 way split.

[smiles] Nice one. Ok, before we move on to your new album, tell us about your other releases put out thus far.

The only other release we have so far other than our splits is the “Mixed Manias & Sorrow Songs” cassette which was released in cooperation with Utarid Tapes. That was three songs we recorded at the same time as our split with QUANTIS that we didn’t have a home for and when Arwith said he would put it on tape, we jumped at the chance. He’s released so many crucial bands over the last 10 years it was just an honor to be among them. That, along with our split with QUANTIS are almost sold out.

Are cassette tapes making a comeback? How do you feel about this funny format and how do compare it to vinyl?

I think cassettes have certainly made quite a comeback. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that Utarid Tapes has had a LOT to do with that either. I think that the cost effectiveness of tape has been a huge factor. In addition to that a lot of bands and labels have taken to running off tapes themselves. I can think of one label alone that has knocked out over 30 some releases in the last year or so with only a tape duper and a (somewhat questionable at times) home color printer. As far as the format is concerned I personally love it and am glad to see it come back. I do a lot of the printing of the COMA REGALIA packaging down in my basement where I only have a cassette player. I printed our tape packaging on some cardboard from work while listening to tapes down there actually…

I can’t really compare it to vinyl though. The thing I love about vinyl and maybe perhaps 7″ specifically is that the format demands your attention. Not just in physical appearance either. When you put on a record, you only have so much time to listen before you have to flip it. It seems like a very intimate thing to me. The way I handle a record, like it’s going to break if I hold it wrong. Like my baby [laughs]. It makes me feel sentimental. I also feel like you don’t have the time between sides to get distracted by things like you might when you listen by other means. Ipods and other devices are great but they remove the physical aspect of music to a large degree and that’s something I am quite fond of.

So what formats did you pick up for your debut full length album coming up very soon? Tell us more about this release.

 The record is entitled “En Sperata” and it will be available exclusively on 12″ vinyl as far as physical versions go. Originally we intended to release it on CD until we could get the funds together to release it on vinyl but then as we put the word out Listen to Aylin, Pure Heart, and later How Soon Is Now Records all offered to be a part of it and it all came together from there. I couldn’t be happier with the record as a whole and the people who are involved. I either have been for a while or have come to be great friends with all the folks at these labels and with what this record means to us, we couldn’t do it any other way.

As far as what the record is and what it means to us… we are really still trying to figure out how much we are willing to give up. I’m not saying, how much we are willing to tell you specifically or even how much we’re willing to say right now… just generally how much we will spill about it ever. I feel like… well, I know that I am not a good liar and it is certainly not something that I do often so I feel really weird saying this but if we ever do tell outright what the album means in it’s entirety it will be because someone asked all the right questions and there was no way around it [laughs]. This is honestly something we just discussed last weekend. The questions between us were “What would you say?” “How much would you tell?” and that kind of thing.

What I will say is that the album is 10 songs in 21 minutes and 54 seconds. The title and the names of the songs are all words that I “made up” that mean specific things to me. I put “made up” in quotations because if you look the titles up you might find some weird things but that’s not where I got the words from. The pressing info is 100 on black vinyl, 200 on mixed, split color vinyl and 200 on “coke bottle clear” vinyl. All the covers are hand cut and printed and a couple of the labels will have specialized inserts. Some people will want to call it a concept album but I don’t like that term even if it might apply. I would tell people the album is a metaphor. Yeah, I’m happy with that.

What about the artwork for this album? Does it reflect the meaning of the lyrics?

It really does. Not necessarily stylistically, but in content. What I wanted was a series of simple drawings that tell a story. When you look at the cover of the album, it might not be clear what it is, but you actually fold the cover outward and there are more panels and maybe then you see what the cover starts to mean. You fold it out even more and there are more panels, maybe out of sequence but they all tell part of the story. The last part of the process is printed on the back of the album itself and there is a little bit of it on the center label of the vinyl. I’m pretty nervous to print on the vinyl itself but I am really excited about it too.

The lyrics will also have pieces of artwork that go with each song. This sort of ties this record together, but this record is only part of it. We kind of agreed that that’s as much as we would say. Lyrically I think that the neat thing is, you don’t have to “get” anything to find something in the lyrics to connect to. At least I hope that’s the case.

Great, that’s probably a bigger chance “not-speakin’-English” kids will understand you [laughs].

Ok, about the distribution of your records… There are some many labels you’re working with [smiles]. What areas do they cover? What’s the farthest you’re putting it out physically? Any European distros you’re working with?

[laughs] I think it will be perfect! The labels that releasing it are from Norway (Listen To Aylin records), Czech Republic (Pure Heart Records) and the United States (Middle-Man Records, How Soon Is Now Records). Each label seems to have their own little avenues of release that will be great at getting it spread out. Through their and our other releases though we have come into friendship with many great distros and labels like Shove in Italy, Utarid in Malaysia, Dog Knights in UK, Tenzenman in AUS, A Mountain Far in CAN and lots of others in the US and overseas. As of right now, we haven’t made specific arrangements with them, I’m just saying those are my favorite, but hopefully you’ll be able to find it on their pages soon after release.  One place or another, it will be out there and easy to find.

How do you plan to celebrate and support “En Sperata”?

On Halloween we will begin pre orders of the record. Each label will have their own pre order packages and deals going on, I’m not sure what they all are but we will have them all linked on our facebook page so people can have a look at the different ones. We’re also streaming the record all day Halloween starting at midnight and ending at midnight. We are going to start a little countdown until then on our FB page for fun. It will have the lyrics and preview of the artwork up while that’s going on. After that time is up we’re still undecided about whether we will leave a song up for streaming or not. The record is pretty much meant to be listened to as a whole so I don’t really know that one piece sticks out that we would feel comfortable leaving up to represent the album.

As far as support goes, we are planning a 3 day trip right now out to play a really great show on the east coast in December… we just have to make sure we can get the days off work before we can confirm that. Also, we are going to do a handful of dates with CAPACITIES early-ish 2013 and we couldn’t be more excited about that. It kind of seems like quite a break from shows after releasing a full length but the truth is we are recording for 3 more releases at this very moment. I’m sure we will have some shows here and there but until the bit with CAPACITIES, no major plans.

Any chances to see you guys in Europe sometime soon?

That would be a dream come true, and I certainly would not rule it out, but there are no plans as of right now. We will have to see if we are in better financial shape come 2013 before we can start thinking about things like that.

What European band would you like to release a split with? [smiles]

Do you already know something? [laughs] Maybe you do. There is a split 7″ coming also sometime in March with a certain band that you may or may not have heard about already… I’m going to leave it at that. There is also talk of a split 10″ with a band that has only recently reformed but they are not from Europe. Who would YOU like to see us split with?

[laughs] Wow. What a pleasant surprise [smiles]. Unfortunately, I think there’s no way we could match. I’d choose of of my favourite European bands – SED NON SATIATA (who I recently interviewed). They’ve played some crazy shows in the US this Summer.

So? Come on, tell us [smiles].

You’re in luck! We are going to share some vinyl with SED NON SATIATA really soon on the ORCHID tribute comp 12″ that Dog Knights is releasing. I’m recording our track for that today, actually. As far as what band we’d like to do a split with I am kind of embarrassed to say that I have only just recently heard KADDISH. Is it too much to ask that we get to do a split with them? They are fantastic!

Oh man. That’s really awesome! So when’s this one coming out? [smiles]

There’s no release date just yet but there are a lot of great bands on that comp. Keep an eye on Dog Knights Productions pages for more info on that.

Alright. Do you have any cool zines you’d like to shout out to?

I used to be way into zines, I still have two huge boxes of them in my basement. I don’t know that many any more since their are so many blogs and ezines but the ones I do know I still like a lot. Razorcake is really cool, Chumpire, used to be really into MRR but I haven’t bought an issue in a while… I just found out that Ox Fanzine is still around. I remember when I was really young somehow I got a hold of one of their zines that had a CD with it. It was the first time I heard the band FUNERAL ORATION. So good.

Ok, Shawn. What else? What does the future hold for COMA REGALIA?

Well, 2012 was a pretty busy year for us. We kind of said we were going to chill a little bit in 2013 but we keep getting these opportunities that we just can’t pass up. Early 2013 we have the 3 way 10″ with CAVALCADES and HEART ON MY SLEEVE that was mentioned earlier. A split 7″ with one of our favorite German bands. A 4 way split 12″ with OAKEN, LOCKTENDER, WOUNDED KNEE, another tape and our second full length release which will be on double 7″ and will be titled “Ours is the Cause Most Noble”. Other than that just playing out as much as possible and having a good time.

Sounds busy [smiles]. Thanks for the chat! I appreciate it very much. Best regards from Poland! [smiles]

Thanks so much for having us. It was fun! I really enjoy and appreciate what you’re doing. There are a lot of sites that just kind of report on the same 10 or 20 bands that most people in the “scene” already know about so I really love that you take the extra time to dig around for something like us that people aren’t really aware of! Thanks again!

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