The ‘live in the studio’ video is a relatively recent development, but a welcome one. Despite advances in cameraphone technology, fan-shot footage of bands performing will inevitably be plagued with shaky visuals and farty sound, with the clearest audio recording being of the punter stood beside the phone singing spectacularly out of tune. Setting up in a studio solves many of these problems, with the compromise being that the performance may not be as kinetic as it is in a normal gig setting.
Swiss quartet Coilguns have built a solid reputation for wild and sometimes dangerous performances, with frontman Louis Jucker using their sets as an opportunity to explore every square inch of stage and venue alike. There is plenty of the more conventional footage available elsewhere to document this fact, but this short set – recorded on multiple cameras in a room in Belfast whilst the band was on tour earlier this year – gives some insights into the more unconventional aspects of the Coilguns approach, whilst rooting Louis to the spot with his headphone cable. Head on below for your own peek into this room, packed with musical energy.
Coming to life as a side-project offshoot of The Ocean in around 2012, it took on a life of its own as the three core Coilguns members left the German collective, during the Pelagial touring cycle. In turn, Coilguns then sat at the centre of a prolific community of Swiss musicians, coming together in various permutations for various flavours of project, a number of which have been released on their own label Hummus Records (whose Bandcamp page is well worth exploring if you are feeling intrepid). After releasing a string of EPs and their 2013 debut album Commuters, Coilguns went into stasis for a while, finally emerging in late 2017 with a new fourth band member, and releasing their second album, Millennials, in early 2018.
At their core, Coilguns are a hardcore band, but that doesn’t really tell the whole story. Their experimental, jam-based approach brings in elements of sludge, post, math and outright noise to produce ominous, turbulent and cryptic tracks. This video has been recorded in a broadly similar fashion to their albums, live and in the moment, due to their strongly held beliefs in the power of spontaneity. The band put this philosophy into practice, and sequestered themselves away in a literal cabin in the woods to write and record Millennials. Their bass-less configuration led them to rely on splitting Jonah’s guitar signal across three separate rigs, including a bass cab, and then the employment of loop pedals resulted in the development of a thick, brooding, hypnotic sound. The most uncommonly deep connection between guitarist Jona Nido and drummer Luc Hess allows the song to twist, jerk and twitch in all manner of directions whilst the band remain absolutely locked in step together.
This video showcases four of the tracks from Millennials, including lead single “Anchorite” (which possibly contains the most portentous utterance of the word ‘pillow’ ever committed to tape) and the more straightforward blast of the album’s title track. As well as getting to see how Jona builds his looped layers at the very beginning, we are also given a better understanding of the contributions of new fourth member Donatien Thievent to the sound. He backs up Louis’ demented screams, and adds occasional synth lines, further filling out the bottom end in a manner surprisingly remeniscent of The Doors, albeit considerably more caustic. The sound is further filled out by Louis picking up a guitar, both on “Anchorite” and “Menieres”.
Ultimately, this twenty minute video serves as an excellent taster of what to expect from a Coilguns live show, and a window through which to gain a better understanding of precisely how they whip up their tempestuous sonic brew. Coilguns are, without doubt, one of the most exciting and interesting live bands on the circuit right now, and this video should whet appetites ahead of what we hope will be a busy 2019 of touring for the band.