Bay Area natives Constant Coogan are a new name within the music industry, and one that has a little bit of everything. There are hints of rock, pop, and theatrics all tied into one neat package that is Bury Me Alive, the group's debut EP. I recently got to speak with the band's vocalist and one of the driving forces behind Bury Me Alive, Jen Coogan. We chatted about her experiences working on Broadway musicals, the writing process behind the EP, and much more.
From everything that I've listened to on the EP, I was curious to know how you were able to apply the experiences of performing in Broadway productions like Rent and Phantom of the Opera and in the choir with Barbara Streisand to writing tracks for the Constant Coogan EP?
Theater, in general, has really influenced my life as a whole. It's kind of made me who I am as a person. A lot of Bury Me Alive is about overcoming shyness and social anxiety. The theater is somewhere that really helped heal me with the process. It's obviously an ongoing process, but it's such a welcoming place. There's so much love and so little judgement there. I feel like all of that love and acceptance was able to be transmitted to my lyrics. I feel like, overall, it's given me a lot of hope about life. We put a lot of that into this EP as well.
Being in theater is pretty disciplined as well. You have to be really strict about learning your parts and having team work and good communication. Most of all, you're spending time rehearsing and going over things. I also think that performing in front of a crowd and having a character to hide behind has helped a lot with the performing aspect of being in this band, and us wanting to put on just as great of a show as possible for our audiences.
I can attest to that. I was in the orchestra for a musical once and I literally developed a second family from doing it, even though I wasn't in the cast. It's awesome you could apply that to tracks like this.
We love having the families that we've been able to acquire through all of the different shows with people. We just have so many memories of each show, and each show has a different group of people that we just love. The family grows every time, and it's awesome.
The title for the EP is called Bury Me Alive. When I hear it, it sounds like a very personal title. If I may ask, what inspired the title? Was there something in particular you may have been going through?
Well that title is definitely very personal to me. I've struggled with shyness my whole life. I've been in a lot of situations where you have things that you want to say to people, but for some reason there's something blocking the ability for you to get it out there. It's just so disheartening when you have so much to express and you can't find the strength to do it.
Going through that can really feel like you really feel like you're being buried alive. Just the pressure and loss; there's just no hope sometimes. I really wanted to express that with this song, and let other people that are struggling with shyness know that they've got to do something. We've all got this ability to break the cycle and strengthen our muscle that helps us to get stronger with the ability to communicate with other people. You've just gotta do it; otherwise, you're dying inside.
You recorded the EP with Mario Lichfield at Platinum Waves Studios near Sacramento. What did Mario bring to the table for you as a producer?
Well first of all, Mario is awesome. We were kind of on a pop [mindset]; with my solo project that I had worked on with him in the past, I was more pop and dance-driven. We have definitely gotten a little bit edgier since we've gotten our drummer, Ben. Our writing style has changed, and we've gotten a lot more rock and alternative. We were able to bring that to Mario. When we brought it to him, we didn't have a guitarist in our band. He's an amazing guitarist, so he was actually able to lay out all of the guitar tracks on our CD. That was just the glue that held everything together. We loved what he did so much that we had to go out and find a guitarist to just complete our project. He made it exactly what we wanted it to be!
Who's the guitarist that you have now?
His name is Ray Hidrogo. He's wonderful; he's played with The Eisley Brothers and has had numerous years of experience. He's also just fun to be around!
So let's step back: you're in the studio, you're working with Mario, you've got all this material and a newer direction. Were there any big challenges did you face? If any, how were you able to overcome that and put that into the final project?
Overall, I think that everything went pretty smoothly. I had originally had six songs that I wanted to record. There was one song in particular called "Get Together". We just couldn't...I don't know. There something about the chorus, so I just re-writing it and re-writing it and it just wasn't hitting the money spot for me.
I had this opera cover that I'd been working on for probably five years or so. It's a cover of "O Mio Babbino Caro". I kind of wanted to do rock remix of that. I talked to Mario, I was like, "Do you think that we could come up with something for this?" We collaborated and we worked on it, and we came up with this great cover that I think fits well with our CD. I'm happy that we made that decision to give up on the one song for a little bit. Maybe it will come back in the future! It was nice to thrown in this opera side of myself, too, because that's definitely a part of my upbringing.
It's great when you're able to find that balance between all of the different influences you have, no matter how far apart they might be. It's kind of a testament to the artist.
Yeah! I wanted to do something different, and it was definitely a bit of a risk. I don't know if opera purists will understand it necessarily, but it was just kind of a fun twist on the art and trying to mix it all in. Hopefully people will like it.
Last two questions. First, what kind of message, if you have one, would you like fans to walk away after listening to your music?
Well, I think most of all, I want people to have hope, and to know that it's an amazing life out there. They just have to apply themselves, keep pushing through the tough times and know that better times are around the corner.
Finally, what does music mean to you?
That's a really deep question. Music is everything to me. It's the first thing that I think about when I wake up, and what I dream about all night long. I love every aspect of it. I love every genre of it. I love the way that it takes me to another world when I'm wrapped up in it, and I love the way that it changes people around me and brings everyone together. It lets everyone know that there's other people that are going through what you're going through, whether it's happiness, sadness, there's a song for everything. Even the ones without lyrics. You can feel what they're trying to say.
Purchase their new album here: https://constantcoogan.bandcamp.com/releases
This has been another Shameless Promotion.