The Audreys are gearing up for their first ever gig in Hobsons Bay and WAH spoke with singer/songwriter Taasha Coates ahead of the duo’s appearance at the Summer Sounds Music Festival on January 20, 2018.
The past twelve years have been one hell of a ride for Coates, with The Audreys becoming one of Australia’s most respected and accomplished folk-rock outfits, who in that time have taken home three ARIA awards in the Best Blues and Roots category. The success has also seen them embark on multiple international tours, one of which saw Coates collect herself a cowboy husband, Ray Flowers, along the way.
“Ray worked for a bunch of labels in America, he worked for Polygram. When I met him he was living in Austin and running a management company. Sorry, my husband is prancing around in the nude trying to distract me. It’s working.“
So with the naked cowboy by her side, Coates started to open up on her most recent project, a debut solo album ‘Taasha Coates and her Melancholy Sweethearts’, which is as raw as it is deep, featuring songs about love, lust, sex and domestic violence.
“It was hard. It was a tough few months writing that record. I think I wrote it over about five weeks and through that time I went to some pretty dark places to write it, which I hadn’t really done with The Audreys before. I’d written about personal things before but often from a character’s perspective, rather than saying ‘I’ so I just had to go there. It was good though, it was very therapeutic,” said Coates.
Not expecting to dive in deep, head first, talk turned to the first track ‘This House Is Gonna Burn’, which comes from a very personal experience that fuelled the emotion behind lyrics such as “If you’re still there when I return, that old house is gonna burn.”
“I was in an abusive relationship. That’s what the song is about. It wasn’t a lot of fun. I was in Afghanistan singing for the troops with John Schumann and while I was away my ex was moving out of the house so that’s why I was like ‘you better be gone when I get home’. It’s the first line. That’s where it came from,” Coates said.
Becoming a single woman came at a time when Coates also became a solo artist, where she says for the first time in her life made her feel like an actual songwriter.
“I guess because I was doing it by myself. I had this series of experiences around writing that record. I’ve just recently become an APRA ambassador and I did a Song Hubs thing up in Brisbane and then I went to Austin and I spent ten days at a place called The House of Songs, where I was doing co-writes with other songwriters and I’d just written this solo record, which was 100 percent me, and I just suddenly found myself feeling like this is what I could do, this is what I’m good at,” Coates said.
“In 2016, I spent a lot of time just stepping up and being a songwriter. The Song Hubs thing you write three songs in three days and then you record them. When I was in Austin I think I wrote and co-wrote five songs over three or four days. I’d just written fourteen tracks for me record. It was a lot of writing and I got to a place where I started to enjoy it and feel like I was good at it.”
Coates’ new life as a solo artist took a short break when, in late 2017, she decided to get the band back together for a pretend ten-year reunion.
“In the 10th year I was doing my solo record and Cam, Tristan’s brother, played on our first record, but he left the band to be an actor. He’d just finished doing a long stint with The Lion King and was taking a year off full time acting and so we started talking to him about doing some stuff with us and we decided that we wanted to do a tour and obviously that was the record he played on so we were like ‘we’ll have to tour the first record. We should do it for our ten years’ and then we went ‘oh shit, that was last year’ so we just made a thing out of it being eleven years, eleven is the new ten,” Coates said.
Now with two children and a naked cowboy husband, who at this point in the interview had accidentally locked himself out of the house, it certainly appeared that touring these days would be a bit different than packing up the old tour van and hitting the road.
“Touring has been different for me for a while. I do a mix of take-off for the weekend, get on a plane, go and do a couple of shows and come home on Monday morning. Or which we have done a little bit of over the last year since Ray’s been in my life, throw the kids in the back of the car and drive and show them a bit of Australia and show Ray a bit of Australia. I think Ray has seen more of Australia than most Australians now, just from being with me,” Coates said.
Whilst the mode of transport and number of passengers on Coates’ tour bus may have changed, it became clear that almost nothing could stop the sassy straight-shooting singer/songwriter from another tour now, or in the future.
“We’ve actually got quite a big tour coming up in March-April and we’re doing a bunch of Speigeltents and some other shows around that and then we’ll be doing some house concerts. The first half of the year is pretty full, with shows, which is great. I love touring, I love playing live, it’s great. I love being on stage, I love meeting people who have come out to see the shows afterwards. I love being on the road,” Coates said.
There was only one more question left to ask, whether there would be another album from The Audreys in the near future.
“I’d really like to write a new record with Tristan, but if I do another record it will be because I feel like I have something to say and it will come from a creative urge rather than anything to do with recognition or anything like that. It’s not something I’m going to force myself to do. It’s not something I feel like I have a choice, it’s something I feel compelled to do,” Coates said.
Final departing words featured some wise words from Taasha Coates, for any aspiring singer/songwriter and some advice on when not to release a record.
“When you write your first record you don’t know, it could just be a fluke, you may never write a decent song again,” Coates said.
“It’s a shit way to make a living. It’s a tough business. All of those things are true. For a new band with a debut album, don’t release in November-December. That’s when Michael Buble releases records”.
Fans of Taasha Coates and The Audreys can see the band perform live and free when they come to Williamstown for the Summer Sounds Music Festival on January 20, followed by another kid-friendly matinee gig at the Northcote Social Club on January 21, as well as a number of other shows to be announced in the coming weeks.
To learn more about Taasha Coates you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can also learn more about The Audreys on their website and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.