Interviews

The Penny Serfs

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Not content just working with successful artists – Michael Coy, Andrew Linley, Stu Tenold, and Kyle Lewis joined forces to become The Penny Serfs in 2012. Their debut album, Like Eating Glass, is out today!

We recently sat down with lead vocalist/guitarist Michael Coy to get his thoughts on working in front of and behind the microphone, inspirations for the new album, and more! Check it out below.

How did you come together formally as The Penny Serfs? How much time had you spent together on the production side before becoming a band of your own?
We have toured formally in previous bands or were “techs/roadies” for the last ten years. Kyle and I have worked together for the past four years; Stu, Kyle, and I for the past two. I go way back with Andrew in bands and he also is a touring front-of-house engineer (hello goodbye was his most recent).

What did you learn from working with successful artists like Regina Spektor and The National? Did you see any common mistakes or missteps among the bands you’ve worked that you’re actively trying to avoid?
This is one of my favorite questions. The two common things I learned from these artists is to be yourself and do things the way “you” would like. Play because you love it. And Both artists accomplished that every tour, every night.

Back when I first started teching I worked for a very successful band. The band was comprised of younger guys and I think they let the budget get out of control. The tours lost a lot of money. I’d always keep good company with people that want to protect my livelihood.

You recently released “When I’m Lonely”, a sweet and very catchy track from your new album – what can you tell me about the motivation or message behind writing this song?
Everytime I return from tour I get a little stir crazy and lonely and my wife always tolerates me getting back to normal. Through that little bout of depression I came up with a song about dreaming of her on tour; ironically returning seeming unhappy. I incorporate a little fiction within the stories, touching on how a wife should be an equal partner. I don’t resolve too much in the lyrics because I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. To sum it up, it’s just a lingering sad song haha.

The aforementioned “When I’m Lonely”, as well as “Always Raining” sound like they could’ve been taken right from The Kinks’ library, while “Manic Depressive” has a much edgier, grungier sound. How do you manage your varied sources of inspiration when putting an album together?
First off, I appreciate the comparison. I wish I could be half of Ray Davies as an artist. I was a 90s kid so my angst was in punk rock and Kurt Cobain and those influences poke out a lot in the music. But now I’m growing up and trying to say the same message with more creative music that soothes my own ear. As far as the sound, we try to keep an eclectic mix because playing the same song over and over just doesn’t seem appealing. And we don’t have anyone telling us what to do.. Well at least for now. Hopefully forever.

What is the plan for the band in 2015? Do you have plans to release more music? Tour? Or do you have production commitments to keep you busy?
We will release another EP this summer if we all aren’t working. We already have the concept and songs almost finished. We want to release as much music as possible and get it out there. We will be on an east coast tour starting in January, as well as a March run out west. As far as the production side is concerned, we each have a few things but we are focusing on the ‘serfs for now.

Thanks Michael!

Upcoming tour dates:
1/28 – New York, NY – Mercury Lounge
1/29 – Philadelphia, PA – Bourbon & Branch
1/30 – Flint, MI – TBD
(Be sure to check out thepennyserfs.com for more dates)

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Josh
Chief Of All The Things at Emo At Heart
Josh is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Emo At Heart.