The Cost on Loving Postpunk: "When Girls Break Your Heart, That's When It Starts to Make Sense"
I Am Your Villain
A lot of the credit for new South Florida foursome the Cost 's mature sound can be pinned on a cool dad. Band cofounders Manny Roman , its frontman, and bassist Nate Molina were middle-school buddies when they started digging into Molina's father's record collection. A transplant from L.A., the elder Molina was an avid new-wave and postpunk fan during that era, and the future members of the Cost discovered that they too loved those urgent, romantic sounds.
Almost a decade later, after stints playing in half-serious high school bands, Roman and Molina finally found a steady drummer, Danny Calle, and decided to pursue a postpunk sound around late 2010. Slowly but surely, the band has continued to gig around South Florida, improving both its take on the genre and its live performances, to increasingly impressed crowds. The Cost's biggest show to date came just two weekends ago, opening for the Jacuzzi Boys at Churchill's in Miami.
This Saturday, the group hits the Green Room stage for this month's edition of County Grind Live. We caught up with Roman by phone to chat about Cure posters and recording on Miccosukee land.
New Times: When and how did the band start?
Manny Roman: The band's always been an idea for a while, before it actually became the band. It was probably three or four years back, right after high school. Nate and I always had the idea of starting a band, but we couldn't find a drummer. Then we found Danny [Calle] and became a three-piece. Now, as a four-piece [with Julian Narravete], we've been together almost a year, pretty soon.
When you were still in high school, it was just an idea. Did you have an idea of the kind of band you wanted to start, or did you just want to start a band in general?
What really inspired us was the music we were listening to, which was mostly what Nate's dad was listening to. He would feed us the Cure, Depeche Mode, very postpunk stuff and very dark. We never sat down and said, "Oh, we want to sound a certain way." We just kind of jammed, and these songs came out, out of nowhere. We're still trying to figure out where they're coming from. But you can hear the songs and pinpoint the influences.
When you first heard that music, what appealed to you or grabbed you first?
Well, at the time, I was listening to a lot of heavy metal -- this was middle-school age, like 13. I remember going into Nate's dad's room, and he had the biggest Cure poster I've ever seen in my life; it took up the whole wall. It was the "Boys Don't Cry" poster, and it was just kind of overwhelming to see it at the moment. And as time went by, I fell in love with the Cure -- which is still the strongest influence by far, for me.
The first time I heard the Cure, actually, I didn't really like it. I thought it was pathetic, because I loved the heavy stuff. But then my point of view started changing.
When did you start coming around?
To be honest, it's when you start learning about heartbreak. When girls break your heart, that's when that music starts to make sense and you get attached to those albums and they speak to you.
What was the biggest challenge about trying to write in that style when you first started?
Honestly, it wasn't even a challenge. I think the biggest challenge we had was Danny cutting his hand during our first rehearsal back in December. He was jumping on a fence and ended up cutting his whole palm wide open, so we couldn't rehearse for a whole month after that.
But as soon as we started writing, Nate already had a style of playing bass that was playing single notes, very postpunk. Around the same time, the xx released their first album, and that was simple postpunk too, so that had a lot of influence on my playing. I felt I didn't have to do a lot of flashy playing with my guitar, and I could just do simple melodies. As time went on, then, the songs would get more complex.
A couple of weekends ago, you played with the Jacuzzi Boys at your biggest show to date, and you've played with them before. Are they friends of yours?
Yeah, they do look out for us and always want to book us for a show and have some of our tracks that they're sending around for us. So I consider them friends, yeah.
Have you gotten any advice from them or learned anything from them?
Plenty of advice, yes. There have been a lot of drunken nights there where they are full of advice. I think the most touching thing they've ever told me was when I was telling Gabriel, the lead singer, about the town we're coming from, Doral, and how we go out to the Everglades to go record with a Miccosukee out on their land. He told us that was the most beautiful thing about our band, and how it makes it so original.
How did you wind up recording out there?
Nathan has a really good connection with the population out there, and one of our friends has a crazy, crazy studio on a two-acre lot there. It's separate from the house itself, and it's very secluded and quiet. He offered for us to go record there when the band first started. Those recordings are awful, but it's good to hear them to see how the band has progressed. Then we went for a second run, and that's when we recorded the tracks you hear on our Bandcamp page now.
You've started to play out more lately. How has your live show improved from the early days?
Honestly, we tend to play a lot more sober now than we did before. It's a lot less sloppy, and the sound quality is a lot better. We used to reminisce with friends, saying, "Yeah, that was such an awesome show," but they'd tell us it was really awful. That made us realize we have to play sober.
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