The Cost Talk Fighting, Loving, and the Cure
Apparently, one night, years back, I told the Cost that I really liked their music but their name sucked. In typical Cost fashion, they didn't give a shit and kept the name. Lovable yet combative, the Miami foursome plays post-punk tunes filled with heartbreak that stick to the inside of your skull and help you get a good cry in when necessary. "If you want to put it on a fucking menu," singer and guitarist Manny Roman reluctantly said of their band's focus, "my blueprint is to adopt -- it sounds cheesy, dude -- a Cure audience." And if you worship at the altar of Robert Smith, you will likely enjoy the Cost's songs.
The band consists of four recognizable characters: There's Roman with his sweet smile, curls, and round glasses, bassist Nathan Molina, totting a camera and starting fights, guitarist Julian Navarrete who has the longest, straightest hair maybe ever, and Danny Calle, the sweetheart drummer of the band. Their scrappy ways have sometimes kept them from completing shows, but they've survived, so far, on a genuine interpersonal connection.
After about four years together, the band is playing a show on May 1, at Churchill's Pub, which is where we met up with the guys a few weeks back. The conversation revolved around what objects they've struck each other with lately and about the pure love they feel for their bandmates.
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New Times: You guys are still together, but you're always starting fights.
Collectively: Yes we do.
Julian: I think that's the reason we're together.
I agree with you, I think that's a healing thing.
Danny: It's a family process type thing. Fight, then next day make up.
Julian: We've learned how to make it part of the band. Part of what we do.
And what have been the damages so far?
Julian: Besides bodily harm?
Nate: Several guitars.
Julian: Nate stabbed me with a tube. Like a pipe. Nate's lost several teeth to Manny.
Nate: A skateboard.
Danny: We've all punched each other in the face more than once.
So Manny, you hit Nate in the face with a skateboard?
Manny: On his birthday. It was at home.
Julian: For the amount of fighting or bickering we do on stage, it's much worse in private.
Do think this affects the music you make? Are you better able to make music together because you're a bunch of assholes who hate each other?
Manny: I wouldn't agree with that...
Julian: It helps, we definitely have no shame or qualms with telling each other what we don't like in the musical sense. If Nate doesn't like something that I'm doing or vice versa, there's absolutely no...
Manny: It does ruin the atmosphere at practice, like if somebody's like mad, like Nate's mad or Danny's too tired...
Julian: We're very grumpy.
So, Danny, that's your deal? You're too tired?
Julian: That's his excuse.
Danny: Well, I work ten plus hours a day.
He's the adult.
Danny: I play the physical instrument. Unlike you jerkoffs, I use my four limbs.
Manny: I dance!
Danny, you're the most mature.
Danny: I have very immature moments. But people see that I'm very serious...
Manny: Down to business.
Danny: Obviously, I have my immature moments, I get into fights with these guys, sometimes I'm not in the mood to play at all. But I think that kind of brings it to a point where it's harder for us to make music, but at the same time, kind of creates a little tension to work harder to create a good song. If there wasn't any tension, about somebody not liking something in a song, we wouldn't get to something we all like.
Julian: Compared to other bands that we've been in the past, I definitely say the songwriting process for us is equal share sort of the deal. All of our opinions are equally important. Which is rare. Usually songwriting is confined to a couple cats, but with us, sometimes to our disadvantage, all of us having equal opinions works.
You all do seem opinionated. You are the sole lyricist, Manny. You are angst-y, Robert Smith-y. Where does that come from?
Manny: Mostly influenced by getting dumped.
Nate: He needs to get laid to write.
Are you sill getting dumped?
Manny: No, I've been in a relationship for over a year.
Does that ruin the angst?
Manny: No, it's easy to dig into old memories and whatnot.
Julian: All his lyrics are pretty open-ended, could be just about any relationship.
Manny: Most of the early songs are from my perspective about past relationships. After that, I start to look at other peoples' relationships within the band. Because it makes it a lot easier. They think my life is interesting, but their lives are a lot more interesting.
Neko Case has said in interviews that the songs she writes mostly aren't about her own story. They're other people's stories. But because they sound so personal, and are done so well, it seems unbelievable. How can you empathize with those other relationships so much?
Manny: I have to relate to the situation. And obviously we talk amongst each other a lot.
You also relate then.
Manny: It's very easy to relate to the situations that these people get into.
Are you calling them simple?
Manny: (laughs) No, because then I guess I'd be simple myself.
Julian: Also, compared to most bands, besides just being in a band, we're all best friends and spend an outrageous amount of time with each other. For all intents and purposes, we live with each other to a certain degree. We're a family.
Nate, why don't you expand your photographic talents to include the band?
Nate: That's on hold right now. I'm just concentrating on myself right now with music and all that other jazz I'm doing with the band. Photography is just on hold. To multitask both is really hard.
You have limited creative energy.
Nate: For right now, yeah.
Julian, you were the last member to join. How have things changed since then?
Julian: From day one, it wasn't like something that we got eased into. From one day to another, we were together 24-7. I think when you interviewed us that last time a few years ago, we were very much...
Nate: Set in stone.
Julian: We are kind of doing the same thing we were then. But as far as life experiences go, a lot of shit has gone down, but I still love these guys with all my heart and soul.
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