Posted February 4, 2018 by Jeff in Tunes

Ryan Winnen Talks about COIN Growing Up and Gaining Momentum

Coin courtesy of Mammoth Advertising
Coin courtesy of Mammoth Advertising

A four-piece pop/rock act that formed just over five years ago, COIN has slowly built momentum. In 2016, the band had a hit with the breezy “Talk Too Much,” a track from its second studio album, How Will You Know If You Never Try. Drummer Ryan Winnen recently spoke to us via phone from Nashville where he was helping programming the light show for the upcoming tour.

I know you were all students at Belmont when the band came together, but how did you meet?
Joe [Memmel], Chase [Lawrence] and our bassist Zach [Dyke] went to Belmont. I met them through a girl I was dating who sat next to them in their music theory class. I grew up in Cleveland. I played in a ton of metal bands when I was in high school there. I moved to Nashville in 2011 when I graduated high school. I just wanted to continue playing music, but I knew I needed to find more like-minded people. The people I played with in Cleveland had gone on to college or started jobs.

What enabled you to click?
We were all the same age. We had all moved to Nashville to continue playing but we didn’t know what for exactly. Chase wanted to be a songwriter. Joe wanted to eventually be in a band but how can you arrange for that to happen? It was serendipitous when we met at the time.

We were all looking for something.

Was it difficult to get gigs in Nashville because there’s so much country music there?
When I moved there, that’s what I thought. To this day, most people ask how we survive there. There’s rock and alternative and the scene has grown immensely. At the time, we were one of five bands that had that sort of sound. We congregated with the other bands that sounded like us, but we were the new kids on the block. We would be the first band on the bill when there were only 30 to 50 people at the club. We did that for consecutive weekends while the guys were in college and I was working part time jobs. The guys did the word-of-mouth thing at school, and I was heckling people at the coffee shop to come and see us. We started playing our own shows after that.

What do you consider to be your influences?
I would say I was drawn to metal because of the playing style and aggression and intensity of it. But my dad and I listened to New Wave when I was a kid. That has made its way into COIN’s music. My other bandmates love that music too. We were listening to the Cure and Depeche Mode and Talking Heads and a Flock of Seagulls. We’re all songwriters and operating as a pop project. That’s the kind of music we draw from the most. We wish more of it existed today.

COIN initially released a few EPs?
We were here in Nashville and had friends who were learning how to record or mix. Anything we wanted at that time was $300 and we would pay that and something would come back. We released the EPs and I had met this publicist at the coffee shop where I was working who got us a music video premiere. We met our now manager and attorney in that same week. We met our agent when I was working at a clothing store. I told him I didn’t have a band at the time but I would maybe have a band in the future and when COIN started playing, I invited him. We built our team carefully. We played CMJ. That was our first experience doing something of that ilk. We went to New York and played ten shows that week. The last show was a showcase for a music blog at Brooklyn Bowl. Our A&R rep Isaac Green at Columbia signed us the next day. We played on a Thursday night and we sat down with Isaac the next day and we loved his roster. He signed bands that inspired us at the time like Passion Pit. They were bands that wrote pop songs but served them up in a cool way. We knew he was our guy.

What was it like to make the self-titled album?
It was so amazing. It was what we needed at the time. It felt like this crazy process. We had never worked with a producer. We worked with Jay Joyce, who is also from Cleveland. It was amazing. He grandfathered the whole thing. He has years of wisdom and he had made every type of record in every genre — Emmylou Harris and Cage the Elephant. We wanted a sonic identity. It was all the songs the guys had ever written. It wasn’t conceptual at all. One day Jay said, “Invite your friends over. I need you to wake up.” He has this big church he uses as a studio in East Nashville. We just played like it was a big party. We kept the drum and bass for one of the songs. I don’t know if it came out like we wanted. We didn’t know what we wanted. We would write things on the wall like fun or happy or sad and channel the emotion for the day.

Did you want to do something differently with How Will You Know if You Never Try?
It was more cohesive and self-aware. We did half of it ourselves. Our bassist is an incredible engineer. We sat in a room and rented a studio here in town for a few weeks. We did five or six songs. We did the rest with two producers we really like. One was in New York and one was in L.A. It was a different process because we weren’t locked in a church for a month. The location change was cool too. We did some in New York and L.A. and Nashville. That’s the triangle where we spend our time.

Talk Too Much” is such a breezy tune. What inspired it?
Chase and Joe wrote that song in L.A. on one of the writing trips. I recently started writing with them, but it was before I joined the lyrics and melody trip. They were listening to INXS and the kind of music with that bright jazzy guitar. That was what initially inspired the song, I think. They said it was done in five or six hours. They listened to it then when they were walking around the grocery store and couldn’t believe it. The initial inspiration comes from Chase. He has an inability to leave things unsaid. You always feel like you’re saying too much. That’s how he communicates his truth.

The next COIN single is “Growing Pains.” Talk about that song a bit.
“Growing Pains” is a song we started about a year ago. We even recorded it once and it didn’t feel right. We just revisited it only two months ago. Now, our team is excited about it. That will be the first single of this year. We’re making a joke that it sounds like the more mature and kind of aggressive wiser brother of “Talk Too Much.” It possesses what we think people like about our band. It feels like we’re growing up with it. The rest of the album is being written and recorded intermittently throughout the year. We’ll release music as we see fit. That will create what becomes the album. It’s been cool. It’s less focused and less “locked in the studio.” We like to work when we’re moving.

Photo courtesy Mammoth Advertising



Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.