What a difference a year makes. In the time spent since The Herald last clocked in with adolescent blues maestros Earle and Coffin, the duo have successfully released an acclaimed live album, banked their first ever Canadian Folk Music Award and uncorked their debut studio effort Wood Wire Blood & Bone. The Herald once again sits down with Nick Earle and Joe Coffin, heads of the blues revival in Newfoundland and Labrador, for an intimate and informative installment of our weekly Q&A.
Q: Just to backtrack a bit, I want to congratulate you on your Canadian Folk Music Award win this past December. Take me back to your reaction to not only being nominated, but to actually winning on the day.
Nick Earle: It was just surprising I think. It was almost overwhelming. Even just to go and be nominated, that was already a win. Even in our book it’s like, well that’s done. Once we received the award it seemed crazy, we’re still trying to let it sink in.
Q: You released Wood Wire Blood & Bone, your debut studio album, on February 3rd. I understand you spent the better part of the summer working on this at The Citadel House in Lewisporte. Take me through the writing and recording process.
Joe Coffin: I guess our writing process had pretty much started a year to six months before we started recording the album this past July. Our writing process is unique. We’ll bring riffs and stuff to each other. The ideas that we both had were very much blues influenced, but we kind of rocked them up a bit. We basically lived with Dean Stairs and his family for a whole week. We’d wake up eight in the morning, grab a bit of breakfast and go record until mid day, have a little break and then record until the evening. It was really fun.
Nick Earle: It’s kind of like we’ll write a basis for a song separately, bring it together and put our ideas together and mesh them together and make a song.
Q: There’s an argument to be made that the two of you are largely responsible for the blues revival here in the province. What do you say to that? And what’s your take on the blues scene here today?
Joe Coffin: We did this acoustic project that I think we kind of consider a bit of a revivalist album. I know The Black Sheep downtown is booming with blues acts all the time. You have Roger Howse, Dave Mundy and we’ve played a few times. Denis Parker and The Modern Saints are still on the scene. We started and all of a sudden all of this blues music starts coming out of nowhere, which is really cool. It seems like the fan base for blues music is growing here. There’s a lot of people who might not know what blues music really is. We did a house concert one time and there was a man there, a big metal head, and he said he wasn’t sure if he was going to even like blues. He’s been to a few of our gigs since and said he loves it.
Nick Earle: I think this new blues inspired rock thing that we’re trying to do is a nice mix. You talk about getting in a rock band is (for young people) and kind of connects to a younger audience to. It widens the demographic.
Joe Coffin: We get to throw our bluesy licks over whatever we want and try to appeal to various age groups. For examples in the big shows we’ll be doing now we’ll do an acoustic set for fans of that stuff and then we’ll crank up the overdrive and what-not.
Q: Going back to Wood Fire Blood & Bone, how would you describe the album thematically for those who are unfamiliar with your work?
Nick Earle: It’s a potluck. It’s just a collection of ideas and songs that we just had in our minds. It’s all blues inspired and that’s one thing that is a constant through the whole thing. Every song is blues inspired but it’s a different kinds of blues.
Joe Coffin: Some of it you’ll listen to and say well that’s rock for sure.
Nick Earle: There’s a bit of rock, a bit of funk rock, a bit of Latin and be-bop. Funky bluesy. We can thank Spotify for that playlist.
Q: Final question, what would you consider to be the blueprint moving forward into 2017?
Nick Earle: We’re definitely going to be promoting the record around the island. Possibly getting off the island.
Joe Coffin: We’re hoping to get out of the province and show our faces wherever and explore the album wherever we can.
Visit www.earleandcoffin.com for more on the band. Wood Fire Blood & Bone is available online and physically at Fred’s Records now!