When rumblings were heard just before Christmas that Hoylake’s favourite sons were returning to the fray, there was more than a flutter of excitement to see how THE CORAL would follow up 2010’s Butterfly House, after six years of soul searching. The new year brought exciting news with the announcement of a UK tour – which culminates in a headline slot at Sound City in May – followed by a drip-feed of singles from an album to be released in March. The release of Distance Inbetween is now upon us and we’re pleased to say it lives up to the Wirralites’ previous accomplishments with a dizzying array of the band’s trademark 60s-inspired melodies, mature riffage, dream-like lyrics and eerie movie-soundtrack undercurrents. Keyboardist and vocalist Nick Power is happy that the record has delivered an identifiable sound for the band: “It’s not like listening to seven million records and trying to fit in a song off each one now,” Power told us while taking a break from rehearsals. “I hope [our sound] is like a genre unto its self now. If someone says ‘that’s Coralesque’ or something, I feel proud that you know what that means. I like that, it’s something we’ve strived for.”
With former Zutons guitarist Paul Molloy replacing Lee Southall on lead, the new LP sees the boys return from their individual side projects with an album that distils their disparate, zany influences in to a cohesive whole. Here, Power takes us through the new record – which was laid down at Parr Street with producer Richard Turvey – track by track.
The album opener sets the tone nicely for this new dynamic Coral. The krautrock influences are apparent straight away, and a reverb-laden James Skelly vocal is accompanied by an incessant guitar riff.
Nick Power: “This one started out sounding like The 13th Floor Elevators and then we started replacing bits with keyboards, and I had this Arabic-like string line which sounded great in it. It started off with lyrics that we had kicking round and then James came up with a riff to put under that. It’s unlike stuff we’ve done before, which is great.”
Takes off where last album Butterfly House left off, the psychedelic dream-like vocals and driving drums giving it a distinct West Coast feel.
NP: “Ian [Skelly, drums] came up with the initial idea for this and then we all finished it. It’s got that same beat that Hawkwind use and then there’s the bit that I call F-Zero – a SNES game which had an amazing Blade Runner-type soundtrack.”
Chasing The Tail Of A Dream
The first single, released in February, sounded very much like a statement of intent for the band, expertly demonstrating where The Coral are now and what fans can expect from the new material.
NP: “This was the catalyst for the album. When we played with James on his solo album we started getting this together at the end of rehearsals for his stuff and then realised that it was more of a Coral tune. We ended up doing it and deciding we probably should do an album.”
The new album’s title track provides a slight change of pace after a breakneck opening. Introspective lyrics and an opening into the more hauntingly atmospheric element to the album make for a real highlight.
NP: “This is the oldest track, it’s been around since [unearthed ‘lost’ album recorded between 2005 and 2007] Curse Of Love. We thought we needed something epic and ‘soundscapey’ to go in the middle of this album and I always thought it was a good tune. Originally we tried to arrange it like 5 Years by Bowie, so it’s a cross between that and The Meters or something.”
A bluesy number which allows the new line-up to display their playing chops with a breakdown at the end featuring a face-melting guitar solo.
NP: “This is the one where Paul Molloy really puts his mark on the album. We extended the end of it and he went into the control room and said, ‘I’ll just try a solo’. He did one which we thought was great, then he did about 25 others. We went for that one, which we always do – it’s always the first take which is the best.”
The latest single perhaps offers the biggest departure from the sound of the rest of the record: a Bunnymen-like anthem with stabbing synths which is sure to prove popular with festival crowds come summer.
NP: “We tried to do an album just after Butterfly House with John Leckie and we sort of abandoned it. This is the only one which we kept from that session, but we re-recorded it.”
Beyond The Sun
Another epic-sounding tune which displays the band’s sense of drama and atmosphere. Abstract lyrics and a sprawling melody characterise much of the band’s latest work.
NP: “This is one of the first ones we got together from the recent lot of songs. It didn’t have the Can drumbeat at first, it was just acoustic, but that was put over at the last minute. It sounds medieval to me, this one.”
Power-penned number with the keyboardist’s eerie trademark giving it a disorientating quality, as well as Jim Morrison lyrics at their most unsettling.
NP: “I did the lyrics for this one. I wanted it to be like a murder ballad like Lost Highway or something. I pictured someone who’s driving and been on their own for too long.”
A Creedence-esque driving turn which captures the band’s more recent, rockier tendencies.
NP: “This one was just based on the initial riff that comes in and we wrote it almost in the room as it was getting played. I was made up with the hook line ‘holy revelation’, cos it’s always hard to get singles that aren’t love songs on the radio and not do the obvious thing. This is something that sticks in your mind but is also quite subversive.”
She Runs The River
The album’s eerie soundtrack element comes to the fore with this organ-led ballad. The gothic yin to the band’s classic rock yang.
NP: “This one was written and arranged and then we totally took it apart. Cos the album is almost all up before it, we wanted to bring it down before the last song. It was done on one of those old Blackpool-like Lowrey keyboards. [That haunting quality] is the side of us I like the most. I like the opposition of pure pop and that kind of thing, in the way that The Beach Boys have it.”
A swampy blues rocker which concludes the other major thread running through Distance Inbetween.
NP: “The title’s from a John Constantine comic about psychic ley lines and all that stuff. It’s also like a Dion song as well, called Daddy Rollin’ (In Your Arms), which was recorded in a bowling alley. [Fear Machine] has got a weird beat to it as well, so it’s good to end the album with it and then go into the soundtracky bit at the end.”
Off-kilter instrumental – which wouldn’t be out of place on 2004’s Nightfreak And The Sons Of Becker mini album – draws down a dusty curtain on the album. It’s a fittingly eerie end to proceedings.
NP: “We originally recorded it in the studio with loads of synths, but it was shit because it sounded like when Goose dies in Top Gun. So we had to really scale it down. We put it onto this old tape machine then we got that sound like when an old VHS is going round and you put your finger on the tape and it all warps. So it’s like the end of a B-movie or something. Loads of French journalists interpreted it as the end of the band, though!”
Distance Inbetween is released on 4th March via Ignition Records.