Fishtown’s The Black Coast combines rock and dirty blues to form a heavy guitar and vocally driven garage rock sound.
Performing as a duo or with a full band, core members Stef Emery and Ryan Gaughan dive deep in explosive guitar riffs and soaring vocals achieving a mix of grit and soul which speaks volumes.
Their debut album, “And Counting” (under band name La Capitaña), was released in 2012. Most recently, they released a set of singles under their new name, The Black Coast, at the end of 2019 into 2020. In December 2020, they released their seven-song record that includes those singles, plus a few other new songs, “Dark Days | Darker Nights.”
The band has played many Philly venues, such as The TLA, Dobb’s, Bourbon and Branch, Ortliebs, Milkboy and the recently closed Boot and Saddle. They will be putting out a “quarantine style” acoustic EP early in 2021 that will include a mix of songs from their freshman album as well as some songs from their new release.
PW recently caught up with Emery and Gaughan to talk about their careers and music.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Who were some of your early musical influences? When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
Stef: I started playing music at a pretty young age, sometime before 10 years old. I started to get into a lot of classic rock in my early teenage years, and it was then that I really found a love for singing. Although I knew from a young age I wanted to be a musician, it wasn’t until around that time in my teens when I felt like I absolutely needed to have music be a dominant part of my life. Early influences were Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Cream…All of that music from the ‘60s and ‘70s just opened up a whole other world for me.
Ryan: I was probably 10 or so when I realized this was what I wanted to do. Blues was my first main influence. Buddy Guy, BB, to Stevie Ray. Eventually making my way up to Hendrix, Black Sabbath and Zeppelin.
How did you two get together to start making music? Why did you think it would be a good fit?
Stef: Ry and I met in high school and instantly bonded over a common love for all things rock and blues. We ended up playing a few coffee house shows together in high school and college. It was 2011 when we finally decided it was time to start an official band together. Since we were best friends for so long already and always just vibed off the same musical styles, it was really an easy decision to start the band! We thought if we could bring our love for music together and write songs that we liked then maybe others would dig them, too. We were under the band name La Capitaña from 2011 to 2019 and just recently took on a rebrand changing our name to release our latest album “Dark Days | Darker Nights.”
Ryan: We were practicing for an acoustic set in a little studio where we both worked. As we were going through the songs, I just remember really wanting to hear Stef belt out some more rock tunes. We’ve also been best friends since we were 16, so we knew it would work!
You’ve played a lot of local venues, which have been closed during the pandemic. Other than not being able to perform at these places, how did all of the closures and restrictions impact you?
Ryan: It was hard to not even just see each other! Go out drinking, write together, let alone not play live. It’s been an isolating time, but we’ve found our own way of being able to carry on through it.
Stef: When the pandemic started, we were gearing up to plan a release show for the new album…It was apparent that we would need to hold off on doing that indefinitely. It’s been so different to release new music and not be able to go out and share it live, but utilizing social media has been the number one way we have been able to stay in touch with our followers. And like Ry said, not being able to even get together for drinks and make music together has been insane! We are so looking forward to the day when we can get back out there and play these new songs live.
What’s the Philly music scene like these days? Are there any local performers in particular you are following or would like to collaborate with in the future?
Stef and Ryan: We are so lucky to live in such a music-driven city with so many incredibly talented artists. There are so many amazing musicians that we get to call friends in this town, and it’s been truly inspiring to see how they have been adapting to the shut down. Everyone is forced to get even more creative with their music marketing to stay afloat, and it’s so cool to see how some of these bands have taken a tough situation and flipped it to work for them.
To name a few Philly bands and artists we are loving these days…First off – our hard-working drummer Branden King just dropped a single “Grand New (This Year),” Secret American, The End of America, Roger Harvey, 49 Burning Condors, The Menzingers…just to name a few.
Talk a little about the new album “Dark Days | Darker Nights.” How did it come together in terms of the writing and production process?
Stef and Ryan: This new record was so much fun to make. We recorded it at Cambridge Sound Studios in South Philly with Jim Salamone and Todd Mecaughey. We really took our time with it, gave it a lot of thought in the production and recording process, and really consider it to be the best representation of us as a band at this time. We wrote and recorded these songs over the period of about two years. Some came together very quickly, like the first single off the album “The Entertainment (Caught Me by Surprise),” because we literally thought we were done with the record, then we realized we didn’t quite have the standout first single that we were looking for. Ry nailed down a riff in no time, had the melody and hook, and we literally wrote the lyrics until three in the morning the night before hitting the studio to record it (which tends to be our go-to method because I recall a few late nights finishing lyrics before a session the next day!). Overall, we just knew this album had to represent where we came from with our first, but also needed to dive a little bit deeper into our love for rock music. We wanted to evolve our sound instead of possibly falling into something that could feel stagnant.
Talk a little about the “quarantine style” album that’s set to drop soon. When do you anticipate it being released, and how will your fans be able to get it?
Stef and Ryan: We had the idea to create an EP with some old and new songs all recorded at home and release it as sort of this “quarantine style” collection. It will be an all-acoustic EP with some new takes on the older tunes and more stripped down versions of the new ones. We may even throw a brand new unreleased song on it as well. We will be releasing it in the next few months and it will be available wherever you stream your music!
What are the best ways for your fans to keep up-to-date with what you’re doing?
Stef and Ryan: We are on all social media platforms, but Instagram would be the one we are most active on and where we get back to our fans. Our music is streaming everywhere and we also have a website where you can find everything all in one spot!
Check out The Black Coast online at: