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The Cohens are back with their new single “Coffee Break”

Gabbi Garcia and Khalil Ramos for Scout x Globe

Change is a constant in the local music scene. Bands come and go. This morning’s popular sound won’t be tomorrow and the “usual” gig bars might not even exist in a year or two. The Cohens are no exception to this unwritten rule in the scene and it shows in their latest single.

Formed back in 2011, this pop-rock band from Ateneo De Manila embraced their love for The Beatles and let it out through their early tracks. “You Threw Me Out” is one of their earlier singles that was a clear homage to the British band’s Please Please Me and Hard Day’s Night era. But a lot has happened in the eight years they’ve been together.

Read more: Supporting your local musicians is more than going to Fetê

The biggest game changers include their one-year hiatus, eventual changes in the current lineup, and original lead guitarist Ian Invencion’s last song with the band which became “Coffee Break.”  Their sound matured after these events unfolded. Now, the boys return with a new lineup and a new single in store.

The Cohens dropped their single “Coffee Break” last Friday on Spotify. The track tells a classic meet-cute tale in a coffee shop setting. Their latest single also launches their new psychedelia-inspired sound and newfound love of writing their tracks in Filipino. Listeners of the band will notice how they’ve grown as musicians while staying true to their roots. We chatted with drummer Joe Puyat about their latest single and what we can expect from the band’s return.

“OPM didn’t die and have today’s bands save it.”

Why is now a perfect time to come back to the music scene after your hiatus?

There have been arguments about OPM being “dead” or “dying” in the past few years, but now it has allegedly been “saved” by bands who have regularly appeared on people’s Twitter lists. But we do not see it as simple as this. OPM didn’t die and have today’s bands save it; it is peaking in its reach, marketing impact, and overall interest through the technology now available to us. This is why we believe it is the best time to return to the music scene.

How does “Coffee Break” reflect the band’s maturity as musicians?

We matured as musicians during the recording and mixing process of “Coffee Break.” We did the whole record independently, but we were meticulous about it. There were numerous changes to the arrangement and production aspect of the track that rendered many drafts. It shows our maturity because of the decisions we made to shape the dynamics through the different sections of the song.

“‘Coffee Break’ is still a fusion of our influences, but we never felt like we had to copy how these bands sounded or restricted in a particular genre.”

How has writing your songs in Filipino and experimenting with genres affected your current sound?

“Coffee Break” is still a fusion of our influences, but we never felt like we had to copy how these bands sounded or restricted in a particular genre. It’s normal for bands to take inspiration from their idols, but we made sure to come up with our own sound as we made this first Filipino song. It was written and sung by Aaron Parlade who is a returning original member from our high school days.

There are certain phrases that just strike us more or feel heavier when said in our native tongue. But in terms of our sound, we admit that we are heavily influenced by APO Hiking Society, The Eraserheads, and The Itchyworms. And while these bands have excellent songs sung in English, their songs in Filipino have had more of an impact on us.

“We now just aim to make music that we are proud of, and to make music that will give listeners a ‘refreshed nostalgia.'”

What can we expect from your comeback?

Over the past eight years, we have questioned ourselves as a band on whether we were really “in” the local music scene, whether we belonged or not. We’d ask ourselves if our music appeals to regulars at events in Route or Saguijo, or if we were better suited for corporate gigs and private events. But drawing from our answer to the first question, there is no shortage of talent and new music being released today spanning various genres and other music scenes.

While our music has been classified mostly under the “indie” scene, it’s no longer a concern for us whether we fit in this or that scene that’s known for this genre. We now just aim to make music that we are proud of, and to make music that will give listeners a “refreshed nostalgia.”

People can expect us to return with a sense of service with our continued development as musicians on stage and in the studio. This is a service that aims to add to the flourishing local music scene of whatever genre, and a service that promotes and reminds us Filipinos how wonderful our own music can be.

Coffee Break” is now out on Spotify. For updates on The Cohens, follow their Facebook page and SCOUT Magazine.

Art by Jillian Arteche

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