10 Quick Questions with Via Coma

by David Price on December 14, 2009

When your sticker's on the Bottom of the Hill wall, you've made it.

When your sticker's on the Bottom of the Hill bathroom wall, you've made it.

Via Coma, or more the idea of Via Coma, has been in the works from some time now. Their EP Bridges seemingly was never going to be officially released because Via Coma is as calculated as they come; there is little that happens in Via Coma that is not painstakingly thought out, mostly to  ensure that every step is the right one. Via Coma’s approach to gaining a following might be a little more grass roots in the classic sense, not the web 2.0 sense, by gaining a strong following in their hometown of Lafayette, CA, just outside of San Francisco. Promoting and showcasing their own shows demostrates initiative, yet the biggest struggle that faces Via Coma is making the jump from the burbs into the Big City.

I recently got a hold of Rob Marshall to pick his brain about his band, the Bay Area music scene and the music industry. Take a read and maybe find your way to Viacoma.com to download their debut EP, Bridges.

Spinning Platters: Who is Via Coma?

Rob Marshall: Via Coma is an experimental rock quintet from Lafayette, CA. The quintet is comprised of:

Vocalist and Guitarist, Rob Marshall
Vocalist and Pianist, Jesse Kyle
Vocalist and Guitarist, Nic Gracia
Bassist, Cameron Attaran
Drummer, Maxx Sherman

SP: Explain the name Via Coma.

The name Via Coma roughly translated means, “through endless sleep.” It seems as though there’s a general consensus that a substantial amount of growth is done while you are asleep. With any process of growth there is change, and evolution. In this day and age, especially sonically, change and evolution are absolutely imperative to embrace not solely for sustainability, but for the furtherance of musical expression as we know it. We embrace and understand that need to continually evolve and weave our own tapestries of sound.

SP: This isn’t the first band that most have you have been in, what did you learn from past musical endeavors to help via coma thrive?

The main things that we’ve learned from our past endeavors were the importance of constant, effective communication, the division of responsibility, the recognition of the difference between the business and personal face, and having clearly defined and agreed upon goals. It’s one thing in theory but another in practice. Dividing up responsibilities between the five of us has contributed to an incredibly relaxed band dynamic. Each of us have our own respective tasks and responsibilities in maintaining this “machine.”  The performance and execution of our individual actions are vital for ensuring the livelihood and longevity of this project. Some of us book the shows, some of us maintain our public relations, regardless of what task it is, it’s all important. If one of us needs a break from their duties, another one will step in and take over. This system allows us all to have a direct hand in what we’re doing at all times and insures that one member isn’t overwhelmed by too much weight placed on their shoulders.

When I say the “the recognition of the difference between the business and personal face” this refers to all aspects of our band. In a nutshell: Don’t take things personally. All of us are in this band because we love each other, love creating music with one another and love sharing it with people. There may be times where we may disagree on the way a chord sounds, or the design of a graphic, or how a vocal part was sung, or the myriad of other disagreements people can have with one another, but we always remember (and it’s not easy) that it’s all going towards the furthering of our collective. Like I said before we love each other, love creating music with one another and love sharing it with people.
The last of these things is relatively self explanatory (clearly defined and agreed upon goals). Going back to the machine analogy, everyone needs to be working in seamless synchronization. If a gear decides on it’s own that it’s time to rotate a different direction, or a lever decides that it’s time to be pulled without all the other components being notified, it can bring that machine to a screeching halt.

SP: With the trends the music industry has taken in the last five or so years, is a record deal necessary? If not when does it become so?

It’s very important to recognize what a band needs and what a band wants. A record deal is a something a band may want or feel that they need to achieve “the next level” but by no means is it a necessity of assuring a band successful and sustainable career.

SP: What’s your take on the Bay Area music scene?

There are so many talented artists hailing from the Bay Area, it’s an exciting time to be making music! And it’s not just in one genre either! We really into All Shall Perish, I The Mighty, Picture Atlantic, Jack Conte and Stomacher to name a few, but there are so many more out there. There’s truly something for everybody you just have to have the desire to seek it out there.

SP: What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live show?

We don’t have lasers. We don’t have fog machines or glow sticks or a mobile light show. I suppose when you come see us play, you can expect to see five people performing the music that they pour their entire lives into. You can expect us to sound like we do on our record. I know that sounds silly but with the magic of Pro Tools and Auto Tune it’s shocking how many artists can’t pull off their recordings in a live setting.

SP: Do you have any pre-show or post-show rituals that you partake in?

Before every show we like to have a nice meal, drink plenty of warm water, run through a few scales and or exercises, a little stretching, a little meditation.  We’re kind of boring.

SP: Who would you say your most influential musical influences have been and why?

It wouldn’t be fair, let alone truthful to cite only certain individuals, artists or groups in naming them our most influential figures.  In actuality the array of strictly musical influences covers virtually every spectrum. Simply put, we like what sounds good to us. Be it Rockmaninoff, The Beatles, Meshuggah, Michael Jackson, whatever sounds good to us has an influence on how we compose and perform our music.

SP: Puppies or kittens?

Well, we had a little bit of a discussion and here’s what we came up with. We enjoy both Cats and Dogs. However, collectively (some of us still disagree), we enjoy Dogs more as puppies than Cats as kittens.

SP: Thanks for your time, is there a message you want to add for your fans and everyone who’s reading this?

To our fans: We can’t thank you enough for supporting us. Every show you’ve been to, every shirt, or CD you’ve purchased. We truly could never express our eternal gratitude.

To the readers: Thank you for taking the time to read this and we hope that you’ll visit us digitally on our website or physically at a show sometime.

And a special Thank you to Spinning Platters for allowing us to be part of your site.

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