Featured Music: Wednesday, May 11, 2005
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Not a Tim Locke project: Coma Rally is a ‘band’ band.
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A Priori

Adventurous alt-rock
outfit Coma Rally exists in
a musical vacuum — really.

By ANTHONY MARIANI

Coma Rally is not a Tim Locke “project.” Coma Rally is a bona fide band in which Tim Locke happens to co-write music with ex-Sugarbomb guitarist Daniel Harville, write lyrics, and play guitar. All of Locke’s other music pursuits — from the alt-country outfit Calhoun to his singer-songwriter material — could be considered side work. Coma Rally is full-time.
Thinking of Coma Rally as a Locke project, however, is in many ways a compliment to the man’s prolific nature. Ever since the demise several years ago of his previous permanent band, Blue Sky Black (and before that, the Grand Street Cryers), Locke has worn dozens of hats — he’s played guitar for both John Price and Zac Maloy and is currently filling in for Cory Kreig of Flickerstick, and he’s a card-carrying member of the Acoustic Mafia. As a testament to his prodigious talent, Locke’s year-old Calhoun is probably tighter and more creative than 99 percent of the other workaday alt-country bands in the Metroplex. Adding to the popular misconception of Coma Rally as Locke’s baby is the fact that Locke may be the most well-known of the band’s four members, though his bandmates are all just as accomplished as he. Drummer Max Lintner was once a member of Blue Sky Black, Zac Maloy, and renowned alt-rockers Valve, and bassist Byron Gordon, another Acoustic Mafioso, has played with everyone from Zac Maloy to jazz master Johnny Case.
Coma Rally has been about two years in the making. It began taking shape when, after months of plying the solo acoustic scene, Locke developed an itch to rock out. With Lintner and Gordon, Locke recorded a demo. Said Gordon: “It was a different vein to go down. I’d done a lot of acoustic stuff with [Locke]. I wanted to do a band band.” Lintner was equally eager. “I’d been waiting to work with [Locke] for three years.”
In the back of his mind, Locke wanted to sell Harville on the idea of joining the band; the two had always talked of playing together. (Sugarbomb and the Grand Street Cryers had shared many bills.)
The two musicians were highly simpatico. Both wanted to create solid rock ’n’ roll, and both wanted to remain as close to their united artistic vision as possible, without necessarily alienating listeners. “In both of our early bands, we were guilty of hardcore pandering,” Harville said. “You get caught up in the bullshit of trying to write hit singles. We’re both on the same, bitter level.”
Said Locke: “We want people to like it. ... Without being self-indulgent, we want to challenge people and ourselves.”
Even though the demo was rough, Harville said, it was full of potential. As he listened, he began to orchestrate new parts and rearrange extant portions of songs in his mind. He became a member not long afterward.
With the line-up settled, the goal during writing was for each member to set aside his preconceived notions of what’s good, to help lift the band into uncharted territory. “I didn’t want to be influenced by anything,” Locke said. “Just the four of us in a room.”
Paradoxically, in their desire to shut out influences, the guys in Coma Rally betray that they were heavily influenced by the music industry itself. “The state of music right now, to me, is in a rut,” Harville said. “Obviously, all of these popular bands are influenced by specific sounds, like ’80s retro or garage.”
After 10 months, the material that would make up the band’s eponymous full-length was composed. Two of the songs were from the demo.
The record is dark and amorphous though leavened by enough catchy edges to intrigue even casual listeners. “Angry” could be the best word to describe the lyrical content. “We’re a sick country,” Locke said. “The spiritual reawakening that happened after 9/11 lasted for a good minute.” The country’s condition now, Locke said, is “worse than ever.”
The band credits producers Todd and Toby Pipes for contributing a lot to the final product. Said Harville: “It was a good combination. We had done our homework, and it was all there for them to go at it with fresh ears. ... We wanted to develop our sound in the studio.”
The process of recording, Locke said, took more than a month’s worth of work but was spread out over a year.
Though the musicians look at Coma Rally as a full-time occupation and do harbor professional aspirations, Harville said the “no agendas” approach to the music is also reflected in the individual musicians’ attitudes about Coma Rally as a career. When he joined, he said, all he wanted was to be creatively sated. If Coma Rally disappeared tomorrow, he would be happy. “But as a fan of the music, I want other people to hear it,” Harville said. “That’s my drive.”
For all of Locke’s talk about Coma Rally as his passion, he’s putting his money where his mouth is. As everyone on the music scene knows, nothing says “Full-Time Band” better than a van full of musicians, traveling the same musical — and geographic — trajectory. That’s right. Locke said that in July, Coma Rally is going to commence the ultimate band-building experience — a tour. l


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