By Brad Lopez
By Tom Murphy
By Noah Hubbell
By Inkoo Kang
By Dave Herrerra
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Music-scene veterans Chuck Coffey and Rob Burleson talked about playing together for a long time. Coffey played in a number of local acts, including Eyes & Ears, while Burleson has been in many groups over the years, including the Symptoms and Lion Sized.
For SPELLS, their eventual collaboration, Burleson suggested his friend Ben Roy as a potential singer, and right off the bat, the three men had undeniable chemistry. The trio then brought in one of Coffey's old collaborators, Don Bersell, on bass, and the lineup was complete.
With a sound that's equal parts East Bay Area pop punk and Rocket From the Crypt, SPELLS has been writing fun songs with more than their fair share of punk-rock snarl. We had a chance to sit down with Coffey and talk about the emphasis on making the band a rewarding experience for everyone involved.
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Westword: You've been in several kinds of bands over the years. What was the impetus behind this project?
Chuck Coffey: I don't practice a lot, but I'm always strumming on a guitar, writing riffs and putting songs together. I learned more about using Garageband and putting things together. So I wrote songs and put them on the back burner, and if anything worked out, cool. I didn't want to do anything super-technical or a laid-back band that was mellow. I'd done that, and it was fun. But this was garage-y pop punk that's easy to learn and fun to play.
At some point you kind of go back to the well of what got you into things in the first place. That's how the songwriting process started with this. But I'm not the be-all and end-all of the songwriting: I write tunes and send them around to people and see what they think. I'm not so attached to the creative process. If I think a part sucks, we never have to play it again. If other people like it, we can save it.
I think if you take yourself too seriously, you're destined for stardom and everybody hates you, maybe. Or you're not going to have any fun, and you're not going to get anywhere anyway because you're overthinking it.
This band operates in what some might consider an unorthodox fashion.
We wanted to have a band that didn't have to practice every week or play shows every week. We wanted to hang out and be productive. But most important was that you could do your homework. I would send out early demos and people could say they wanted to do this part or that part or would have an idea for a part. We've had practices before shows, where people didn't play the song together until the practice before the show, and it went fine. We want to work hard on making the songs good, but we don't want to work hard on practicing twice a week.