Autumn Coma, ‘The Ghost of Witness’ — Exclusive Music Video Premiere + Interview
After winning our Flint Town Throwdown band of the year honors at the tail end of 2012, Flint's Autumn Coma scored a spot in rotation here on the Banana with their song 'Manipura' and some studio time with producer Matt Dalton at 37 Studios. Those sessions spawned a pair of new tunes, 'For Real,' which you may have already heard on the Flint Town Throwdown, and 'The Ghost of Witness.' The latter of which was the focus of our discussion with bassist/vocalist E'tienne Cousineau.
Tree: After seeing you play live multiple times, I'm still amazed when you switch instruments/roles and nail incredibly complex material. Your drummer, Jason (Arnold) is one of the best drummers I've ever seen play live... and that includes bands that play stadiums, and he'll jump on guitar and do vocals on a dead-on cover of Tool's 'Lateralus.' Brad (Fielder) is your guitarist and shares in the vocal duties, but he's also a badass drummer (obviously if he's covering Danny Carey). What's it like being in a band with that kind of versatility?
E'tienne: It is extremely difficult and rewarding at the same time. On one hand, the three of us are creative individuals who want control, which obviously causes some struggle within the group. It also makes our production rate much slower than most bands. The positive side of having 3 multi-talented individuals is the endless possibilities. We are constantly experimenting with our writing and performing format. Ultimately, we share the same goal of creating art that defines our collective vision, and in doing so -- the art takes on a life of its own. That is the most rewarding thing for me, watching something that we conceived become its own entity.
Tree: When you guys won last year's Band of the Year honors, you scored some recording time at 37 Studios. What was it like working with Matt (Dalton)?
E'tienne: Matt is a great producer. He cares about the song and supporting the artist's vision. There was no pressure to jump on any band-wagons or cut any corners. We recorded real instruments and real vocals... No instrument replacement, no auto tune BS. We are looking forward to doing more with Matt in the near future.
Tree: You guys have a couple of new tunes from that session, the topic of this discussion, of course, being 'The Ghost of Witness.' Tell me a little bit about where that one comes from?
E'tienne: The song is about the process of questioning the things that our society and culture want us to believe, and ultimately finding "...the strength to let go of (these things)" and explore the answers that are rooted within ourselves. I feel like there is a lot of pressure from society to think and live a certain way.
Tree: You conceived and directed the music video, correct?
E'tienne: Yes, this is my directorial debut, my experience working with Prozak on several professional video shoots was very inspiring and helpful though. The concept was initially mine, but, truthfully, it wouldn't be what it is without the help of a lot of people. I came up with the idea and then molded a lot of the details and whatnot based on brainstorming with my production partner, Jackson. He also plays the lead role in the video, helped with writing, production, cinematography, editing and shot all of the performance clips.
Tree: Tell me about the concept.
E'tienne: The story follows a man who is invited to a secretive gathering, and begins to struggle with what is real and illusion.
Tree: Where did you shoot it at?
E'tienne: Well, the video was shot in a single day in (what used to be) a funeral home/morgue. The atmosphere inside of that place was definitely haunting. We were kicking up all kinds of of dust and everyone was hacking and coughing hardcore, at which point one of my production team members mentioned the possibility that we were breathing in the remains of cremated bodies...Very unsettling.
E'tienne: Yeah, that was kind of a f---ed up realization for sure, and I don't know how valid it even is but it makes you think... It definitely correlates to the whole "ghost" theme.
Tree: Exactly. You guys went really method on that shoot.
E'tienne: Ha! We wanted the death "inside of us."
Tree: What's next for Autumn Coma... aside from coughing up dead peeps?
E'tienne: The pursuit of art and creation. The pursuit of something different.
Tree: Anything less abstract than that?
E'tienne: We are doing a Tool tribute at The Machine Shop with Russell Wayne January 17th. It's basically Autumn Coma playing Tool with Russell on vocals... Outside of that I don't specifically know. I am having a kid in a month so only time will tell. I know that we will continue to make music and put stuff out but other than that… We will see.
Tree: Congratulations! Being a dad is badass! You can get fat and no one cares! Best of luck, man!
E'tienne: Ha! I can't wait dude. I genuinely mean that, I know that it's hard but I'm looking forward to all of the struggle and experience.