Every day when I arrive to work I immediately start my music discovery process. Often there are a few songs that make me pause, that stand out among the ocean of artists. But Cold Weather Company made me stop working altogether. Odds are you haven’t heard of the New Brunswick trio, but you damn well should. In today’s very special post, I present to you “An Artist to Watch: Cold Weather Company”.
I was lucky enough to speak with the band on their art, lyrics, and future. But first, take a listen at my four favorite songs…and read the interview below.
“What Do I Do” starts with a two minute intro, walking you through the fields of Cold Weather Company. As the pace picks up, so do the number of integrated elements within the song. All of a sudden we are hit with deft hands on the guitar, which link lyrical passages, sprinkled with piano riffs and gorgeous overlying harmonies. It’s about now when you’re beginning to try to understand why you haven’t heard of this band before. It doesn’t stop there. Solos on the piano and guitar circle back to those fields you started walking through in the beginning of the song; the contrived memories of your “folky past” come flooding through your mind.
In “Fellow of the North”, Cold Weather Company starts providing depth similar to that of Radical Face or Horse Feathers. For cello lovers, this is the beginning of a long night with Cold Weather Company on repeat. But before you move to the next song, don’t forget about the interlaced layering of “I was humbled by the stars”. Snap. Crackle. And Pop.
Are comparisons to Coldplay too much for “Someone Else”? No. Not at all. I felt I was in the same room as a young Chris Martin. The volcanic eruption of talent coming from pianist, Steve Shimchick is something unrivaled by some of the more popular bands of today. Be on the lookout for this to appear on many future playlists.
Lastly, “Horizon Fire” is a folksy, Mumford & Sons / Jared & the Mill (one of my favorite AZ bands) like tune. If anything, it rounds out the beginning premier of a band that has a successful future ahead of them. Make sure to share them with your friends, and if you love their music go download it from their SoundCloud!
The Audible Threshold meets Cold Weather Company
TAT: Making art can be a way to preserve or capture a moment. It can also be means of catharsis, of letting go. In “What Do I Do”, you showcase a conflicted mind, an inconsistent soul as you call it. Do you write these songs with the intent of remembering and capturing your soul at those moments, or do you write with the intent to let the inconsistency go?
CWC: (Brian and Jeff) There’s always a bit of both. I think we all strive to let our inconsistency go—we’re all searching for our truest selves. Songwriting is our way of exploring our thoughts and emotions. Our songs are all based on our lives, so their writing requires introspection. In a way, while writing, we have to try to look at ourselves from an outsider’s perspective in order to see how everything works together. Once a song is written, it represents a moment of understanding and relief for the writer. So we would definitely agree that songwriting (as well as performing) is a cathartic process. That said, each song that we write acts as a snapshot of our lives at that moment. Writing a song is like bottling up a thought, emotion, or memory and storing it on a shelf. After the song is finished, one does not have to worry about forgetting that moment, for the combination of melodies, harmonies, and lyrics brings it right back. Brian is a photographer, and he takes pictures for the same reason—to preserve worthy moments in life.
TAT: In “Fellow in the North” there seems to be an underlying tone of angst towards a certain individual. However, the frustration seems to be solved by an immersion into nature, a Walden-esque solution. Thoreau did say “we need the tonic of wildness”. In your opinion, does solace actually come from the natural world, or is this an analogy to something bigger? Can angst be solved by this tonic?
CWC: (Brian) I am both inspired and healed by nature. Since my childhood, the woods around the towns where I grew up have been my escape when I needed to put things into perspective. The forest is a place full of mystery—where the smallest patch of land carries within it such a complex ecological network of functions and processes. “Fellow in the North” is written as if it is a letter from a man to a past friend (perhaps an ex) with whom he had a falling out. Already stressed and tired of the structured, day-to-day existence of the average person, the problem between the two was the final straw for the Fellow. In an escapist move, he decided to venture into the wilderness to find a simpler, more fulfilling life. Once there, he is “humbled by the stars”—in awe of and appreciation of the vast system in which he is but an immeasurably small part. It is a realization both beautiful and frightening, but it brings him peace. The line “You were hollow from the start”, however, hints that the Fellow still has some bitterness left. This is something that we plan on developing further in future songs, as he will be a recurring character in our music.
Solace can absolutely be found in nature, but I believe the solution to angst and other problems comes from within. The Fellow may have been humbled by the stars, but his realization and growth occurred within himself. Nature simply provided the inspiration he needed to transform his perspective. Thoreau entered the woods to explore not only nature, but his thoughts and predispositions. Nature provides the conditions necessary for healing, growth, and learning—one simply has to listen.
TAT: Talk to me about “Someone Else”. The power behind the lyrics and the emotion conveyed throughout the arc of the song is as special as it gets. Where is this emotion stemming from?
CWC: Steve here, first off thank you for your insight! I wrote the lyrics for “Someone Else” based on a personal experience. They’re fairly straightforward in that I really just wanted to be upfront about the whole thing. I wrote it in early November of 2013 at a time when things were pretty confusing for me regarding a girl. Like the title says, it’s about ‘someone else’ (or more so the girl who was interested in someone else). Interestingly enough, eventually things seemed to be going really well, but then later on (around the early part of 2014), things were downhill again. The song was still relatable by early 2014 because now there was the same girl but there was a new guy (who still wasn’t me, that’s a double whammy right there). I consider the situation a mix of bad luck, lack of trust, being led on, and more negative things that go along with that! However I’m in a way grateful that it happened, because I’m not sure where I’d be if it hadn’t and it definitely shaped me in a big, positive way, moving forward. In all honesty, I haven’t had too many experiences to incorporate into my songwriting, so when something does happen it tends to stay with me for at least a few songs. By now the song is essentially the first of a trilogy regarding the situation. I didn’t write them with that idea in mind, but it just ended up working out like that! So be on the look out for “Seafarer” and “Unlocked” in the future.
TAT: In “Horizon Fire” you touch on the fact that “I don’t know my self now”. As young adults, many of us speed through life filling our time with distractions that provide no insight into who we truly are. By writing and performing these songs, do you three feel any closer to finding that essence of self?
CWC: As you can tell by our previous answers, the “search for the self” is a recurring theme in our work. Maybe each song we write brings us a step closer to figuring ourselves out. Maybe you never truly know yourself. Life is a collection of moments, some small and some large. The moments we make determine who we are, and there is no period in life more volatile than young adulthood. While we, as young adults, often look back on our recent history—wild nights, wasted days, and that scary search for a career—as a series of distractions, those moments have aided our understanding of ourselves. Often times, the journey is the best part. We know, however, that we never feel more sure of ourselves than when we are writing and performing. So I think we’re on the right track!
TAT: What are the next steps for Cold Weather Company? Album coming out soon?
CWC: Now that Jeff is back from his five-month stay in New Zealand, we are going to be focusing on writing and recording. We are hoping to release our first full-length album around November (isn’t that fitting—just as things start to get cold). We are also playing a good number of shows in the New York/Philadelphia area, and we hope to expand our range soon!
TAT: If fans are looking to support your band, what is the best way for them to do so?
CWC: The best thing anyone can do right now is share our music. Everything we have released to this point is available to download for free, and you can find it all on our SoundCloud page. We’re honored to have gotten this far with our songs. Nothing is as fulfilling as knowing others appreciate what we do.
TAT: Thanks guys for everything & good luck with the upcoming album!
Do you know a band I should showcase? Let me know on Twitter @logan_stoneman or click the follow button on the top right of the page!
A little more about Cold Weather Company:
Cold Weather Company is an independent alternative folk band from New Brunswick, New Jersey. Combining influences such as Fleet Foxes, Coldplay, and Dave Matthews Band, the group creates a unique sound rich with vocal harmonies. The members of Cold Weather Company are from all over New Jersey. Steve grew up in Cherry Hill, Brian in North Brunswick, and Jeff in Sparta. Brian and Jeff met by chance one afternoon on the Cook Campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ in 2011. After two years of sporadic jamming around New Brunswick, the two finally felt it was time to create something cohesive in the early Fall of 2013. They had met Steve at a variety of on-campus open mics and musical events, and were quick to call him in on the project. After just two meetings, the trio had written their first song together, “Horizon Fire”. They played their first show at a benefit concert on November 15th, 2013 at Rutgers under the band name, “The Horizon Mindset.” Quickly realizing that “The Horizon Mindset” was a terrible choice, they began thinking about a more serious name. The name Cold Weather Company was the result of a three-week brainstorm. While discussing possible band names, Fall was becoming Winter, and the weather was growing colder by the day. The trio also felt that they were most inspired to write during the colder months of the year.
Songwriting is a collaborative effort for the band. Instrumental parts are written by the group as a whole during the writing process. Lyrics are written first by the member with whom the song seems to resonate most. The lyrics are then revised by the group as a whole until they form a cohesive story. Most of their songs focus on love, nature, and the inner search for one’s self and purpose.