If you have an irresistible urge to belt out Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” at the start of “Weather Balloon,” don’t worry, you are not alone. The musical similarities are unmistakable, if not necessarily intentional, but rest assured Poison Coats have not transformed into yet another sludge metal knockoff, although this particular track finds Trey Hawkins and company sounding far louder and feistier then they ever have.
When we last left the pensive troubadour, he was penning raw, bare-bones confessionals and unraveling existential dilemmas on his 2016 EP, Be a Better Man. While he had hoped his sophomore release would grow to be a more collaborative affair than his Fever Dreams debut, he grew impatient finding the right players and dove headlong into a messy yet unflinchingly intimate one-take session that had as much to do with immediacy and spontaneity than melody and chord structure. Contrast that with the sturdy, foot-stomping guitar rock Hawkins and his band churn out on “Weather Balloon,” and the disparities couldn’t be any more stark. Which begs the question: what sort of band is Poison Coats exactly?
“I like writing songs of all kinds,” Hawkins confesses. “I never want to wait to release songs because I like to write what is relevant to me now. Doing something bare-bones-y like the Be A Better Man EP was really important to me. I really NEEDED to do that at that time. I never want Poison Coats to be thought of as ‘this’ type of band or ‘that’ type of band.”
Fair enough. So Poison Coats, at least in its current state, is a group that’s as comfortable working in quiet introspection as it is in the blustery, rip-roaring form we’re hearing today. If you’re the type who likes to whittle an artist down to their core identity, than consider Hawkins a songwriter who needs to exist invariably in the moment, and outside the boundaries of expectations. He never forces his music, which is partially why “Weather Balloon” sat around for more than three years before seeing its release. In fact, it wasn’t until guitarist Andrew Saunders and bassist Wesley Bruner came into the picture that the song began to congeal and assume its current shape. Which brings us back to the criticalness of collaboration.
“This kind of stuff is what reminds me of why collaboration is so important,” says Hawkins. “Working with Andrew and Wesley has opened up a lot of new avenues in my songwriting. I’m excited about the new full band stuff we’ve been working on right now. It’s gonna be bigger and better and I love it and you’re gonna love it.”
“Weather Balloon” is the first single from Poison Coats’ upcoming, yet-to-be-named full length due out later this year.