GUERNSEY’S COASTAL FIRE DEPT: OUTSIDERS NO MORE
FORMED in Guernsey’s northern outpost the Vale in 2013, COASTAL FIRE DEPARTMENT place themselves firmly within the 90s alt-rock-grunge genre, but there’s far more to their sound than those easy comparisons.
The trio, Ozzy Austin (drums), Saad Frihmat (bass), and Ollie Goddard (guitar/vocals) produce wide open, vivid soundscapes involving huge, driving guitars and anthemic choruses.
There’s also a clear confidence captured within their sound. A mighty self-assurance that compromise won’t be tolerated and the music they make is as much for themselves as anyone else.
The faith and conviction of the castaway perhaps?
“As a band we do feel a little as outsiders sometimes and part of that is caused by ourselves, we play the game by our rules,” explains Goddard.
“A lot of bands will say yes to everything or do something popular because they want to be seen, but we are not bothered by any of that. We do our own thing, and we only commit to opportunities if it fits what we are trying to do or if we want to do it. We’re happy that way and are probably not like most bands.
“We don’t crave attention or get involved with one-upmanship. We steer our own course. If one person likes or connects with our music, we truly feel flattered. If no one books us, likes us, whatever, we really don’t care, it really doesn’t matter. It’s all about being ourselves, honest, transparent, and concentrating on the music.
“One of the ways I approach songwriting is by writing about observations or feelings. Sometimes those emotions are quite personal. ‘Loner’ is about the feeling of being alone even when you are out & about, and you feel the world passing you by whilst you observe. ‘Stranger Town’ is a true story and tells of when I visited a pub outside of Manchester which was a bit like the pub scene from ‘American Werewolves in London.’”
In an indie world of ten-a-penny identikit bands, CFD’s versatility is a joy to discover. Nirvana, The Ramones, undeniably present in much of their work.
But a surprising, softer side also exists, as acoustic versions of ‘Gun,’ and the haunting ‘What Do I’ highlight, and to a lesser degree, the perfect summer road trip anthem, ‘Same As You’ from 2021’s ‘Connected’ album highlight perfectly.
“Yes so, we have done the occasional stripped back song. The three acoustic songs we did two years ago were a request from the US radio plugger we were using. They wanted more and we didn’t have anything lined up, so we quickly went into the studio did them all live.”
The mini album ‘CONTROL,’ released in 2019 announced their arrival to an island that has become home for two-thirds of the band.
“We’re very proud of our connections to the island,” adds Goddard, “although Saad and I aren’t full ‘Guerns’ as such. My mum is from Manchester and came to Guernsey for work and stayed. The same with Saad, his dad came from Morocco and stayed. But Ozzy is a true Guern, born & bred.
“There is a small vibrant music scene here, but like most scenes it goes through peaks and troughs and as a result, gig attendance can be patchy.”
In 2020, Ken Andrew (Stone Temple Pilots and Chris Cornell) mixed the single ‘You Are Stuck,’ which was followed by the two-minute, grunge-fest, ‘I Don’t Wanna Hold Your Hand.’
Keen to evolve their sound once more, the band recorded three singles with drummer Kellii Scott (Queens of the Stone Age and Veruca Salt) in 2021 with the album ‘Outsiders’ finally released earlier this year.
The trio are currently mixing several singles due for release later this year which will feature a new, slightly harder – yet looser – punky, grunge sound.
Coastal Fire Dept. Good guys. Certainly not cocky. But by golly, definitely nice and rocky.
Coastal Fire Dept online: www.coastalfiredept.com