Tyler Fisher is trying to remember how old his brothers are. "Well, Joshua and Brandford were born a year apart on the same day... 23 and 24. ‘Conrad, you're 21, yeah?’ Yeah. He's signing to me that he's 21.”
He may not be able to remember their ages off the top of his head, but he can tell you there’s twelve guitars, three amps and six speakers littered around the room, as well as a piano. The Perth-based Band are sitting in their parents' lounge room, which, he explains, has slowly but surely morphed into their music room over the years, and now it's officially the practice room for one of Australia's most promising new acts: Coterie.
Vocalist / Guitarist, Tyler (27) plays alongside his younger brothers Joshua (piano/synth), Branford (bass) and Conrad (lead guitar), all of whom sing back-up. Their debut single ‘Where We Began’ is an exquisitely raw and soulful indie pop track that explored the heartache of a friend on the edge — literally, as in Tyler talked his friend down off a ledge. He was deeply affected by the experience, and so the track’s loaded with heart-breaking vulnerability and yet, somehow, a real feeling of optimism.
‘Where We Began’ was ten years of jamming in our rooms, playing in terrible garage bands with mates and writing song after song that no one would ever hear, and then... Tyler trails off. “I guess as artists and music-makers we deal with life in one way. It was a moment with a friend that weighed heavy on my heart, and when I caught up with the band and told them, there was a heaviness in the room. You can’t carry those kinds of burdens, it’ll weigh you down way too much. You have to go forward with life. So, we pour it into our music, and in this case, ‘Where We Began’.”
Far from any clichés of sibling rivalry, the brothers believe their closeness allows them to explore uncomfortable topics with depth and honesty. “We can talk about things very openly,” Brandford shares. “I guess in a sense because we’re brothers, we’ve not only been doing this together for so long, we’ve been doing everything together for so long.”
Conrad agrees. “Having broken down certain walls with each other already, we have a lot of freedom to pursue ideas together. It’s also made things like getting together to rehearse very convenient — you just bang on the room next to yours.”
At the same time, they don’t want the focus on them to be about the fact that they’re brothers. “You can have all the gimmicks in the world, but if we want to achieve the things we want to achieve, we just have to make good quality music,” explains Tyler. “So that’s where we’re sitting right now. I wouldn’t say growing up there was this intense ambition to be superstars... There was just a desire to not do anything else. You know, we had a PlayStation for about two years, and then never again. Which put us in an odd spot relating to other kids in school talking about their Gameboys, and we were kind of hung up on guitars, instruments, music. But if you can think of all the clichés of a music family, we have them. It’s all we’ve ever done.”
Music’s in their bones — their parents were talented musicians, ‘R'n'B mixtapes were always within reach, but the boys found love in the dirty guitars of Jimi Hendrix and although their debut track sits comfortably between soul and indie pop, the band explain that they haven’t even begun to release all the kinds of music they’re into. “We literally grew up on everything,” says Joshua. “There was everything from Stevie Wonder to Stevie Nicks playing in our house. The style of music we’re attracted to doesn’t sit within people’s stereotypes of what they think we are... Often people will ask us about rap, hip-hop or reggae — that’s a huge one — and we love all these genres, but... I think people will find that at the centre of everything there’s this rock ‘n roll thing happening.
‘Where We Began’ doesn’t have a huge sense of rock ‘n roll, until you strip everything away and realise how distorted the guitar lines are, how heavily guitar-focused it is.”
Conrad adds: “When I first started picking up guitar it was John Mayer. Always John. Every note he played just felt like liquid gold.”
Being based in Perth is far from holding them back, it has allowed their creativity to evolve and their dedication to their craft to deepen, without the distractions of ‘the industry’. “When people find out we’re from Perth, they ask if we feel isolated and out of the industry... yes, we do! but it’s a blessing in disguise,” Tyler explains. “There’s so much talent out here, but people don’t really care for getting to the top, they just want to be good at what they do and do it at home. The artists we admire literally only focus on making good art and use the quality of their art to push their career.”
At the end of the day, as Tyler explains, the Coterie brothers are interested in two things: making bloody good music and changing the world a little along the way. “I want young dudes to know that everyone feels in life, and if you don’t think it’s manly or strong to talk about what’s going on with you, well whoever told you that is wrong. We’re a couple of musicians, artistic, slightly left guys... Our goal is not to break stereotypes, but just not to care about them and to focus on the music.”
“In five, ten or even fifty years I’d mostly hope that we’re just making the music that we’re happy with,” Josh says.
Tyler agrees. “I honestly think if I wanted us to be ‘about’ anything for the rest of our career, I just want it to be about making good music.”