“There Are No Fucking Rules To Music”
Chris Cote spews “emotional vomit” and speaks candidly about his latest musical interlude.
Do you remember how good surf magazines used to be? Remember when Chris Cote was still the editor of one?
Like a lot of us print geeks, when the Interweb came and goggled up the print mags. Chris— former Editor in Chief of Transworld Surf—had to pivot.
There’s a certain allure to editing mags and, as Sam George once described, “civilian life” is a little mundane after a tour of duty. But Chris is crafty. He’s good people.
And he’s the kind of guy that knows how to entertain a crowd.
When Transworld Surf was killed off by The Enthusiast Network, Chris picked up the mic and transitioned into commentating, performing, MCing, and playing Host at various Surf and Action Sports Industry functions.
“I never had a choice,” he says of his early foray into the music scene. “There was always music playing in my house as a kid. ALWAYS. For better or for worse—as in, music playing during the day and music late into the night. Parental parties at my house were a constant when I was a child. So, music was an omnipresent part of life, and I learned to love all kinds of music. I always wanted to play, never took lessons, but in my late teens I discovered Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Slint—indie bands that basically showed me, music doesn’t have to be ‘learned.’ You just do it however you want to do it. There are no fucking rules to music.”
The mag days have long since passed and Chris is doing just fine. He’s got his two young sons to raise and just recently released his first solo record, called “Friends Coming Home,” in which he does all the songwriting and instrumentation.
“I’m influenced by everything,” says Chris.
But some artists have left larger impressions than others. His favorite band is Steely Dan. He has the words “No Static At All” inked on his body in tribute. He’s seen them 12 times.
“As far as influences, they’re wide-ranging and varied,” he continues. “Afrobeat gets me moving. William Onyabour and Femi Kuti are tops. Kraftwerk puts me in a positive trance. I love ‘80s music. Talking Heads is huge for me. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Lost Animal and Alex Cameron, both very inspirational to the new single I just recorded. David Bowie, his views on constant change and not playing to what the audience wants, but what he wants—that’s the shit.”
In 2016, he also rekindled the magic with his old band, Kut U Up, which he co-founded in 1996, and whose tune, “Make It Out Alive,” accompanied Andy Irons iconic section from Taylor Steele’s Campaign.
“Kut U Up will never die!” proclaims Chris. “We’re actually looking to record some new music this summer. It’s funny, cause we’ve become a sort of cult band, with fans around the world who just keep on hanging on. We’ve been friends forever, and there’s nothing like the friendship/brotherhood you develop being in a band. It’s crazy that people still like the music and keep asking us for more. We’re trying to get our shit together and put out some new stuff, and we will, stay tuned.”
As far as his solo project goes, Chris is a dad, and has a lot going on professionally—which makes spending long, booze- and drug-fueled nights in the studio and on the road, touring, problematic. So, he recorded the record all by himself, in the little gaps of time that dads running constant side hustles are able to find.
“It’s pretty hard to be in a band as a ‘grown up’ with kids, work, schedules and shit. Playing solo allows for daily practice and also to play the songs that no one else in the band would want to,” he laughs. “I’m recording a full-length album and should be done with it in a month or so. I’m recording with Chris Prescott, a San Diego Music legend. He plays drums for Pinback, No Knife, Rocket From The Crypt, etc. Best dude ever, and somehow has the patience and skill to make my crap sound good.”
“The goal is just to write and record more music and play live as much as possible,” continues Chris. “I expect for some people to like it. I expect for many people to hate it. I guess as long as there’s a reaction to it, and people actually hear it, that’s good with me. This is gonna sound odd, but the reason I release music, put videos of myself skating and surfing on my Instagram, etc, is to inspire people to do it themselves. I get a lot of joy from all this stuff and I’ll never stop.
“Writing songs is a great way to exercise negative and positive demons,” he adds. “I’ve been going through a dramatic break-up, and writing songs about the situation has been extremely cathartic. A lot of the songs I’ve written will never be played or performed, but man did they make me feel better at the time. Sometimes writing a song can be like purging, like emotional vomit. You feel so much better after you put it out into the universe.”
We’re pretty sure it felt pretty good to put this clip from Kelly’s Pool out into the universe, too.
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