After a seven-year layoff, Envy On The Coast’s reincarnation is in full swing with original members Ryan Hunter and Brian Byrne at the helm and steering the band in a new direction. The rebirth ultimately came to be after the duo performed together for an encore at a show for Ryan’s solo project, 1ST VOWS. The reception from their dedicated fans and the feeling that engulfed them on the stage was the catalyst to exploring what the next phase for Envy On The Coast could, and would be. While simultaneously working on a full-length album targeted to drop next year, the band has dug up some old material that they’ve injected new life into for their latest EP “Ritual” set to drop Friday.
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Sean Ritchie: I want to touch on your home state of New York, specifically Long Island, first. Where on the island did you live and what was it like to grow up there? What would you suggest a first-time visitor to do when on the island?
Ryan Hunter: I grew up on Long Island about 45 minutes from The City in a town called Merrick, then I moved to Long Beach. It’s a beach community and I lived there for about two years before I moved out here to [Los Angeles]. It’s interesting to grow up on the island, culturally there’s not a lot about it that binds me to that place, other than figuring out who I was and feeling like I didn’t belong there.
What I do love about Long Island, and still do to this day, is the geographical stuff about it. I would say to anybody visiting there to head to the beach — the North Shore. Those are the aspects of Long Island that I miss sometimes. That was the stuff that I grew up loving, even though we have that out here in California.
SR: You have an interesting perspective having lived on both coasts. What are some of the things that differentiate both sides of the country?
RH: Going off the stuff I was just talking about, it seems like California does a lot more to preserve, protect and place emphasis on the nature here. They really do a lot to coexist amongst wildlife here. It was very frustrating for me living on Long Island in that respect.
When I moved down to Long Beach I really wanted to be closer to the water, because I surf. That was important to me. I realized very quickly that the town itself was way more focused on business, there really wasn’t much respect for the ocean and the beach itself. There was just garbage everywhere, all the time. There were constant events that just polluted the hell out of the beach. It was really just all about money.
Whereas, I feel here in California there’s a lot more of a balance to that. There’s also a lot more nature out here to explore. It doesn’t seem like it was taken for granted as much out here. It makes me feel a lot better being out here.
SR: That’s pretty interesting to hear. To rewind a little, how did you first get exposed to music? What was your initial inspiration? Was it something that you grew up around?
RH: I definitely grew up around music. My dad raised me on a lot of great records, a lot of early Motown and soul stuff. I didn’t really have much rock music in the house when I was very young. My dad grew up in east New York and I would say most of his influences were in soul music. I just always took interest to it as a kid. I asked my parents for a drum kit when I was eight or nine years old. I started on drums, but I always wanted to pick up everything.
I think it was because I wanted to write songs and I didn’t have a lot of people around me that were into music, so I bounced from instrument to instrument. I played guitar around 12, I got one Stratocaster because of Jimi Hendrix. I would then write little songs on this dual-cassette, karaoke machine that I had. I discovered punk rock from there, met some kids through that and started a band. It just kind of all snowballed from there.
SR: Sweet, now tie that into Envy On The Coast. How did you form and decide what kind of music you wanted to play? Was it based off of your early exposures?
RH: I think it all happened pretty naturally. When we first started we were five people that came from very different places musically. Brian [Byrne] and I are the two original members that are still with it. We were both similar, because of the music we listened to growing up. There were a lot of hooks and melodies in the stuff we listened to. Our sound was definitely derived from that, but we always had a songwriting foundation. We never will be the type of band that puts out the same record twice. Whenever we put out new music we want to do the opposite of what we just did.
SR: I’m always a fan of bands that, I don’t want to say reinvent themselves, but ones that test new waters. So, that’s cool to hear you guys have that in mind. I want to bring this all into your new EP “Ritual” coming out Friday. I listened to your “Manic State Park” track, and I dig it. Touch on the EP as a whole, and the thought process around that track.
RH: The EP as a whole is this weird experiment that we had in the sense that we put together and demoed probably about 30 songs seven years ago, just after the band ended. We thought at the time we were writing what would become our next project together, but we faced the fact that it was going to be the next Envy On The Coast record.
We just decided to go onto other things and the material just sat. We completely forgot about them, and then we did this reincarnation of the band, doing shows for the first time in seven years. Some close friends of ours then asked if we were going to dig up the old material. We were just like, “Oh my god! I totally forgot that existed.”
We went back to it and found that some of it was really great. It was an interesting sort of time capsule sort of thing. It was probably the last batch of material that was going to sound like this. We thought that we would do it as sort of this gift to the fans where we would reproduce it with our seven added years of knowledge. We’re simultaneously working on new, new material for a full-length album, but this feels like a gift to the fans for us. It was just this thing that they were supposed to have, but didn’t get.
“Manic State [Park]” is definitely an interesting one. Listening to the demo and the finished produce was interesting, because Brian learned a lot of things over the last year with his guitar playing that wouldn’t have been on the original track. I think it gives a bedrock to the song. It’s special to me in that sense.
SR: It sounds like it really is a passion project. That’s cool to hear. Now, tying this into travel, I know you said you like to surf, do you have a favorite surf trip that you took?
RH: Absolutely! Well, it’s out of the continental United States, I surfed Hawaii when I was really young. I wasn’t very good at the time, but it was still amazing. This past summer I went up to record vocals on an EP I was working on up in Portland. I decided to drive instead of fly up, so I did the 16-hour drive by myself and my Jeep. I just brought nothing but my bags and my surfboard. I just took the [Pacific Coast Highway] all the way up. I’ve done Big Sur a bunch, it’s tough because it’s so remote, but I love it there. I wanted to surf under the Golden Gate on the way back down, but I didn’t have time. That’s a spot I’ve always wanted to hit. Watching the guys drop in there is incredible. California has so much to offer in the way of surf.
SR: A lot of people I talk to say that driving down PCH is insane. Lastly, looking internationally, do you have three countries that you have marked off on a bucket list per say?
RH: Number one for me is South Africa. I have some friends that are from there. They’ve told me so much about cape town and South Africa. I would love to go back to Japan. That was one of my favorite trips I’ve ever done. I really want to go to Thailand, as well. I would say those are the three biggest places on my list that I want to get to. Costa Rica is a close fourth too.