Post-Rock As A Second Language

by | Mar 2, 2020 | MUSIC

Colin Phils formed in South Korea and released an album while living in China, but over the past four years, they’ve made Richmond their home. Now they’re releasing Trust/Fall, their first full album as an RVA band.

Richmond rockers Colin Phils, who will release their new album, Trust/Fall, later this month, have been performing and releasing music in Richmond for the past four years. But, their origins actually reach back a long time ago, to a country far, far away.

The band had its humble beginnings in 2013, when all three members of the band were working in South Korea, teaching English as a second language. While the group was initially formed by guitarist and vocalist Ben Tiner and two others, over time Tiner replaced them with the band’s current lineup: married couple Ben and Karyn Mauch (on drums and synth/vocals, respectively). Oddly enough, while all three worked teaching English, Karyn was the only one who majored in the language during college.

“All you really need to teach English in a foreign country is you need to get a certificate. We all got that in the first month,” said Tiner. “It’s easy money, they pay for housing. It’s kind of an ideal job to get after college.”

The band stayed in Korea until 2015. During that time, they made their first album Right at Home. However, they all quickly found that Korea offered no room for personal or professional growth. At that point, they moved to China, where they crafted their second album, e,r,som,sa. Eventually, in 2016, they moved to Richmond, and have been making music in the river city ever since.

Since they’ve been here, they’ve had firsthand experience with the differences between making music in Asia and in America.

“The biggest difference [between East and West] is that far less people come to our shows in America,” said Tiner.

“Yeah, but in America there are so many more bands and musicians, and the China scene is still young,” Karyn added. “When we play here, even though there’s fewer people, we’ll be playing with four bands every night who are all REALLY good… Whereas in China, it’ll be just two bands a night. And you may enjoy it, you may not.”

The band’s sounds have progressed over the years, moving from an early sound that they described as being much closer to folk, with a much more devil-may-care approach to writing and recording. 

“The first album was recorded in one weekend,” said Tiner. “We got in a studio…and just recorded the whole thing at once. Which would be a crazy thing to do now.”

Since then, the band has moved towards a post-rock sound, utilizing loops and odd time signatures to construct their songs. They take no breaks from touring to write new music, instead sprinkling new tracks into their sets over time, until they’ve come up with enough to fashion into an album. Their recording style has also evolved; now their approach is much more traditional, recording and rerecording specific parts over a long period of time until they’ve refined the whole song as much as they can.

“I don’t think we’re very rigid,” said Karyn. “I think if we feel like something needs to be changed, we’ll change it. We’ll add something, we’ll take away something.”

This process has been helped along for their newest album by Mitch Clem, an Engineer at Go West Recording Studio.

“We’ve definitely altered stuff in the studio based off of his recommendations,” said Tiner. “And that’s the benefit of having somebody you trust in the studio to offer advice.”

Though the band has released a split LP, Star Charts, with fellow Richmond band Houdan The Mystic, Trust/Fall will be their first full album since they arrived in RVA. The album will be released on March 20 by Post.Recordings, and the band will celebrate its release with a performance at Gallery 5 on Saturday, March 21. The event begins at 7 PM and will also feature performances by Night Idea, Dumb Waiter, and Calvin Presents. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite for $7 in advance — or, for $12, you can get both a ticket and a copy of Trust/Fall on CD. For more info, click here.

Jonah Schuhart

Jonah Schuhart

Jonah Schuhart is a Senior Broadcast Journalism Student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Jonah hopes to use his work to spread goodwill and a positive message. Despite this healthy outlook, he survives solely on a destructive diet of Japanese action games and Cheetos.

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