A year ago, Austin’s Los Coast released their debut album, Samsara, on New West Records—the label that’s also home to Texans such as Steve Earle, Robert Ellis, and the Texas Gentlemen. While they earned that record deal on the back of buzz they generated from a string of sold-out shows at Austin’s C-Boys Heart & Soul and a high-profile booking at Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2016, the album’s release—and tour dates opening for Lukas Nelson, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Gary Clark Jr., and Black Pumas—represented their first real look at how touring, radio play, and press works on a national level.
“It was a huge learning experience,” says front man Trey Privott, who founded the band with multi-instrumentalist John Courtney. “I always thought about it as if releasing the first album was some kind of huge accomplishment in itself. Now I recognize it as merely an entry point.”
Although the pandemic cut short their 2020 touring plans, last month, in the wake of the protests against racism and brutality, Los Coast teamed up with Gary Clark Jr. for a cover of the 1964 Sam Cooke classic “A Change Is Gonna Come” to benefit DAWA, a hometown nonprofit safety net for people of color who are experiencing short-term life crises. Privott says it’s too soon to know for sure what’s next: he’s been using quarantine to write the band’s sophomore album, but also can’t be sure they’re done touring for their debut.
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“I think there’re a weird transformation going on in the music industry since nobody knows when live performances can come back,” Privott says. “It used to be you’d make an album and then tour on it and start again. And now, nobody knows if that cycle still works, so everyone is learning as we go along.”
In our Sound Check, recorded in Privott’s backyard, Los Coast performs “Monsters” from Samsara and “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
You can find previous editions of our latest season of Sound Check—featuring performances from Sarah Jarosz, Sir Woman, David Ramirez, and Charley Crockett—at texasmonthly.com/videos.