Locals Only: Karate Coyote

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Weighing memories to find an older version of our lives

It's what we do in the meantime

- Karate Coyote, "Meantime"

The old saying goes that your real education doesn't start until after you finish school. The real world has its own set of lessons about who you really are and what it takes to survive.

Throughout the course of their band, the six members of Karate Coyote found themselves in that familiar quarterlife-crisis phase.

"I write a lot about not knowing what the f--- is going on in your life," said Ryan Horn, who plays guitar and keyboards and sings for the pop-rock sextet.

When the time came to record their debut full-length, the band realized that as a musical unit, they were in a similar spot. After two years of creative gestation, it was time to focus and pare down their oeuvre. What would this band sound like going forward?

Their twentysomething lives remain in flux, but at least for 12 tracks they've come to a sonic consensus. "Inner Animals" drops Friday at a joint CD release party with Stretch Lefty at Skully's.

"We've written a lot of different-sounding songs, a lot of different genres almost," singer Sam Corlett said. "On the record, you can kind of see the whole picture of how we've developed from when we first started playing until now."

Since assembling in 2007, the band has operated under a collaborative model. One person originates an idea, but everybody gets their fingerprints on it before the final product emerges. Thus, they've been down plenty of stylistic rabbit trails. Still, a signature sound has come to fruition, and it's readily apparent from the songs they've chosen to include on "Inner Animals."

Come close enough and you'll catch a whiff of '90s alt-rockers like Foo Fighters and Velocity Girl. Math-rock time signature trickery hides behind singalong melodies. There are traces of modern indie-rock touchstones like Broken Social Scene, a similarly sprawling, collaborative band Karate Coyote has always looked to as a model.

The influence is particularly apparent in the three-way vocal interplay between Corlett, Horn and Kendra Jados, a combination that's also more than a little reminiscent of the B-52s.

On "Inner Animals," that's all wrapped up in compressed guitars and studio sheen courtesy of Central City Recording's Andrew Dodson, who served as a producer on the project. Horn said the band wanted to have an outside voice to help set direction and make crunch-time decisions.

"He's a friend of ours," Horn said. "He had been there. He had seen us grow."

Growth remains a priority for the group. After Friday's show they hope to seek out a record label and play out of town as much as possible. They also want to build on the radio success of "So Far So Good," one of CD101's top-requested songs of 2009.

"We're trying to find a way," Corlett said, "to keep moving up."

E-mail your local music news to Chris DeVille at cdeville@columbusalive.com

When: 10 p.m. Friday, March 26

Where: Skully's Music Diner, Short North

Web: karatecoyote.com