Coby and the Prisoners Break Free on Lead Off Album Teaser Track “I Don’t Wanna Know”
It’s got the jangly, Byrds-esque sound of the West Coast, but the melody sounds very much like an early Wilco songs. It’s got synthesizers and affected guitar, but the backbone is an acoustic shuffle. Hartzler is able to brilliantly gather his influences into one endearing pop song.
One of the greatest things about the internet age is that genres and sounds travel. An East Coast band without the means to tour can still influence a kid on the West Coast. For Coby Hartzler, growing up in small town in Ohio has not deterred him from making music that sounds equal parts West Coast and Rust-Belt.
“I Don’t Even Wanna Know,” Hartzler’s most recent single from his project Coby and the Prisoners, is a song about casting off the shackles of growing up in a very religious small town. Coby says, “Everything was dependent on what you do now and how it will affect your eternity. This song is about letting that go and being present with someone you love.” And the song’s music perfectly matches that attempt to break free of those chains. It’s got the jangly, Byrds-esque sound of the West Coast, but the melody sounds very much like an early Wilco song. It’s got synthesizers and affected guitar, but the backbone is an acoustic shuffle. Hartzler is able to brilliantly gather his influences into one endearing pop song.
We were fortunate enough to ask Hartzler a few questions:
– In the song, one of the lines that repeats is “I just need a friend.” Do you think there’s a particular loneliness to living in a small town in America?
I don’t know if there is any more loneliness in a small town than living anywhere else…maybe a few less options for things to do. I think the reference in the song is about how being a friend to someone is maybe the most important thing we can do or what people need. Genuine connection and care. Growing up in the christian religion, they were constantly telling you what you were doing wrong, or how you should be living, and it was often cleverly disguised as “being your friend”. But it in the end those people don’t really stick around, especially if you leave their bubble.
– What was the recording process like for this song?
This one came together pretty quick. It’s one of those songs where anything that needs to be done to it or added feels pretty obvious. It didn’t stray too far from the original demo. The drums and bass were tracked live to tape. I worked with Alex Kerchaval and Tyler Watkins, who have become my go-to engineer and collaborators at Postal Recording in Indianapolis. Alex added some pretty great keyboard parts and a nice bass line. I wish all songs came together as easily as this one.
– I think the lyrics to this song find the perfect balance between narrative and imagery. How do you keep that balance in your songs?
I think with all my songs I somewhat steer away from narrative writing. Or at least I try to leave enough out of the song that the listener can kind of fill in on their own. There are lots of great storyteller songwriters, but every time I go that route, it seems to fail, or I’m just not happy with it. I think I try to capture the feel of a story or an idea more than tell the story.
– Got any advice to other small town musicians looking to navigate music scenes in the 21st century?
Well I’m still in a small town, and never made the move so I’m probably not one to ask. But there seems to be pros and cons to both. My wife and I still talk about moving to a city someday, so If I ever do, I’ll get back to you.