They claim there’s an accordion. But multiple forensic listens reveal no such polka-adjacent sound on WNXP Nashville Artist of the Month COIN’s new single “Brad Pitt.” What’s indisputably there are beats and bass, synthesized quirks and layer upon layer of fearlessly catchy vocals.
“Brad Pitt” is pop in 3D with COIN frontman Chase Lawrence’s voice acting as the bouncing ball that jumps through the screen. From the floating “ba-da-bas” that kick off the track to the distorted falsettos that kick it in, Lawrence and co-producer Julian Bunetta use the vocals to push melody into all corners of the recording. The new single follows on the heels of “Chapstick,” COIN’s most successful radio hit to date, which signaled a new era for a band that’s been at it for nearly a decade.
“Brad Pitt” moves COIN even further from guitar-based indie pop, in ways that mirror how Maroon 5 went from the jam-pop periphery to being a more sophisticated and ambitious brand of band.
That more polished sonic stamp is evident on all the songs released from the forthcoming Uncanny Valley so far but “Brad Pitt” had humble origins — just two minor chords and a drum loop. Then they sent the demo to Bunetta.
Lawrence: “He took my drums out. He put an accordion, which…”
Guitarist Joe Memmel interjects: “Dude, when that accordion was picked up in the studio, I about walked out. But it worked!”
“It almost makes me mad,” Lawrence laughs. “[Bunetta] started showing me ‘The biggest songs have accordions in them.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t like you and I think you need to leave.”
“It still felt like a joke to this moment,” drummer Ryan Winnen adds.
With the band still skeptical, Lawrence says Bunetta set up a mini-studio in the hallway outside of the main recording room where COIN was working armed with just a laptop and that accordion. That was when the entire feel of the track changed. As Lawrence puts it, Bunetta started going “J Dilla on it,” referencing the legendary hip-hop producer, cutting up loops and vinyl samples and laying the track way back.
While Lawrence says the approach initially made him cringe, he admits that the push and pull helped better tell the concept of the song. The idea was to explore how we can age gracefully in an era where everyone can hide behind a screen. Lawrence says the beat helps reveal one possible solution: “leaning back and just letting it happen.”
And as for borrowing a movie star’s name for the title?
“Have you seen that man’s face?!” Memmel says laughing.
“He’s an image of youth, but somehow also possesses just that wisdom and those eyes that tell a story,” Winnen ponders. “That’s how I view him.”
Lawrence says that Pitt’s name conjures up collective images of “possessing” youth and “eternal relevance,” and concedes that it could have been named Tom Brady instead. Lawrence proved that point when he made a loop of the song and its chorus hook, “Keep me young forever,” paired with what he described as a “haunting” Tom Brady meme that showed the NFL star seeming to age in reverse over the course of his decades-defying career.
The band mates say making “Brad Pitt” was “probably the hardest time” they’ve had finishing a track. Parts were deleted. Sections were trimmed, and within weeks of releasing the record, they still weren’t sure it was a fit.
But Winnen says they “learned a lot” from the process. It’s now one of his favorite “sonic expressions,” one that “still somehow sounds like what I like about our band.”
Lawrence agrees and adding that while it was scary, “those are the things worth doing.”