Interview: The Coffis Brothers Talk Music and Santa Cruz Ahead of Jan 27 Show at Slim’s


2015 was a big year for The Coffis Brothers, folky-blues rockers from the Santa Cruz mountains. They played with some of their musical heros and at venerable local venues like The Fillmore. We can look forward to an even bigger 2016 and they are kicking off the year at Slim’s Wednesday January 27th with Roem Baur. Grab tickets here.

Unsurprisingly at the core of The Coffis Brothers are brothers Jamie Coffis (keys & vocals) and Kellen Coffis (guitar & vocals). They are also joined by Kyle Poppen on guitar, Aidan Collins slappin da bass and Henry Chadwick with drums and vocals. Most of the band has been playing together since 2010 so you can expect some real chemistry.

If you can’t make the show at Slim’s catch the guys in Sacramento at the Torch Club February 12th or Smileys in Bolinas on February 13th. They also said they are booking studio time in January and February to work on their third full length album.

I asked Jamie Coffis a few questions to get some insight on what makes these guys go. Check out the interview below:

SFCritic: I try not to force bands to fit in any one genre, how do you describe your music to people?

Coffis Brothers: My initial answer to that question is always “Rock and Roll.” Unfortunately that doesn’t usually doesn’t paint enough of a picture for most people so I usually continue to say something like, folk, blues, classic rock. Rock and Roll is still my favorite term and I think it describes our music accurately and concisely.

SFC: I can definitely hear a lot of Tom Petty in your music, especially songs like “I Ain’t Leavin.” Who are some of the acts you grew up listening to?

CB: Tom Petty was probably the single biggest influence on us of one single artist but we were exposed to a lot of great music growing up. Certainly the Beatles were huge. Neil Young, Ray Charles, Buddy Holly, The Everly Brothers, and E.L.O. all made great impressions early on in our listening career as well. Of course there were many others, those seem to come to mind first though.

SFC: Santa Cruz seems to have a knack for producing acts that are able to take older forms of americana, folk and blues and create a new sound. The Devil Makes Three comes to mind. Do you think there is anything inherent to Santa Cruz that gives birth to groups like The Coffis Brothers?

CB: Very hard to say. In our case I would mainly attribute it to a couple of hippies moving here in the 70s having kids in the mid to late 80’s and then heavily influencing their musical tastes as they grow up. A more thoughtful explanation might be that we grew up in the San Lorenzo Valley in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and there’s definitely something old about the area. I would agree that it attracts a certain community of people. A community which has been very supportive of our band since early on and you could theorize that our music and bands similar to us have had a special appeal to those people. Either that or its something in the water. (or the pot!)

SFC: What are some other bands from Santa Cruz or the larger Bay Area that we should keep an eye on?

CB: The McCoy Tyler Band from Santa Cruz have become our musical BFF’s and we had the pleasure of sharing the stage with them recently. McCoy sat in on a couple of tunes with us on guitar. I was situated very close to his amp on stage and got quite an earful of his playing and was pretty amazed at how much he continues to improve. I really love his band and his playing. Other than that, Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orchestra are making some pretty strong moves lately, really touring heavily, Scary Little Friends in San Francisco are coming out with new music in the near future and they’re good friends of ours, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our drummer Henry Chadwick has formed a band with his own new material where he will be singing and playing guitar. He’s enlisted Aidan and Kyle as well and quite ridiculously they are calling themselves Battlesnake. (Editors note: I love the name Battlesnake) They will be played their first show this weekend in Santa Cruz at The Crepe Place (1/16). He’ll be releasing new recordings at some point as well.

SFC: One last fun one, which group or groups would you most like to tour with in 2016?

CB: We got to play with a lot of great acts last year that we really admire and would love to play with any of them again. Jackie Greene, Lukas Nelson, and The Mother Hips are a few of our favorites that we got to play with in 2015, and we would jump at the chance to do so again. We also got to play with The Dirty Knobs who are fronted by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers‘ Mike Campbell and that was one of the biggest thrills we’ve ever had, they don’t generally play all that much but we keep a very close eye on their calendar.

As far as bands that we have yet to play with, Delta Spirit and John Fullbright are two acts I’m personally very fond of and have seen each put on great shows on multiple occasions. I would really love to share the stage with either of them at some point.

And as long as we’re on the subject, we might as well just go on tour with Tom Petty or Neil Young for obvious reasons and what the hell, why not have Taylor Swift take us on the road while we’re at it. Perhaps not exactly the demographic we’re looking to target but I bet the backstage spread is amazing.