(Meet the Coffin Dodgers: Flip Hastings, Bass; Ian Michalski, Vocals; Patrick Conley, Guitar, and a man named Tony on the drums.— Images provided.)
1120 Press: Thank you, guys, for chatting with us. Catch us up on what's happening with the Coffin Dodgers right now. We were told you guys are in the process of writing. How’s that going, and who are your influences?
FLIP HASTINGS: As we’re putting the final touches on our live show, we’re working on some new music that we’ll start to plug into our set list. A majority of our focus at this point is booking, stocking merch, and tweaking production. The collaboration on new material has been incredible. I think there’s somewhat of a duality in this band that drives the creativity. Some of us have some hardcore influences and others that have more melodic tendencies.
IAN MICHALSKI: I’ve been writing in one form or another for 30 years. I have a vast archive of songs that I’ve written. My influences are Barenaked Ladies, They Might Be Giants, and Moxy Fruvous and now that I have an outlet for these melodies, vocals and lyrics, I’m very excited to start working on this new material for the band and the reaction from our audience.
1120: There’s mention on your social media that you’re preparing for an “aggressive schedule” of shows. Can you expand on that? What’s the plan and when will you be hitting stages?
FLIP: Our show schedule this summer will be rather short and sweet. We plan on supporting our old friends Virus X, and then knocking out a half-dozen shows before heading back to our home studio to work on new material over the winter. Our first show will take place in June; working on some details now so I can’t make an official statement, but we’re ready to make some noise.
IAN: Yeah, very exciting stuff. Can’t wait to get out there and mix it up, but we’ve got a little bit of work to do.
1120: Take us back to how the band started: How did you guys find each other? And, what’s everyone’s history in terms of past bands, etc… Have any of you been involved in the local scene at any point?
FLIP: When I moved back to WNY in April 2022, I had reached out to my old bandmates in Virus X and they suggested playing a couple of our old tunes together. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to put my own band together. That’s when I started posting ads on Facebook and Bandmix for a drummer and guitar player. I was lucky enough to find Ian through a mutual friend. It was important that whoever was going to front this band was familiar with engaging with audiences and being the center of attention.
IAN: I became involved when I saw a post on a Facebook group for WNY actors. I don’t come into this band with a musical background, but I’ve been singing all my life. I bring a theatrical sensibility to being the frontman for this band.
FLIP: Patrick Conley, our guitar player, was discovered on BandMix. I reached out and asked if he would like to audition and we immediately bonded over our shared love for hardcore. One of my favorite bands is The Rebel Spell and I asked Patrick to provide a recording of ‘I am a Rifle.’ He absolutely crushed it. He’s played in a variety of bands including the hardcore band, Merauder, from NYC.
IAN: Where did Tony come from?
FLIP: Honestly, not sure. We like to just say ‘parts unknown.’ He’s here now and we’re ecstatic to have him. His style of playing is extraordinary, and the result is absolutely fierce. It’s an interesting story.
1120: Going back to your social media, words like “geezer” and “AARP-eligible” are used. And the name ‘Coffin Dodger’ is essentially slang for ‘old person near death.’ We’re assuming the terms are being used with some sense of humor, but age also seems to be a factor on some level. Can you address that, and how that issue influences the band, its approach and attitude?
FLIP: That’s my British humor. But it was also a useful tool when looking for bandmates. It was important for me that the band was made up of Gen X musicians who still have plenty of fight. We have plenty to be pissed off about, that’s evident in our new material, but our direction and our drive is more focused, more measured.
IAN: I’m a firm believer in the idea that you’re only as old as you feel. As long as you can still get on stage and rock — doesn’t matter.
FLIP: I think we’ve seen a lot of our favorite bands doing that this past year: Social Distortion, Misfits, Anti-Flag, Green Jello — still killing it.
1120: So, if there was one, what would the mission statement be for the band?
FLIP: Damn. That’s a tough one.
IAN: Dark music for dark times.
FLIP: Ha! I would say, ‘The Coffin Dodgers mission is to challenge the norms, buck the odds, defy conformity, and never stop fighting for our rightful place on the marquee.’
1120: Is there anything else you want to add that we haven’t asked?
IAN: I think there is something to be said about the energy and drive behind this band and our music. I don’t think you have to be into punk to feel it either.
FLIP: Yeah, Patrick and I lean toward hardcore influences like Face to Face and Gorilla Biscuits, and I think that intensity is underscored by Tony’s drumming, which is something to see and hear. But Ian’s background in theater definitely adds some needed melody and vitality. I believe people will want to get up and get in the pit. The word that comes to mind when I think about our set is ‘fierce’. The bar is set pretty high.