Interview: Koyo's Joey Chiaramonte Returns to Talk "Drives Out East"


(Photo credit: Becca Lader)

Despite everything, it’s been a pretty big year for Koyo. More accurately - the Long Island band made the best of 2020 that they possibly could have. With the absence of the ability to tour, they still managed to promote themselves as a band by appearing at popups, playing acoustic sets online, and putting their name out there any way they could. In short, Koyo showed themselves as a band that was willing to go out and get it in any way possible. 

Most importantly they managed to quietly keep creating music. The product of that is their sophomore EP, Drives Out East, which will be dropping on July 6th on Triple B Records.

Vocalist Joey Chiaramonte is an always-welcome returning guest - you can read our first interview here, where we spoke more in-depth about their first EP, Painting Words into Lines, how the band formed, and all that good stuff. In case you need a musical recap, the band blends elements of melodic hardcore and classic emo, crediting influences like Silent Majority, Taking Back Sunday, The Movielife, Crime in Stereo, and so on.

In this interview, Joey and I focus on all the exciting new things Koyo has ahead of them this year - a weekend of record release shows, touring plans in the fall, as well as the creation and upcoming release of their second EP, Drives Out East.

AA: Introduce yourself with your name, what you do in the band, and a random fact about yourself.

JC: My name is Joey, I sing in Koyo, and I was on an episode of Celebrity Wife Swap when I was 15. 

AA: Last time we did an interview, it was for the debut of Painting Words into Lines, right before Covid hit - how have you felt about the reception the band’s gotten over the past year and half or so?

JC: Honestly floored with people’s response to the band. Very thankful people believe in it and fuck with it. We had no expectations from the jump, just an interest in making a certain type of music together. Anything since has been an unexpected and appreciated plus. 

AA: You just announced a signing with Triple B Records - which is huge, congrats! How did you end up linking with them to put out the record?

JC: Thank you! My friend Scanlon put us on Sam’s radar. Sam runs the label, him and I got in touch, and we’ve been grinding it out ever since. Appreciate both of them looking out for us immensely. 

AA: When we spoke about Painting Words into Lines, you mentioned that a lot of the lyrics were themed around the coming-of-age feelings you were dealing with as you transitioned into adulthood - what kind of things inspired your lyrics this time around?

JC: This record is way more current, in terms of my feelings. Obviously, the whole world just experienced/is experiencing a very traumatic period. The songs are not about Covid, but I wrote a lot about how bad this time made me feel. Frustrations with where I was at in life, things I’d see and hear people around me say and do, new pressures in my adult life that I still don’t want to even handle. It’s been a hard time, and I injected it all straight into this record. 

AA: Were there any new musical influences you guys tapped into on this EP?

JC: I think the core influences are largely the same, but we were more collaborative as a band with this release. TJ [Rotolico, guitar], Harold [Griffin, guitar], and myself are kind of the primary songwriters for the band, but everyone in the band had a hand in, grinded out, and had oversight in these songs in some way. I think that impacted the final product in a positive way. It wasn't really like that for Painting Words into Lines. 

AA: Koyo was featured at a handful of popups and hardcore flea markets over the pandemic. Do you think that the necessity for those has passed, or would you like to continue seeing them, even now that shows are back?

JC: I don’t think the necessity has passed, although I don’t think they’d be attended nearly as well as the pandemic-era ones were.  On Long Island, they’re always at Druthers Coffee in Stony Brook. That’s my home, and my shop, so if people are there slamming coffee and slinging shirts, I’ll be there too. 

AA: Speaking of shows - you just announced your release shows at AMH on August 20th and Shakers Pub August 22nd. How does it feel to get back into the swing of things?

JC: Exciting to a point where it’s almost stressful. We have a little lost time to make up for, so we’re trying our best to do it right. Very thankful for all the friends that are down to play alongside us at the record release shows. 

AA: On the first day, you’ll be playing with Shackled, Rule Them All, Stand Still, and Yesduke, and on the second day, Regulate, Life's Question, Soul Blind, Victory Garden, and Living Weapon.

How did you go about choosing the lineup for those shows?

JC: We wanted both shows to make sense in terms of the bands we’re playing with, but we wanted each one to have a different vibe. Day one at AMH leans more towards melodic bands and, well, sounding good. [laughs] Day two at Shakers is more for kids who wanna dance and go crazy. And, above all else, we wanted to show off how dope LI/the Northeast is for bands. I think we checked all those boxes. 

AA: In addition to being a part of Koyo, you’re also a member of Typecaste and Soul Provider, tour manager to Vein, promoter to many, and so on. Whether it’s with Vein or any of the bands you play in, will you be touring again anytime soon?

JC: Thankfully, Koyo has some touring plans for the fall. Otherwise, no concrete plans just yet. 

AA: What are some artists you’ve been listening to as of late?

JC: Yellow Stitches, Esthero, Freddie Gibbs, and Jon from Vein got me into Travis Scott recently. It’s lit. 

(Photo credit: Angie Aristodemo - A photo of the holy Druthers cup itself)

AA: Loaded question - where’s your favorite place to get coffee on Long Island? (feel free to give me a few spots if one is too hard)

JC: Druthers for sure, but I’m biased. Like I said, it’s my hometown spot, but I think Southdown is probably the best cup on the island, in my opinion. Both are baller.  [cosigned - Ed]

AA: Do you have any future Koyo plans you’d like to talk about that we didn’t cover?

JC: Unfortunately, nothing I can talk about yet, but there’s a lot going on in the fall for us that I’m really stoked on. 

AA: Any last words?

JC: Thanks for asking me to do this again, as well as always repping Koyo. Love to all my Stony Brook brothers, my family in Massachusetts, and anyone I might be forgetting. Drives Out East. 

As always, it’s a pleasure to talk to Joey about anything Koyo and LIHC. Drives Out East will be out July 6th - to make sure you don’t miss anything, check out their social media below: 

Twitter | Instagram | Bandcamp

Stream the singles "Diamond One" and "Moriches" on Spotify below.

EP tracklist:

1. Moriches

2. Since You Asked

3. Diamond One Feat. Life's Question

4. The World We Claim


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