This February New York indie pop duo Overcoats (JJ Mitchell and Hana Elion) brought a preview of their third LP, Winner, to The Music Hall at World Café Live for a WXPN Free at Noon Concert. Well, the album officially dropped April 7th, and Mitchell and Elion are already returning to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection! Overcoats will be bringing a full-length concert to Johnny Brenda’s this coming Tuesday, 4/25, on the second night of their US tour, which kicks off on Monday in Boston. I recently got a chance to chat with the band about their latest album and what can be expected on Tuesday night in our favorite “mini rock n’ roll ballroom.”
Izzy Cihak: Since this is a Philadelphia publication, I’m curious if you have any thoughts on the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection? You’ve played here a handful of times. I saw you twice in 2018, opening for Tennis and Mitski, respectively, and you just played a WXPN Free at Noon at World Café Live.
Overcoats: WE LOVE PHILLY. Hana’s family is from Lower Merion. Eagles fans and everything. Go birds.
Izzy: You just released your third album, Winner. Have you had any favorite reactions to the new music so far?
Overcoats: Honestly, releasing an album feels a bit like shouting into the void. We’re very excited for tour, so that we can connect with fans and get a sense of how the music is reacting.
Izzy: You worked with a lot of really cool people on the album, including producer Daniel Tashian, in addition to Jackson Phillips and Nick Lobel, and songwriters Trent Dabbs, Kate York, and Mike Malchicoff. What do you feel like they all brought to your sound, whether collectively or individually?
Overcoats: We wanted to bring an Americana sound to this new record. Making it in Nashville and working with a lot of Nashville based musicians was really amazing because we got to tap into the musical worlds they inhabit while still putting our own spin on it.
Izzy: This was your first album that you released on your own imprint, right? How was putting it all together on your own, without a label?
Overcoats: Yes! It was honestly really hard. But having creative control couldn’t be more important. There is so much noise out there these days that it’s important to be the most uniquely you that you can be. And dictating all aspects of the process allowed us to make sure everything had integrity.
Izzy: Feel free to consult your phones or computers for this one, but do you happen to have any favorite third albums of music history? If you need any help getting the ball rolling, The Smiths’ The Queen is Dead, Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine, and Tegan and Sara’s If It Was You are definitely some of my favorite “third albums.”
Overcoats: Internal Wrangler by Clinic, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Any Party by Feist!
Izzy: You’ve already released a number of really cool music videos for tracks from the album, most recently “New Suede Shoes.” I totally love a good single-shot video! How did the idea for that video come about?
Overcoats: We decided to try and do all of the videos as one-shots. This album (and especially the song “New Suede Shoes”) have a spontaneous carefree energy to them and we wanted to capture some of that in the visuals. All of the videos try to point to juxtapositions of time and space (feeling out of place, feeling too old or too young, etc).
Izzy: You’re just about to kick off a US tour and you’re playing a somewhat wide variety of venues, including some barrooms, some big nightclubs, some places that seem like listening rooms, and even a bowling alley. Do you have a particular favorite kind of setting to play, or things that you think make a venue especially enjoyable to play?
Overcoats: We love playing anywhere and everywhere as long as the crowd is fun and down to have a good evening with us. We feel like our sound works in many different rooms— smaller venues showcase our vocals nicely, while bigger rooms allow us to dance and really rock out. So, we’re excited just to be back on the road, doing our thing.
Izzy: What can be expected of the live show when you’re here at Johnny Brenda’s next week, for the second night of the tour?
Overcoats: We played Johnny Brenda’s back in 2017 when we toured our first album YOUNG and the show was amazing— such a good crowd (Philly always is…) We’ll be playing all the hits, favorites from album 1 and 2 and then a ton of songs from our new record!
Izzy: I know you’re going to be playing these East Coast dates with Halima, who I also really dig. How did you get hooked up with her, and what are your thoughts on her sounds?
Overcoats: We got connected to Halima (she came highly recommended) by one of Hana’s mentors—a songwriting professor at NYU. We love her songs and the energy of her performances and videos. We think our fans are really going to like her as well.
Izzy: Finally, what do you have planned for this summer?
Overcoats: We will be announcing more shows this summer and continuing to work on the visual world that accompanies this album — so look out for more one-shot videos soon.
*Get your tickets here.