- Working on Mozart’s rarely played “Concerto for Eight Hands”
It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon in late July and Tony Cross and Pat O’Connor are relaxing at their West 117th Street headquarters. They’re reminiscing about eight years of playing music in the Cleveland rock quartet Coffinberry (while drinking champagne spritzers and Bloody Marys), talking about blasting out fuzzy rock grooves at breakneck speeds with their best buds.
“We’re all better friends at this point than we are members of the band,” says drummer Cross. “Back when we started, I was always amazed at bands that weren’t friends. If they were friends, they weren’t close friends; they just met to practice. I never wanted it to be like that. I wanted it to just be buddies getting together to play.”
Coffinberry were inseparable for nearly a decade — buddies, band, roommates, and partners in crime. When the four pals weren’t out playing at local bars, they were always hanging at this very house on West 117th Street, where they’ve all lived for six years (Tony’s brother and singer-guitarist Nick Cross and guitarist Tony Janicek included). Practicing and often recording in the mini-studio in the basement, the band made three albums, two EPs, and two seven-inch vinyl singles of excellent indie rock — a mixture of low-fi garage, high-spirited R&B, and real-gone acoustic roots.
But times are changing. As Janicek prepares to move to Portland, Oregon, the group is playing its final show this weekend. “We thought about maybe keeping going and finding someone else, but it wouldn’t be the same,” says bassist O’Connor. “We’ve released half a dozen records, played a lot of shows, and toured the country. We’ve been doing this since 2001. It seems like it’s run its course.”
But before the band calls it quits, the guys have prepared a parting gift for fans and friends: a final album, Adult Situations. It’s their loudest, most raucous set of barroom bruisers yet — a simultaneously sentimental and smartass sort of farewell.
“Some of the lyrics are about things ending — relationships and friendships and transitions — which is why I like the title,” says Tony Cross. “[It’s] something [you hear] when you’re younger, and someone tells you, ‘Hey, this is really an adult situation.’”