Cold Equations Lead Singer Drew Kohl Shares How They Found Their Unique Sound

Finding yourself in the music industry is already a difficult task, but trying to find yourself amidst a traditional musical landscape with a heavy set of expectations is even more challenging. This is what Drew Kohl, the lead singer of indie-rock band Cold Equations learned during his time in Nashville. While an iconic place for country and folk music stars to flourish, Drew quickly felt restricted by these genres and started to experiment more with an alternative rock sound. Now, his experiences and influences have culminated in the formation of Cold Equations who are set to release their self-titled second album later this summer. With bittersweet, hazy melodies, lyrics interweaved with wordplay, and soft, enchanting vocals, Cold Equations has certainly found their sound and its something indie-rock fans are going to love.


Q. The first single you released for your new album “Identity Crisis” is about someone described as, “suddenly out of character,” with the twist that the singer is the one questioning his identity. How did you go about conveying such an intricate message in the song? 

A. It took me a long time to finish writing this song. It started with the guitar riffs and then the only lyric I had for a long time was “I don’t know who you are anymore.” I was interested in the feeling of alienation and strangeness you feel when someone you thought you knew acts out of character. I went through several drafts of the verses trying to build on that theme, but it took a long time to find something interesting. I wanted the verses to feel open and paint the theme loosely, instead of sticking to a strict narrative. The song sat around as an instrumental for a long time but then we started jamming on it as a band. I really wanted to play the song live at our next upcoming show so I was finally able to sit down and finish the verses and chorus. That kind of pressure is good sometimes to push a song to be finished. 


Q. One of the most interesting aspects of “Identity Crisis” is its layered/doubled effect which also helps illustrate the song’s deeper meanings. Talk about the importance of incorporating this musically. 

A. I wanted the music to create a sense of strangeness as well. The delayed/reverb guitars and spacey verses I thought would help convey that. We doubled the guitars so they’d sound big in the studio and I love the way the whole song explodes into the solo at the end.


Q. Your single “Eraser” utilizes metaphorical wordplay similar to “Identity Crisis.” What are some techniques you rely on for lyrical composition? 

A. I try to make the lyrics in the song revolve around a single theme. That way everything feels like it belongs and the verses talk to each other. With Eraser, I tried to use words related to the title. So the first lyric is “Trace the lines that draw me in.” Choosing verbs and nouns that are related help strengthen the main theme and tie everything together. I was an english major in college and I noticed writers would choose their words in this way. 


Q. When you came to Nashville in 2014 you immediately immersed yourself in the country and Americana scenes. What prompted you to shift to a more indie rock focus? 

A. I struggled for a long time trying to find my voice as a songwriter and singer. I never had much success as a folk songwriter and the genre started to feel very restrictive. I wasn’t able to use my electric guitar and incorporate instrumental sections and different tones/textures in my songs. I always loved indie rock music, Death Cab For Cutie, The Smiths, Sonic Youth, and The Replacements are some of my favorites. So I took a step back and started writing songs on my electric guitar which I was way more excited about. The first Cold Equations album, Ghost Town was the transition into our sound now on this upcoming album. I feel like this is the album and sound I’ve been wanting to create.

Q. You’ve toured with a lot of artists stemming from a variety of genres. What have they taught you about your own music? 

A. I’ve learned a lot but the biggest thing is to trust my own instincts especially as a writer. I’ve found that musicians who really make an impact are unique and they present their songs the way they hear them instead of letting everyone else tell you how it should be done (that tends to happen a lot in Nashville) My favorite artists are idiosyncratic and might not have traditional voices or styles but that’s what makes their music sound exciting and alive.


Q. If you could encompass some of the themes of your upcoming album, what would they be? 

A. It’s hard for me to say, I always just focus on one song at a time and don’t really think of the big overarching themes. Alienation, I think, is a theme in a few songs (Identity Crisis, Eraser, In The Cart, Best For You). The sense of being somewhere you aren’t welcome, or struggling to make a meaningful connection with someone. But the record covers a few different moods, there are brighter songs like Hanging By A Thread and Set The Boy Free that are more endearing pop songs. 

Q. What are some of the themes that Cold Equations as a band tries to tackle musically and professionally?

A. I haven’t spent much time thinking of a big picture with the band. The overall idea behind this band was to have an outlet to create exciting music that was fun to perform with my friends. John (Bass) and Ryan (Drums) are incredible guys to jam and arrange songs with. Their ideas and musicianship made these songs way cooler than anything I could come up with on my own. I spent years as a solo artist on stage by myself and it just wasn’t very fun. It’s a lot more fun creating music with people you like and all feeling excited about what you’re making together.

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