There are coincidences and then there are coincidences. The kind of eerie, make-the-hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-stand-up coincidences that cause you to do a double take and then force you to realize that the universe has plans for you beyond your control and that some things are just meant to be.
That happened with Park Lane when they unearthed new vocalist Carley Coma, who sings on their full-length, the pulse-pounding, sticks-in-your-head-for-days Letters From the Fire.
Carley Coma made quite a name for himself in the late '90s and early '00s by singing for Candiria, a groundbreaking neo-jazz-metal fusion band and one of Rolling Stone magazine's top 10 Best Metal Bands. Hailing from the streets of Brooklyn New York, Candiria were pretty much revered in the metal scene for their genre-bending ways. The core members of Park Lane, who are all based in the Bay Area, were not familiar with Carley's prior work in Candiria and they did not seek him out because of it. In fact, they received an enormous amount of applications for their vocal vacancy, but none were the correct fit. Then they heard (and met) Carley Coma.
The chemistry was instant. The personal connection was quick and easy, while the professional and musical connection needed about 30 seconds to develop, as melodies spilled out the singer on the spot and songs essentially wrote themselves. More on that in a moment, but all of those crucial factors were not the only reason that Park Lane knew he was the one.
Carley recalls, "There is a song on the album called "A Lonely Shade of Red" and they sent it to me to write the lyrics. Without knowing, I wrote the same first line of the song that the old singer had for the song." No, he's not kidding. "I could have written the song about anything but on top of that to have the same words, it was extremely weird.”
Creepy coincidences aside, with Park Lane and Letters From the Fire, the two American coasts and many genres collide in a combustible cocktail of music that you can't shake from your brain. The record was produced by Michael Rosen (Papa Roach, Tesla, AFI) and it's a true coming out party for the band.
Park Lane began in 2007, while Keller and guitarist Grayson Hurd were in high school together. The band continued through their collegiate careers, with Hurd recently graduating from St. Mary’s with a business degree. They had a singer, played shows and released a self-titled EP. Keller acknowledges, “Unfortunately, through the touring and the stresses of being in a band, our singer just wasn’t into it anymore. Great guy, no hard feelings, he just had other priorities.” Ready to record a new album and minus vocals, Park Lane put out a national APB looking for a singer. A large amount of hopefuls applied, but nothing was clicking. Then, bassist Clayton Wages reached out to Carley. "As soon as he sent us the first demo of his vocals, we said, 'That's our guy,'" Keller revealed.
For Carley, it was as though a lengthy search had ended for him as well. Despite his successes with Candiria, he was looking for a new kind of musical soul mate. "I heard the songs and instantly connected to them. I fell in love with the music and knew that I had to be part of this, one way or another," he said. "I flew out to the Bay Area to meet the guys and felt this instant chemistry, both musically and with our personalities. Everything just clicked. It just felt right. This sound is something I've been chasing after for years. When I got the first email from Clayton, he made mention that 'Maybe this is the sound you've been looking for' and it was."
Once Carley was officially in the band, his West Coast bandmates sent him demos and he would record his parts, would make tweaks as requested or needed and turned in tight, nearly flawless performances. Given all the factors working against the bicoastal arrangement, things just fell into place.
Letters From the Fire cycles through a range of mood and emotions, from raucous rockers to more refined, alt hard rock gems. "The Edge" kicks off the album and centers on a sensitive, serious and universally relatable topic of wanting a way out. "When I heard the music, I was just staring into my computer, and a melody instantly popped into my head and started writing itself," Carley said. "Lyrically, one of the things that popped up a lot in my mind was people who were at the brink wanting to end their life because of the pressures that come with living. It's about holding on at your darkest moment and not giving up."
Overall, Keller conceded that this partnership is the perfect match and that Park Lane needed the proper voice to convey the emotion of their music. They weren't fan boys wooing Carley because they were aware of his previous work; they thought he had a cool voice and were glad they got to know him on the level first, becoming friends first and then bandmates. With a solidified line up, the band is ready to stake its claim.
Sometimes things happen the way they do because they are meant to. For Park Lane, they needed a voice and a mouthpiece to complete the journey they began in 2007 and to fully actualize their sound. For Carley Coma, this was the musical style he had been searching for. They were on a collision course with fate and Letters From the Fire is the manifestation of that reality.
Park Lane offer up something new and different and they will set your world ablaze with the scorching Letters From the Fire. –Amy Sciarretto