There’s a lot of musical history on Long Island, especially when it comes to hardcore and punk. It was that heritage that the six members of Koyo wanted to pay homage to with their band. Formed in 2019, the six-piece – vocalist Joey Chairamonte, guitarists Harold Griffin, TJ Rotolico and Mike Marazzo, bassist Stephen Spanos and drummer Sal Argento – all played in different bands in the scene but had been friends for years. It was when they all happened to be home at the same time that idea of a new project was floated and Koyo started life. They managed one gig before the pandemic hit, but the subsequent downtime allowed them the time to really hone their craft and the direction of the band. “Our goal isn’t so much to exit where we came from,” explains Griffin, “but to stretch the boundaries of what we can be and what Koyo is. We’re heavily influenced by the early- to mid-2000s hardcore-adjacent emo and pop-punk scene. It specifically catered to Long Island bands when it started, but now what Koyo is probably relates to other bands that aren’t so geographically concentrated. They can be from anywhere – it’s more the timeframe that’s more called back to with what we write.”
As such, Koyo exists both in the past and the present. That’s something you can hear in the music they’ve released to date, but especially within the fabric of “Ten Digits Away”, the first song that they’ll be releasing on Pure Noise Records. A seamless blend of hardcore and emo, it infuses elements of the latter into the framework of the former to create a song that bristles with energy and emotion in equal measure while creating something new and unique in the process. “This is the project where we can be melodic and personal and emotional and vulnerable,” says Griffin, “and that’s not something we can always get out of the other things that we’ve done. This happens to be a more tender part of us that wants to come out.” “The beauty of doing something like Koyo,” says Chairamonte, “is that it can be truly whatever we want. The boundaries are infinite because there are none.” “And we can go beyond the box of hardcore,” adds Rotolico, “whilst still keeping the ethos of hardcore.”
Koyo is now the project – above all the others they’ve been involved in – that its members are most focused on. That care and dedication can be heard easily in “Ten Digits Away”. Recorded in a studio on a farm in Flemington, NJ by Such Gold’s Jon Markson, it’s a song that also captures and reflects on – in trademark Koyo style – the tentative and temporary nature of existence. But within that fragility is also an urgent call to make the most of the time we have while we have it – because it could all end at any moment. “This project for us has kind of come together amidst our emerging adulthood,” explains Chairamonte. “We’re not 18 year old kids, we’re a little older, and with that comes more perspective and dwelling on timelines. Reality sets in. When I was 18, I didn’t feel like I had a single responsibility on planet Earth. I felt like I could truly tour the fucking world and do whatever the fuck I wanted and feel no guilt doing it. When you’re 24 or 25, I still feel that life should be spent doing exclusively what you want, because you’ve only got one, but there is a reminder that that time spent doing whatever you care for is finite.”
“There’s also something kind of beautiful,” says Griffin, “about the harmony between what Joey thinks about lyrically and what we call back to musically. It’s the stuff that we grew up with when we were really young, and it’s interesting to think that musically we’re calling back in the same way that the lyrics are celebrating a timeframe.”
To that extent, “Ten Digits Away” transcends time to position Koyo at the beginning of the next phase of its existence. Truthfully, it wasn’t meant to become a priority, or even last this long, but there’s something about this project that its members can’t shake. Nor do they want to. “I don’t think we planned on this being what it is,” chuckles Rotolico. “I think we said, ‘Hey let’s do like a couple of weekends and put out an EP.’ We just wanted to do something that’s a little different to what’s going on on Long Island right now. But here we are!” “It’s the past, present and future all rolled into one,” chimes in Griffin, “because the goal is always to explore what we can do creatively to push the boundaries of what we know and who we are.” “But not only is this band for us,” adds Chairamonte, “it’s for Long Island. We’re doing it just as much for us as we are for the place that gave us fucking everything.”
Koyo have released new single “Call It Off” taken from the forthcoming 7inch w.
Long Island, NY supergroup Koyo have signed to Pure Noise Records. Koyo is a mix of member.