Thee Commons
Thee Commons
Courtesy Thee Commons

Meet Coachella's Freshman Class of 2017: Seven Artists Making Their Coachella Debut

For many bands, playing your first Coachella represents a major career milestone. It can also be a little overwhelming. What if only 10 people show up to your set? What if 10,000 show up? What if that one synth decides to take a dump right in the middle of your big finale?

To see how some of this year's first-timers were doing, we reached out with a few questions via email ahead of the big weekend in Indio. Here's what Coachella newbies Tall Juan, Klangstof, Tennis, Diamante Eléctrico, Thee Commons and Ezra Furman are thinking about going into one of the biggest shows of their lives.

Tall Juan
Tall Juan
Laura Lynn Petrick

Tall Juan (Sonora Stage, Friday, 1-1:40 p.m.)
Hometown: Far Rockaway, Queens, New York
Active since: 2014
Sounds like: Punk-y, Ramones-y garage-rock goodness
Awesome sample track: "Why Not?"

You were a late addition to the Coachella lineup. When did you find out they had booked you? Did it catch you totally off-guard?
I was touring South America when someone from Viva! Presents called me on the phone and asked me, "Yo Juan, would you like to play Coachella?" I obviously said yes, and I wasn't expecting it at all.

What was the first festival you ever attended? What was it like?
It was one in Argentina, when I was a kid back in 2004. It was cool, I went there because Morrissey and Blondie were the main acts.

How do you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?
I would say it sounds like Sade, but with a nylon string guitar and way faster than her.

Who else on the lineup are you excited to see?
Mac DeMarco and Lady Gaga.

Coachella is known to sometimes decorate or leave little gifts in artists’ trailers. Anything you’re really hoping to see when you arrive?
Hopefully there's a karaoke machine, so we can invite everyone to sing and party with us.

KlangstofEXPAND
Klangstof
Jack McKain

Klangstof (Gobi Tent, Friday, 1:25-2:05 p.m.)
Hometown: Amsterdam
Active since: 2015
Sounds like: "Very atmospheric, but at the same time we do love to use some pop magic every now and then."
Awesome sample track: "Hostage"

Europe has been doing big music festivals much longer than America. Is playing Coachella a big deal back home? Or do all American music festivals seem kind of quaint and adorable compared to Glastonbury or Roskilde or Pukkelpop?
Koen van de Wardt (synths/guitar/bass/vocals): For us, especially since we’re the first Dutch band to play the festival, it is quite a big deal to play Coachella. Europeans always look at what is going on in America. Festivals in the U.S. are usually a bit more mainstream and cleaner. If you go to Glastonbury, for example, you know you’re gonna smell like poo and be totally dead by the end of the festival. I must say I do prefer it in the U.S. way.

Is it really true that you’re the first Dutch band ever to play Coachella? I guess Tiësto doesn’t count as a band …
I’m glad Tiësto isn’t a band. People tend to think of our country as the home of EDM, which makes it a lot harder for musicians that are doing something else to get the recognition they deserve. So I hope our performance will be a good step toward exporting some more Dutch bands from Holland.

Coachella is known for high temperatures. What is your preferred way to say cool in the blazing desert sunshine?
WE HAVE NO CLUE!! We’ve never been in a desert, and I guess Norway [where van de Wardt is originally from] is the furthest you can be from desert sunshine. So I don’t even know if we’ll survive.

Who else on the lineup are you excited to see?
I saw Radiohead do their first show of the new album in Amsterdam last year. And to be honest I don’t think it was as amazing as I hoped for. Now that they have done some extensive touring with the latest record, I’m really excited to see if they blow me away again this time. Besides that, I’m also very keen to see what Kendrick [Lamar] will do.

Coachella is known for putting unique little touches in the artists’ trailers. Anything you’d hope to see when you arrive?
I didn’t know this. Hmm, a lot of Snus. It’s this weird tobacco product you put under your lips. That would actually make us the happiest in the world. Just a trailer full of that stuff.

TennisEXPAND
Tennis
Luca Venter

Tennis (Mojave Tent, Friday, 3:10-3:55 p.m.)
Hometown: Denver
Active since: 2010
Sounds like: Groovy indie pop with a '70s sensibility
Awesome sample track: "In the Morning I'll Be Better"

When you got booked to play Coachella this year, were you like, “About goddamn time!”?
Alaina Moore (vocals/keys/guitar): We thought our window of ever playing Coachella had passed! I was completely shocked when we booked it. I don't know what changed but I'm happy about it.

What was the first festival each of you ever attended?
Coachella! Patrick [Riley, guitar/bass, Moore's husband] and I both went separately, the same year. We watched the same bands play and Radiohead headlined. We stood very near to each other but didn't meet until years later. Playing Coachella together now feels like synchronicity.

Complete this sentence: “During our Coachella set, fans can expect …”
Pyrotechnics. Backup dancers. A lip-synching disaster. Vomit artists. We've asked 24 celebrities to join us onstage; two of them have given us a hard no, the rest have yet to respond.

What’s the most challenging thing about playing festivals?
Not getting a proper soundcheck and the unpredictability of weather. But I really like the excitement and energy of a festival. I like that it's quick and inexact, that you get what you get and have to make it work. It also feels like a family reunion bumping into my friends' bands that I so rarely see on the road.

Who else on the lineup are you excited to see?
I have to see Lorde. That's my shit.

Anything you’re really hoping to see in your trailer when you arrive?
Health care, a 401(k), redistribution of wealth ...

Diamante Electrico
Diamante Electrico
Courtesy Diamante Electrico

Diamante Eléctrico (Sonora Stage, Friday, 3:50-4:30 p.m.)
Hometown: Bogotá, Colombia
Active since: 2012
Sounds like: "A straight-up, no bullshit/no compromise Rocanrol band."
Awesome sample track: "Déjala Rodar"

What’s the biggest festival you’ve ever played up until now?
Juan Galeano (vocals/electric and upright bass): We've played quite a few festivals already. We played Rock al Parque festival in Bogotá, closing the mainstage in 2015 in front of 80,000 people. That was quite a trip. We've also played two full stadiums in 2015 and 2016 opening for Foo Fighters and The Rolling Stones for more than 40,000 each.

What’s the most challenging thing about playing festivals?
Engaging audience, especially in big festivals with big names. It's very easy to get lost in the middle of a bunch of bands. We've learned that once the audience is in front of you, you have one chance to make them sing or dance. Once you do, they are yours.

Who else on the lineup are you excited to see?
Father John Misty we love, never had the chance to see him live before. Radiohead is a must especially for us, we have never seen them live before! We are excited about Kendrick Lamar also, and Hans Zimmer is also something we are going to see; not every day you get to see him perform live.

What's something about the Colombian music scene most Americans probably don't know?
We were at war for many years. We've been quiet for way too long. We are finally waking up and people are starting to notice us. There are a bunch of very interesting bands and projects, from cumbia to hip-hop to rock & roll, and Colombia is all of that and much more. Come on down and we will show you!

What’s cooler: opening for The Rolling Stones or playing Coachella?
That's a tough one. ... The Stones was another thing all on its own. We've been fans since [we were] kids and to have the chance to hug Keith and Mick and thank them for the music is something we will never forget.

Denzel Curry
Denzel Curry
Melt Booking

Denzel Curry (Gobi Tent, Friday, 11:00-11:45 p.m.)
Hometown: Carol City, Florida
Active since: 2011
Sounds like: A Southern SchoolBoy Q spitting over woozy, Memphis-inspired beats
Awesome sample track: "Ultimate"

You’re from a part of Miami area called Carol City. For those not familiar, how would you describe it?
Carol City is the last stop before you leave Miami Dade County; it's the furthest thing away from the tourists. It's beautiful yet so ugly all at the same time. My cousins can be outside playing tag while the Feds are raiding somebody's house a block away. We get over-policed so the environment can feel aggressive at times but really we're all just hard-working human beings trying to make a living.

Word is your South by Southwest shows were pretty lit. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get the crowd going?
Man, I don't remember all of them, sometimes I do roundhouse kicks on stage, the wall of death gets the crowd hype. At Lovebox I jumped onto the security's shoulders and performed my whole set on his shoulders in the middle of the crowd.

What was the first festival you ever attended? What was it like?
I don't know if it counts as a festival but the Mad Decent Block Party, first time I seen a big-ass stage.

Complete this sentence: “During my Coachella set, fans can expect ...”
A lot of fucking energy!!

A lot of people are saying this is Coachella’s strongest hip-hop lineup ever. What do you think?
Yeah, seems like a strong lineup. Excited to check Kendrick and Gucci as well as some of the homies.

Who else on the lineup are you excited to see?
Thundercat, GoldLink, Kaytranada, Show Me the Body, Uzi, SchoolBoy, Mac, Future, Little Dragon, Skepta, Sampha, Dram and Crystal Castles (I wish Alice was with them — shout-out to Alice Glass that's the homie).

Thee Commons
Thee Commons
Courtesy Thee Commons

Thee Commons (Sonora Stage, Saturday, 7:45 p.m.-close)
Hometown: Los Angeles
Active since: 2012
Sounds like: Psychedelic cumbia punk
Awesome sample track: "El Wampiro"

You were a late addition to the Coachella lineup. When did you find out they had booked you? Did it catch you totally off-guard?
David Pacheco (guitar/vocals): It was the day after the Grammys; we were having a meeting with our manager and a prospective booking agent at downtown’s Grand Central Market. Fifteen minutes into our meeting, our manager excused himself and said, “I have to take this phone call.” He left for what seemed like 15 to 20 minutes. When he came back, he said, “Guys, you’re not going to believe this but you guys just got asked to perform at Coachella!’ My brother [Rene Pacheco, drums] immediately exclaimed, “I knew it! If it wasn’t this year, then next year for sure!” He left to call his girlfriend with excitement shortly after.

Have you guys attended Coachella as fans? If so, what were some of your most memorable moments of Coachellas past?
My brother and I have never attended the festival as fans. We're both first-timers. However, I remember being in high school when The Pixies reunited in 2004 for Coachella. That was the only time I desperately tried to go.

Complete this sentence: “During our Coachella set, fans can expect …"
Gratuitous nudity, Rene’s demon walk and supersonic cumbia-licious waves.

What’s the biggest festival you’ve ever played before this, and what was that experience like?
We performed earlier this year at Night on Broadway headlining the Viva! Presents stage, and there were hundreds of people filling up all of Fifth Street between Spring Street and Broadway, it was surreal, to say the least. Our family was there cheering us on but quickly moved away from the stage when people began jumping around and crowdsurfing. Here’s a little video clip of that.

Who else on this year’s lineup are you excited to see?
In no particular order … King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, K-Dot, Hans Zimmer, Quitapenas and Chicano Batman and, of course, Radiohead.

Anything you’re really hoping to see in your trailer when you arrive?
A disco ball would be insane! Instrumental gear would be nice, too. Anything we can use productively. Churro-flavored ice cream would be righteous. Oh, and some AMC theater tickets!?

Ezra FurmanEXPAND
Ezra Furman
Phil Sharp

Ezra Furman (Outdoor Stage, Sunday, 2:35 p.m.-3:20 p.m.)
Hometown: San Francisco (by way of Chicago)
Active since: 2006
Sounds like: "Ezra Furman music. Or Ezrawave if you prefer. Furmancore is also acceptable."
Awesome sample track: "Restless Year"

This will be your first Coachella appearance, right? That’s amazing to me. Have you been invited to play before and just couldn’t make it work?
Ha, ha, ha! No, I've never been invited before. I'm glad you see me as significant enough to be obviously at home on the Coachella lineup. It feels like a big deal to me. We play huge festivals in Europe but this is really my first big one in the U.S. I played Lollapalooza once, but that was many years ago, with my previous band, and we played at noon, and I was wearing a rubber raincoat in the hot sun.

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “Coachella”?
Philip Anschutz. He owns Goldenvoice, which owns Coachella. Anschutz is the kind of oil tycoon that will sue a town for refusing to allow his oil company to frack there. He's also donated to various anti-LGBT, right-wing Christian organizations. So I think of him, and how he's lining his pockets with our hipster money. I think we should all be aware of what we're participating in. I think the Coachella performers and audience should take it as a challenge to be fired up about environmental and social and political issues, fired up enough that we outweigh the evil we're allowing.

Am I being a buzzkill right now? I don't mean to be. We should have fun and listen to good music, better music than our enemies do, and then use the energy that gives us to fight back, to live in a way we can believe in.

Complete the following sentence: “During my Coachella set, fans can expect …”
During my Coachella set, fans can expectorate freely. That means they can spit. But not on each other, please. Direct your saliva toward the ground, or if you're in the front row, toward me. Extra points for direct hits.

What’s the most challenging thing about playing festivals?
Sometimes you have to stay there for many hours and there is literally no place you can go where you are not hearing the sound of loud music. I need silence to survive and it makes me crazy sometimes.

Who else on the lineup are you excited to see?
I'm excited just to be alive while Kendrick Lamar is making music. So I'd love to watch him perform.

Anything you’d hope to see in your trailer when you arrive?
I have heard about this — how Coachella tries to personalize the artist trailers. I'm hoping for a combination Conservative Judaism/BDSM kink-themed trailer.

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