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Envy on the Coast has remained synonymous with Long Island’s rock scene for two decades.
The Long Island band is known for their fiery guitar-driven sound that scorched clubs like The Downtown and The Crazy Donkey in Farmingdale, VFW halls, and Temple Beth Am in Merrick from their formation in 2003 until their initial breakup in 2010.
They are typically labeled as emo or pop-punk, but founding guitarist Brian Byrne said he believes their sound was heavier, while noting the band was inspired by rock legends that came before them, particularly Glassjaw.
“Glassjaw was obviously a big deal for us, as far as our rhythm section goes,” Byrne said. “They, in my opinion, are one of the best rock and roll rhythm sections ever.”
Byrne said he and frontman Ryan Hunter were children of radio and MTV, absorbing whatever was hot and fresh, such as Taking Back Sunday or Third Eye Blind, the later of which impacted Bryne directly as a guitarist.
“I always tell people the guitar playing on those first two [Third Eye Blind] records kind of influenced everything I’ve done up to this point,” Byrne said. “That’s kind of the big influence for me, playing in alternate tunings and having kind of weird jangly stuff happening with my guitar playing.”
A six-year hiatus
After nearly a decade of growth and two full-length alums under their belts, the band disbanded in 2010.
Byrne and Hunter embarked on an array of projects, together and solo. In 2016, they broke out two classic Envy tracks for an encore at a show for Hunter’s 1st Vows project.
“It obviously got a pretty big reaction and we thought, ‘How do we do this again?'” Byrne said. “We both like attention, so we wanted to get back on stage and play those songs again.”
The following month, they announced that they would rekindle Envy on the Coast and embarked on a reincarnation tour with three new members. The group has been an active force the last five years, playing festivals, clubs and theaters and releasing singles, EPs and a live album recorded at The Paramount in Huntington in 2018.
‘3’ tracks and five shows
This past year was a special one for fans of the band. The group released a three-track EP simply titled “3” and played Riot Fest, Chain Fest, Irving Plaza and The Sinclair in Boston before their final stop at The Paramount in Huntington on Nov. 24.
At The Paramount, staples from the band’s two full-lengths, “Lucy Gray” and “Lowcountry,” comprised most of the setlist. They also hammered out newer tracks, such as “Ghost” and the crowd-pleasing “Temper Temper” from their debut EP.
While plenty of Long Islanders packed out the theater, the crowd included fans who travelled from across the country to catch the band on its limited tour.
“I’ve been trying to fight for these tickets for about 12 years,” Ty Richard, 27, of Lakeville, Connecticut, said. “The breakup happened, and I was in the military when they got back together, so I couldn’t come out till last year and then I missed out on tickets.”
The U.S. marine, who attended the show with his wife Ariana Richard said he plans to get a tattoo of the lyric “Throwing punches at ocean waves” from the song “The Gift of Paralysis.”
‘Pretty sensitive dudes’
Of the three new tracks the band released, those in the crowd lucky enough the reach the barrier at the stage said they were most excited to hear “Flash Bang.”
“I moved out to L.A. the Spring of this year and Ryan and I decided to write a couple of new Envy songs just in anticipation of the shows, and because we thought it’d be fun,” Byrne said of writing “Flash Bang.”
“We kind of hit a little bit of a wall and he started playing around with drum loops, and I was just kind of riffing or whatever, and I played this guitar part on my baritone guitar that was just a really kind of simple — almost Lowcountry-esque pentatonic thing,” he continued. “And it just worked, it sounded kind of tough.”
Byrne said he and Hunter have a collaborative process when the time comes for new music. When Hunter comes up with guitar parts, Byrne will “make them a little more harmonically dense and add my little flourishes.”
When it comes to writing lyrics today, Byrne said he and Hunter are both still “pretty sensitive dudes,” but what inspires their lyrics today is quite different from their “Lucy Gray” days.
“The subject matter of 15 years ago is certainly not relevant to the things that we’ve done recently,” he said. “But I think our process now is a little more refined and a little more mature and focused on bigger life issues than our immediate drama surrounding our friends group or our girlfriends — the stuff you write about when you’re like 20 years old.”
‘The nicest venue on Long Island’
Before their tour stop last month, the last time Envy on the Coast played The Paramount was in 2018. The released that performance as a live album “Alive After All” in 2019.
“That show was special because it was a one-off of us playing both of our full-lengths in sequence, and we had never done that before, and probably will never do it again,” Byrne said of choosing to release the live album. “It was just kind of a no brainer, it just made sense. People love those songs and we’re a good live band and why the hell not, you know?”
Byrne’s relationship with The Paramount dates back to when it first opened in 2011. He worked their as a production and stage manager until the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020.
“It’s definitely the nicest venue on Long Island by a long shot and I have a personal relationship with that place,” he said. “For me, it will always be a special place to play — just because you know, I’ve busted my ass there, sweating it out, building shows for other people. And then my band gets to play there and tear the place down for a night, and it’s fun.”
Fans who missed an opportunity to catch the band on tour this year may have to wait a bit to see the rockers hit the stage again.
“Getting back into the swing of things, especially after COVID, has been very difficult for both of us, and we both have other projects that we’re probably going to pursue,” Byrne said. “So it’s not going to be anything for us for the foreseeable future.”
Top: Brian Byrne performing at The Paramount on Nov. 24.