“There was never really a definitive moment when we were done,” says Linnea Mohn.
It’s a snowy Saturday morning, and Coach Said Not To—Mohn, her younger sister Eva, keyboardist Lee Violet, and drummer Annika Johnson—have gathered for rehearsal in the St. Paul home Mohn shares with her Rogue Valley bandmate, Luke Anderson. He’s in the kitchen fixing a late breakfast after his own band rehearsal, drumming with Lissie. Music is a constant in this home.
Many things in life come down to timing, and if the stars align correctly, the result can be spectacular. When Eva Mohn returned to Minnesota late last December from Sweden, where she’d been living and performing as a dancer, she and her sister thought about performing together as their duo, Dale Hush Hush. The elder Mohn, who’s kept busy with her work as vocalist/keyboardist in Rogue Valley and DJing at Go 96.3, decided to take it a step further by reviving their old band. By chance, all four members of Coach Said Not To were in the Twin Cities at the same time, which led to tonight’s reunion show at Icehouse.
Coach began organically, years ago, back when Violet was teaching Eva Mohn ballet and, on the drive home after the lesson, she introduced Eva to the classics like Björk and Tori Amos. The two started playing together, with Lee on keys and Eva on guitar. Linnea picked up the bass, wanting to find her place in the band. And when their original drummer dropped out, they were introduced to Annika Johnson, who was just 17 at the time she joined, squaring out a group that were poised for something. It wasn’t clear just what, not just yet.
By 2006 they were ready to head down to Austin, Texas for a South by Southwest showcase in 2006. But when they returned home to Minnesota, the four had a big decision to make. Eva had been offered contracts to dance in New York and Germany. With their lead singer and main songwriter leaving town, Linnea pursued a full-time job and theater, while Annika went back to graduate school and Lee continued to teach ballet and became a mother.
When the Santa Ana winds ushered in the wildfires in late 2017, the place Annika was staying in California while working on her thesis on Dakota Art History burned down. With no place to live, she migrated back to Minnesota while reevaluating her next step.
It seems as if the band reconvenes whenever time comes for its members to reevaluate their lives. “When we sit and talk about Coach, we get dreamy,” Eva says, with a hint of a Swedish accent she has picked up living overseas. “We bring up applying for a grant, and there’s a lot of ideas. It somehow works very well to play music, the four of us.”
“There are so many songs,” Violet says as the band set up their gear in the basement. “Eva’s got a lot of new songs too. If we had the time, and we were all in the same place, we can do lots of things.”
The Icehouse set will include many old numbers along with new tunes like “Love Song For a Tattoo Artist.” The track is supple and sinewy, and like a summer breeze it flows, brief and warm and welcome, only really noticeable once it’s passed.
Many things have changed over the years. Time apart changes the dynamics of being in a band with your sister. “It’s brutally honest in terms of criticism,” Linnea says. “It’s sort of like being in a band with Luke. We were playing a song where we were having trouble with a certain change, and it kept happening. Because of that, Eva started singing the wrong part, and I yelled ‘No!’ There’s been times she’s caught me making a face at her that’s unintentional. There’s not much of a filter; we were way bitchier in the first incarnation of Coach, but maybe we were just bitchier, in general. We were younger and less tolerant, and I know that time is short this time around. I’m trying to check that impulse. I’m too tired to be mean.”
She corrects herself. “That’s not true,” she says. “I get mean when I’m tired. I’ve let go. I don’t have the energy or time for that same old stuff. I just want this to be fun as possible since we’re putting so much energy and time into this one-off before we go back out into the world.”
Coach Said Not To
When: 9:30 p.m. Tues. Feb. 13
Tickets: 21+, $8/$10; more info here