Coby and the Prisoners began in 2012 during some downtime between projects for songwriter and founder Coby Hartzler. A collection of solo songs and ideas were recorded over a long weekend at a studio in Indianapolis. It was released quietly online in conjunction with a few shows around Ohio, but the project soon fizzled out and was left at that.
The next phase of the band began to slowly form sometime in 2015. A few new players came into the picture, adding their own flavors and styles. The sound started to take shape creating what could be considered the band's second album, Candy Queen. The album hones in on Hartzler's knack for pop hooks layered with sounds that can feel somewhat classic yet modern at the same time. Guitar licks and melodies that pay homage to classic rock or the Nashville country of old, yet never retreading over already worn down or recycled territories.
Having grown up in a fairly conservative, small town with religion starkly at the focus, Hartzler began to question what he was being fed. Similarly, small town America rejects the idea that a grown man can continue to pursue the art of music as something more than a teenage hobby. For Hartzler, music is a way of clawing back at some of these things. With this album, he begins to address these issues head on, as if you can see the layers slowly being peeled away. Candy Queen hovers somewhere around playful off the cuff lyrics and thoughts that can suddenly dip into deeper and darker territories without warning.
Like a simple sunny drive on an early summer's evening that can feel almost too perfect. When a moment is so good that you can't help but be reminded of the fleetingness of it all. That it will end. All of these themes swirl throughout the center of his songs but come wrapped up in a colorful candy wrapper.