Closets, bedrooms, and basements all replaced recording studios last year. But despite the distance, musicians still managed to find a way to play and produce music for when live shows returned.
Couch is a Boston-based band consisting of seven musicians scattered across the country, originally at different universities (many members have since graduated). Each member, with the exception of drummer Jared Gozinsky, grew up in Greater Boston, from Newton to Framingham to Wellesley. They released their debut self-titled EP in March and are currently touring throughout the Northeast with Sammy Rae & The Friends.
Though the band operated “long-distance” for a few years before the pandemic, they had never encountered such a long separation before.
“It was a lot of e-mailing entire sessions to each other or even dropping off certain mics and interfaces at each other’s houses on the porch with the windows shut,” bassist Will Griffin said in a Zoom interview. “There was a lot of safe transfer of goods, which made it a lot easier to get things done but more difficult in a way to work on that chemistry.”
But Couch found other ways to create chemistry. A few members even quarantined in Maine together, which produced one of their recent songs, “Black Bear Lane,” a tune lead vocalist Tema Siegel said wouldn’t have happened without the pandemic. Though the group had to cancel their 2020 summer tour, Couch was able to play a drive-in concert in Newton.
Another band that benefited from the space (and also recorded in Maine) is Juniper, a trio influenced by alternative rock, folk, R&B, and bedroom pop. They released their debut album, “Distance Keeps Me Distant,” in June.
Juniper started as a conglomerate of musicians but is now a trio: vocalist Scott Johnson, guitarist Ahren Shreeve, and drummer Alejandro Marín. Not only did the pandemic solidify Juniper’s lineup, it also inspired the main message of their album.
“Over the course of the pandemic, I almost got used to being remote and distant from people, to the point where I was like ‘alone time is kind of badass.’ I loved taking myself on dates, I loved hanging out with myself, whereas before, that would almost make me anxious,” Johnson said.
The album also touches upon how relationships weave in and out of feelings of distance.
Half of the songs were written during the bulk of Johnson’s years at Boston University, but the other half were written during the pandemic and recorded in Maine at Marín’s family’s place. The band members fit in recording wherever they could — in between classes, late at night, or for Johnson, inside his tiny closet in his Allston apartment.
Tyler Gaccione, who performs as Gatch, is a 23-year-old musician who attends Northeastern University and often plays with a core five-piece band. In July he released “Party People,” produced by The Arcitype.
Though Gatch was tempted to steer toward the genre of bedroom pop for his EP, he figured most people had done enough self-reflecting during quarantine and yearned for other music.
“My friend told me her mom was dancing around the kitchen, singing ‘Shackles’ [a 2019 single]. That set me off on this whole thing of I want to make dance-around-your-kitchen music. That’s the lane that I want to be in right now because if people are gonna be stuck at home, at least we can make something that would be fun to listen to,” Gatch said in a phone interview.
At times, writing the songs for “Party People” helped Gatch relive some parties, in contrast to a quarantine habit of sitting in his basement all day. But in a similar vein, the process also gave him an “acute awareness” that these things were no longer happening.
As of late, Gatch hasn’t had that problem. He and his band performed a record-release show at the Middle East in Cambridge for a packed crowd last month.
“I wanted to do something that had an appreciation for fun, because then when everyone gets to return to having fun, it will be there,” Gatch said.
With Sammy Rae & The Friends. At The Met, Pawtucket, R.I., Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. At Higher Ground, South Burlington, V.T. Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. At Pearl Street Nightclub, Northampton, Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. www.couchtheband.com/tour
At Fall Hard Cider Festival, Time Out Market, 401 Park Drive. Oct. 16 at noon. www.timeoutmarket.com/boston/shows-events
Riana Buchman can be reached at email@example.com.