“When I go to a real show at a venue, I kind of feel out of place having to stand in a certain spot.”
Along with our mental and physical health, COVID-19 has also affected our capacity for patience. A lot of people have found themselves waiting a long time for things, whether it’s going back to work or returning to shows and ballgames. There’s also waiting for the unemployment benefits to kick in, the doctor’s appointment, and that important document to finally come in through the mail.
Americans in general have a horrible reputation for our lack of restraint, so one can only imagine how agonizing this whole situation has been for those who really hate to wait. Boston jangle pop power trio the Water Cycle decided to wait until they could properly put out their Dignified and Old EP with a release show, but the current situation has prevented that from becoming a reality.
Reaching a now or never scenario, the band finally put out the record on Nov. 27, and despite the pandemic times, it’s extremely catchy and upbeat. I recently spoke with guitarist and vocalist Joe Kerwin, his brother Jack who plays the drums, and bassist Olivia Mastrosimone about making the EP in a different country, holdups due to COVID-19, playing basement shows, and a livestream they have coming up.
With the Dignified and Old EP, what did you guys want to do differently that you weren’t able to accomplish with your previous two EPs?
Joe: I think we wanted to make it a little dirtier and a little bit more mature, I think those are the two things we wanted to accomplish. It definitely feels like it’s an extension of what we’ve done, but I think we added more hi-fi, a little more distortion, and a little bit of grit while growing up a little bit, not too much though.
Jack: This one is definitely different than our past two EPs. I feel like those had a more home recording sound and more lo-fi. I never thought that it was super intentional, it just kind of happened.
Joe: We also recorded it with our really talented friends in Montreal who are in a band called Winona Forever and it sounds pretty different just because of who we were working with one it.
How much did COVID-19 affect the making of the record? Did any snags come up when it came to releasing it and recording it?
Joe: We were able to get all of the tracks done before the pandemic hit, but we’ve had tons of issues since because of COVID-19. It’s been a mess in a lot of ways. We would have liked to go back up to Montreal and do some more recording, but couldn’t because of the borders closing.
Olivia: It was a long standstill, so to say.
Joe: We were originally planning on releasing it during the early spring and then COVID-19 hit, so we figured we’d save it until the summer and have a release show. Then summer came and we realized that it wasn’t going to happen and there was so much political and social unrest that it felt like it would have been pretty inappropriate to do any self-promotion. Then we put it off longer and then we got to the fall and we said to ourselves that if we don’t release it now then it’s never going to happen. We have other projects with deadlines and those have also been affected because of the virus.
Olivia: Joe and I are also in the same house and Jack isn’t far away, but he lives in a different house. It’s been tough being apart and not always being able to see each other.
Quirky romance is definitely a dominant subject matter in a few songs on the EP, whether it’s longing to have a relationship while doing absolutely nothing with your significant other, going out to dance, or running into your crush on a college campus. What inspires this approach to songwriting?
Joe: It’s just insecurity, broadly. It is all real-life stuff and my goal with songwriting for a long time has been to look for little moments that say something bigger about what I’m experiencing. I have these moments of insecurity that I think are really personal to me and I hope people might identify with. The idea of taking insecurity and turning it into something people can sing along with is a pretty special transformation. That’s a big goal with a lot of it.
A lot of photos I’ve seen of The Water Cycle on the internet have the band playing basement shows. Is that a preferred environment for you guys? If so, what makes it different than playing in a club or bar?
Joe: Oh God, we’d take a basement any day over a club or a bar.
Joe: We’ve had inconsistent and spotty at best experiences in clubs and bars while basements, especially every one we’ve played for the past two years, have just been amazing. The basement show community is something that’s really special to us along with the DIY community in Boston. I think there are a lot of things about basements that make it the preferred environment for us. It generally costs $5 to get in, so you’re not asking for too much money from people. It’s a social experience as well as a musical experience so we go to a lot of basement shows and I love the fact that you get to go in and listen to a half hour of a band playing, then go out and hang with your friends and then go back in for another band.
The fact that you’re doing something together and you get to go see your friend’s bands play with everyone supporting one another while getting excited about the art each other is making is a really cool thing. It being all ages is another plus, the fact that there are age restrictions on a lot of places we might want to play can definitely get in the way of us drawing a crowd. Basement shows cut through all of that while letting you do everything with way less overhead. It feels like half a show and half a party a lot of the time. Jack does a lot of basement show booking too.
Jack: Olivia and myself aren’t 21, so a lot of the time it’s felt like more of a realistic way to have a good show than trying to get people into some bar with an age restriction. Especially the first time we played at a club, we had to sign something so we figured it was a thing people were doing even though that’s not really the case. I’m sure there are people who hang out at the same venues in Boston when they were able to do so, but when I found out about the basement scene I had no question that it was the best move.
Joe: With basement shows, the basements themselves will have some sort of following so it’s a lot easier to get yourself in front of new people. At a bar or venue, people are usually going out to see a specific band and the price is three times what you’ll pay at a basement show.
Olivia: They’re just so much fun and there will be so many people from all over the city in one tiny basement. It’s sweaty and very dirty, it’s not that dangerous but it can be very dangerous (laughs). It’s really so fun, I can’t really say anything else other than that. When I go to a real show at a venue, I kind of feel out of place having to stand in a certain spot and I can’t leave because I don’t want someone else to take it. There’s all these old dudes with cups of beer with no lids and I want to move around. It’s just always better to play in a basement, people aren’t as afraid to dance. When I’m at a show I’m kind of anxious, but when I’m in a basement I feel like I can act kind of crazy while having a fun time. It feels a bit more genuine.
How do you plan on promoting the Dignified and Old EP in the absence of live music? Do you plan on doing any live streaming?
Jack: We’re going to be doing a livestream EP release show type thing on Dec. 5 through Baby’s All Right, which is a venue in Brooklyn. That’ll be like a big ticketed thing and I think we’ll probably do it as a full band, we haven’t fully figured it out yet.
Joe: We’re trying to figure out ways to make people feel at least a bit connected to the excitement of a basement show. I might raffle off some six packs of Pabst Blue Ribbon and drop them off around Boston for just an idea. At the beginning of the year, we wanted to do a big tour at the end of the summer, so this is definitely far from ideal in terms of how we would be promoting the new record.
Jack: This is the first time we’ve released something since February of 2018 and I always felt that doing little out of state tours were signs of making progress and moving forward. Without that, it’s a weird thing to have to handle because our live show is the majority of what we are. It’s been a lot of work, even putting together a one-sheet press release took us way longer than it should. It’s definitely been tough, but Olivia has made some one-of-a-kind handmade tote bags, which you can see on our Instagram and Facebook pages.
Olivia: I feel like it’s a good time to do things a little differently and shake things up a bit. I really want to do some goofy cover songs and I’m sure some people will think that’s fun.
Rob Duguay is an arts & entertainment journalist based in Providence, RI who is originally from Shelton, CT. Outside of DigBoston, he also writes for The Providence Journal, The Connecticut Examiner, The Newport Daily News, Worcester Magazine, New Noise Magazine, Northern Transmissions and numerous other publications. While covering mostly music, he has also written about film, TV, comedy, theatre, visual art, food, drink, sports and cannabis.