Brooklyn-based indie pop newcomer Couvo (aka Josh Couvares) is getting to release his new album When This All Ends (out April 24), mixed by Charlie Stavish (Jenny Lewis, Interpol, Weezer) and mastered by Robin Schmidt (The 1975, The Japanese House).
When This All Ends is a coming-of-age tale for Couvares, who plans to keep exuberance intact but yearns to jettison reckless abandon and feckless joy, now a 26-year-old working-class citizen; and while he may not be The Only Living Boy in New York, he’s not impervious to loneliness. Swallowing the dregs that remain of youthful naiveté, the unassuming crooner yields wistful, spirited coos akin to Ezra Koenig and Morning Benders era Chris Chu. Through character-driven exploits of the heart and semi-autobiographical accounts, Couvo’s lyrics take precedence, though his big-hearted choruses remain unaffected, and equally poignant.
Hi Josh, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
As good as anyone can be doing, all things considered! I’m alive and well, I’ve got some books to read, and I’ve got my guitar. What more could you need?
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Brooklyn Bound”?
It’s a song about being broke and aimless in Brooklyn, and it sets the scene for the album. If the record was a movie, Brooklyn Bound would be the establishing shot. You know where the action’s going to take place, you know where the story’s starting from.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I remember the day I wrote it: I was living in my old apartment off Bogart and Seigel. I had no job at the time, so I had a lot of time to kill. I’d look out my window at all these people walking by on a Wednesday afternoon. They looked like they lived a better life than you and knew it too. I wondered what it was like to be them, what they did, if they had jobs or if they even needed one. And it was then, sitting there, trying to tease out the difference between me and them, that I started writing this song.
That was all it took. It was one of those rare instances where the whole song came out almost verbatim after I stumbled upon that opening line: “I wanna devastate you, she says.” And who can blame her?
Any plans to release a video for the single?
I have a music video ready to go for it!
The single comes off your new album When This All Ends – what’s the story behind the title?
When This All Ends is about one question–what does it mean to grow up? At some point it happens to all of us. One day, a part of your life has ended and another has begun. Is that a good or bad thing? What do you gain, and what do you lose? Those are the questions I was thinking about while I was writing these songs.
How was the recording and writing process?
I first started tracking When This All Ends at my friend’s studio. I played guitar in his band and he was letting me record for free. Though “studio” might be a strong word for it. It was a windowless concrete box in an office building near Times Square. The bass from the monitors sounded like someone flushing the world’s largest toilet. But we could record music! That was all that mattered and, in hindsight, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
These songs were the inner dialogue of my early twenties. I was settling into some sort of uneasy adulthood, but I was craving something more, something that would give my life a direction. The characters in these songs are coming to terms with that same conflict. And they handle it the way most of us do–they escape in cars, or they drink in bars, or they lose themselves in some pseudo-romantic encounters with someone who’d one day just become another stranger. Maybe they never got what they were looking for, but they’re still hanging on.
What was it like to work with Charlie Stavish and how did that relationship develop?
I actively sought him out because I love his work! I was looking for someone to mix the record, and after looking through his credits, I knew he was the exact right guy for the sound I wanted.
How much did he get to influence the album?
He made the record come to life. Before Charlie, the album sounded like noise; afterwards, it became the record I’d been hearing in my head for years but had never fully realized. Without him, When This All Ends would never have sounded as nuanced and cohesive.
What role does Brooklyn play in your music?
There’s a lot of energy here. You feel it walking down the streets. And you can hear it too. It’s like Brooklyn has its own sonic signature. One night, I walked around the neighborhood recording it–all the people spilling out of the bars and the bodegas, living their separate lives that we’ll never fully know. Those recordings, they’re like scraps of found poetry. And some of them are tucked away in the background on a few songs. I wanted to capture that sound, that vibe, that sense of possibility, so that you could feel it too.
Was the approach for this record always meant to be a coming of age tale?
I can’t say there really was an approach! It might sound pretentious, but it’s where the songs pulled me.
What aspect of your own life did you get to explore on this record?
I was writing about how it feels to be in your mid-twenties with no idea how to get the things you want in life. And If I felt like that, I think it’s because we all do.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Springsteen, DeLillo, Alan Stillitoe, Jennifer Egan, bell hooks, and those beautiful harmonies I always associate with Laurel Canyon in the 1970s.
Any plans for live streams in the works?
Not a live stream, but I’m doing a direct-to-vinyl shut-in session with @leestavall. It’s something they’re doing specifically because of the covid-19 pandemic. Here’s how it works: I’ll record any song you choose in my mom’s basement (which is where I’m staying until things calm down in NYC). Then @leestavall takes the recording and cuts it to vinyl. I do this for EVERY SINGLE ORDER. This way, each record contains a one-of-a-kind live take, made specifically for you.
So please don’t buy too many because then my mom will start yelling at me to shut up already and stop singing 🙁
What else is happening next in Couvo’s world?
When This All Ends comes out April 24th! And, with everything being shut down right now because of COVID-19, I’ve decided to donate all the cash I make from the album. The record costs $6, and 100% of that will go directly to GoFundMes for local bars and venues in NYC that need it. If you’re interested in helping out, you can sign up for your pre-order link here.