By Hannah Gurguri, Lukas Shrestha & Suvi Talvite
Photo contributed by Couch the Band
Pop-funk band Couch is taking off. With some members starting off in South’s Jazz Ensemble, they are now taking their collective talents to 20 cities across the country in their third tour.
The local septet (seven-member band) is set to release their new EP “Sunshower” in early November and embark on the accompanying tour, which opens in late October, right before the EP’s release.
Keyboard player Danny Silverston and lead vocalist Tema Siegel, Couch’s two South alumni, were taught by band teacher Lisa Linde. Linde, who saw the band perform last year in Boston, said she could see parts of who they were as students in their current musical styles.
“Danny took the most incredible piano solo in the middle of one of the tunes, and I was screaming, but he did the same thing here as my student in a jazz concert many times,” she said. “[And] Tema is one of those singers that always had her sound.”
Having natural talent and a good teacher isn’t everything to achieving success. Silverston said he had to make certain sacrifices to pursue his passion for music.
“I ended up choosing jazz over sports and other things,” he said.”[But] Newton South has a super vibrant [jazz] program that was somewhat formative in my jazz education, just engaging with that kind of music.”
The band members’ sacrifices paid off, as the band’s third major tour, coming to Boston on Nov. 10, has already sold out in some cities. Having played at locations like Times Square and the Boston Calling Music Festival, Siegel said she views performing in unconventional venues as a testament to the band’s growing popularity.
“It’s exciting to watch the list of cities that we’re playing grow to include non-major cities, places where it feels really validating to know that people are listening,” she said.
Benjamin Youngman, a music teacher who knew Silverston and Siegel when they were in high school, said he cannot take any credit for their success, although he hopes he positively impacted them in some way.
“This isn’t about what I did or expecting somebody to buy me a Lambo down the road,” he said. “[Teaching] is just about you doing what was done for you. I had teachers who helped me to be a better musician, and hopefully I helped [Silverston and Siegel] to be better musicians in some way, shape or form.”
The Couch members have already paid that inspiration forward: sophomore Gideon Lind, a member of band Solar Devastation, said bands like Couch are the reason he formed his own.
“If other people weren’t doing this before us, we probably wouldn’t be doing it,” he said.
While South’s jazz program in general is very robust, Lind said a formal class isn’t necessary to form a band if you have initiative.
“The jazz program itself, at least at the level we’re taking it, is not particularly advanced,” he said. “I feel like we did this, this outside of school band thing, as our own project.”
Senior Hannah Lim, a violist at South, said Couch is especially inspiring given the challenges South’s environment can provide.
“When you think of Newton, it’s more education-based, and it’s a lot more rigorous with academics than with music,” she said. “It’s really cool that [Couch] decided to make their own stuff up.”
Silverston said he encourages aspiring musicians to face their challenges head-on, no matter how far-fetched a career in music may sound.
“Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger because I did not consider that this would be a real thing, and here I am,” he said. “If you want to pursue music, it’s hard, but that’s not a reason you shouldn’t do it, especially if that’s where your passions are.”
Most of all, making music is not something that one can always do on their own, and Silverston said he remains grateful for his bandmates he shares his musical journey with.
“They’re incredible musicians and musical minds in their own right,” he said. “They inspire me and push me to be better all the time.”