Pop[ular] Punk

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library - Central Library

Pop[ular] Punk

Featuring Cowabunga!

Cowabunga!Cowabunga! is a pop punk band from Northern Virginia composed of Ian Marsh, Keven Loiselle, Joe Murray, Tommy Wiseman, and Jordan Black. Not your stereotypical collection of 20-something burnouts, these boys mix hardcore house shows with full-time course loads. They've survived college, numerous tours along the East Coast, Virginia's super storms, and still managed to make time to release three EPs, with another on the way. And that's not the most impressive thing about these guys from Washington's backyard.

I had the pleasure to chat with these guys between shows this past July. Read on to learn more about their tour life, recording process, first kisses, future plans and whether or not they think Chad Gilbert and Hayley Williams will last.
I stumbled across your album “Swinging for the Fences” on iTunes and I fell in love with it right away. I looked you up and saw that we’re practically neighbors. Was that power outage stupid or what? 

Ian: Thanks so much! I really think we grew a lot with that record. That power outage was SO ANNOYING! I was actually out with Keven, our drummer. We had just gotten into the restaurant with my cousin before the rain hit. Literally 10 seconds before. Haha.

It was lucky, but when we got home, there was no power. I had family in town and I live in the country so we didn’t have water for showers and I had to bum them off my friends for a day or so. Haha. But we got it back and cooled down pretty fast, so it wasn’t that bad, I guess.

Ian Marsh and Keven Loiselle at graduationWhen I was checking out your Facebook page, I noticed you guys are not only a full-time band, you’re full-time students. That’s pretty impressive. Done with school?

Ian: Yep! We started the band when Keven, myself and our original singer were sophomores in college. Literally days after graduation, we hit the road and have been able to do longer tours since we’re done with school. Our other guitar player Jordan goes back to school this fall though, so we will just have to plan stuff further in advance.

Jordan: No, I took a year off and am going back full-time to Towson University.

Keven Loiselle on TwitterWhich ones of you went to Tech? I went to Radford before I transferred to UVA. True or false: You think Hokies are better than Hoos.

Ian: Keven and I went to Tech. I actually went to Radford my freshman year and transferred to Tech! I’m going to omit the last part and let the football speak for itself ;)

One of you has a tattoo of the state of Virginia. Which one is it? Born and bred in the V-A? Would you ever consider relocating to another state?

Ian: That’s Tommy, our singer. We’ve all grown up in VA, so it’d be pretty hard to leave. BUT my dream of being a country singer might require a move to Nashville. Haha.

Something Left to Prove EPOn your Facebook, I’ve seen kids from the UK begging you to tour there. Is it weird to know your music has crossed oceans and that some kids you’ve never met are listening to you right now?

Ian: It’s so crazy! When we started out and actively used MySpace, we got adds from kids all over and it’s still just as crazy that songs we write in Keven’s basement hit kids' ears anywhere outside of Keven’s basement, but we wouldn’t change it for the world.

I can’t tell you how cool it is to ship merch overseas. The lady at the post office knows me pretty well. Haha.

If you could tour anywhere with anyone, where would you go and who with?

Ian: I think I can speak for everyone in our band when I say New Found Glory. Seems like everyone listened to them in seventh grade, but we still do and they’re a huge influence. We would tour anywhere with them! Haha.

Summer EPWorst tour experience? Best tour experience?

We've had some awesome experiences on the road. I’d say our worst experience would have to have been the last tour. We went out with our friends Nothing to Prove. Money was tight going into it, and we played some… uh… rough shows, but that’s all part of the game. Regardless of how many kids were at the show, at least one kid singing along is all we really need.

Unfortunately, Nothing To Prove had to drop off most of the tour, so we didn’t get to establish those awesome friendships we would have liked to.

Our best tour experience was our entire December tour. Two weeks with our friends Such is Life out of Maryland. Our friends in Why Try? were filling in for them and those guys are some of our best friends in the world. We also played a show in Springfield, Mo. with The Story So Far and Daytrader. The show was packed and tons of kids knew who we were and sang along, stagedove, grabbed the mic. It was awesome.

You can check out a video of it here.

Swing for the Fences EPHow was the show last night? Stoked for tonight’s show?

Ian: Last night was AWESOME! We have some good friends in Virginia Beach, and there are always a bunch of good kids out at those shows! Our friends in I Time Bomb are coming with us to the show tonight and it should be a blast.

Wings: Boneless or original? Go.

Ian: I say boneless, but that may make me less manly.

Joe: Original all the way. I worked in a wing place so it's got to be traditional w/hot [sauce] and bleu cheese, of course.

Jordan: Traditional wings and any hot sauce.

Cowabunga BBQYou just spent some time in the studio recording a new album in Massachusetts. Are you happy with the album so far?

We’re so happy with the new record. Our buddy Mike from On Broken Wings engineered it and we really can’t wait for kids to hear it! It’s called "Thanks For Nothing" and I think kids are going to relate to these songs a lot more than our old ones.

It’s best to sing about real stuff, and we definitely tried to do that on this record.

Jordan: I am very happy! It is my first experience joining a new [band] and writing with new people rather than writing all the old music for my other band.

When can we expect a final product? When’s your next tour?

Ian: We’re hoping to get it out in September, but may push it back so we can do a video and get some shows together!

What can we expect from the final product?

Jordan: Raw gritty music from the heart.

Tommy Wiseman recording vocalsIan, you could grow a mean beard if you wanted to. As a proud member of Beard Team USA, I want to know: Ever consider competing at the national level? They give cash prizes.

Ian: Haha, I would LOVE to do that, but it gets too itchy and I have to shave it every once in a while. Haha.

Keven, what’s with the camo?

Keven: I grew up on military base because my dad was in the army. Camo was everywhere, so I guess I got used to it. Haha. I've worn camo shorts all my life. Probably not the most stylish look, but it's all good.

Also, Realtree and Mossy Oak shirts are my new thing, watch out!

One of you said New Found Glory was the ultimate band to tour with (or maybe just favorite in general) – Chad Gilbert now has a pre-order up for his solo album on Bridge Nine Records. Going to order it? (Ironically, Gilbert’s been dating the lead singer from Paramore for a while now; do you think they’ll last?)

Ian: New Found Glory is definitely the ultimate band, those dudes have been around forever and don’t seem to be going anywhere. Every time I’ve met them they’ve all been awesome! I have Chad’s earlier solo stuff, but haven’t really checked out the new What’s Eating Gilbert… I need to get on that! Haha.

I’m on Team Chad and Hayley, but I support love. Haha. I hope they last.

Ian Marsh on TwitterThe “Rules for dating a musician” post on your Facebook –who posted that?

Ian: One of my buddies had that posted on his wall, so I thought it would be funny to share on ours. It got some pretty funny reactions… too bad none of us have girlfriends :/

Do you think you’ll always be playing Pop Punk? Tell me about the other bands you’re in.

Ian: I think we all like pop punk, but we’re getting older. We have a bunch of “side projects” if you want to call them that. Haha.

We’re in a ‘secret’ hardcore band we’ve yet to record. Keven, Joe and I did a southern rock project called Grizzly Adams. I’m doing some solo country stuff. I think it depends on the day what bands were all in. Haha.

Cowabunga is just the only one people know about. Haha.

Jordan: Yes and no. I love the music, but I want to expand into different styles. I would love to be a backing musician for a pop artist or rap group. Honestly just playing any style of music for a living would be cool.

Joe 'Merica on TwitterYou guys are all over the place. How often do you meet up to practice and write music?

Ian: We try to meet up every Sunday and jam. We have been working on the new record, but now it’s time to buckle down and get sets together.

We have to practice old stuff too, because those are the songs people want to hear.

First kiss? Memorable?

Ian: My first kiss was this girl Renee in like fifth grade I think… I still keep in touch with her, but don’t see us kissing anytime soon. I got started as a heartbreak-ee early on. Haha. Guess that’s where the lyrics come from.

Joe: My first kiss was kindergarten in music lab. I saw a cute girl named Collen and told her to kiss me. Then followed many years of disapointment, haha.

Keven: My first kiss was in fourth grade out in the woods. We were out playing in the snow and I asked her to kiss me.

Tommy: I was roughly 10 and she was my childhood love. I still consider her a friend today!

Jordan: Yes, I kissed a girl in like third grade. It was interesting but mad cute.

Joe Murray's Collection of VansJoe, did you have fun recording the album? On Twitter I saw “Born to fish, forced to work” – what’s the biggest fish you caught?

Joe: I had a blast in the studio. Any time I'm with my bros is always a good time.

I'd say the biggst fish I've ever caught was a 15-pound red snapper when I was deep sea fishing with my uncle in the Gulf of Mexico.

Joe, I saw all those Vans sneakers on your Twitter. Would you ever consider switching to Macbeths?

Joe: I used to manage shoe stores like Vans and Journeys a few years ago. The employee discount got me all of those. Haha. I have a few Macbeths, [but] the Vans are more my style, and also if you ever saw me on a skateboard you'd laugh. I have zero coordination.

Tell me what you really think of Carousel Kings.

We’ve played a couple shows with those guys, and they’re nice dudes. They seem to be doing well and we’re happy for them.

I was friends with their original bassist but he’s not in the band anymore, so we don’t really know anyone in the band anymore. Haha.

Ian Marsh on TwitterJordan, you said you’re the driver. Do you use a GPS or just your manly instincts to navigate the roads?

Jordan: Both. If I never have been there I will use a GPS but once I've been a couple times I usually can get back there easily with little help.

I hate being lost so that’s why I usually offer to drive and, well, also so I can listen to what music I want to listen to.

Any avid readers in the group? What are you reading right now?

Jordan: Not an avid reader but I am reading the Game of Thrones series!!!

Would you guys ever consider playing at our central library downtown in the fall?

Yes. “Book them and they will come.” - Wayne's World II

Support local music. Support your local library.

Follow Cowabunga! on Twitter: @cowabungamusic
Find Cowabunga! on Facebook:  www.facebook.com/cowabungamusic
Listen to Cowabunga! on BandCamp: http://cowabungapoppunk.bandcamp.com/
- A. Quarles