If you type in “Couch Dog” on Google, what you’re going to find are variations of an article titled “Should Dogs be Allowed on the Furniture?” After talking with the SLO-based, surf rocky band Couch Dog I have the answer: no.
Their self-described thrashy, fast, hectic, and anxious sound is bound to get you up off the couch and onto your feet. Plus, I personally would not let an energetic, nervous pooch onto my couch out of fear that it’s one tremor away from pissing itself.
This is exactly what the band loves about their title. “I like the inverted expectation,” says front-man Max Ferrer. “When I think of Couch Dog I don’t think of mosh music. I think of an old guy who doesn’t really walk around that much anymore. He just hangs out on the couch. He’s the guy you snuggle with when you watch TV at night.”
The band has taken the idea of mismatched expectations and ran with it for their first EP Bad and Better than Ever. When describing the album, lead-guitarist Pablo Acosta emphasized the oxymoronic nature of the sound versus the lyrics. “In the album there’s a lot of polarity. It sounds really happy, upbeat, and friendly but there’s some heaviness to it because when you listen to the lyrics you’re like, ‘Wow, this is kind of sad.’”
Max added on explaining how the title of the EP riffs off the album’s juxtaposing elements. “It started off as just a stupid joke. I was like, ‘We’re coming out of quarantine. Like, we’re playing shows. We’re back, we’re better than ever!’ But then that self-deprecating humor came in where we’re like, ‘Agh we suck. We’re playing shitty surf rock! We’re BAD and better than ever baybee!’ Part of it also says that just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean that you can’t also kinda be thriving. Sometimes because of school I feel like dog shit and then we get to do practice and it’s pretty nice.”
The production of the EP also plays into the theme of opposition. Max, who writes the lyrics and chord progressions for the band, described the studio version of the EP as more polished compared to the live version. This is intentional because he wants the experiences of seeing Bad and Better than Ever live and listening to it on your phone to stand on their own. “There are three different ways that a concert can go in my opinion. It’s either like you see [the band] and you’re like, ‘someone did some work in the studio on these guys, like something doesn’t sound right.’ Or you see them and you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s it. That sounds like their music.’ And then the last one is–I really love it when bands will have a song that has way more energy when they play it live. It’s just like a different vibe, and I really, really appreciate that.”
The bandmates also embody different roles within the unit of Couch Dog, and they know this (and each other) very well. Over a series of questions ranging from ‘what is your most salient identity?’ to ‘what type of pasta are you?’ the band’s harmonious disharmony became apparent. Pablo as the frenetic farfalle (bow tie pasta) keeps the energy up while Max the anxious tortellini (filled with cheese) binds the group together with his lyrics and melodies. Meanwhile, Tasha the rotini (spiral pasta) fills the breaks with her bass licks that are “a little bit extra and a little bit fun” while Josh the vibey conchiglie (shell pasta) matches everyone’s energy. Together Couch Dog is one big, neatly packaged ravioli filled with many cheese varieties.
They also are aware of the different primal energies they bring to the mix. When each group member had to pick which animal (rat, dog, cat, fish, bird, reptile or insect) each member embodies there was a relative consensus. On the count of three, at least two members said the same animal for each person. So the results are as follows: Josh = Fish, Tasha = Reptile, Max = Rat, and Pablo = bird. No dogs to be found in Couch Dog, which is pretty silly.
And for all of you who care to know Josh is a Sagittarius, Tasha and Max are BOTH Aquarius suns AND Virgo Moons, and Pablo the bird is a Taurus.
Sorry about that. I know some readers, including myself, really value that knowledge. For everyone else reading, come by the Jeffrey House on November 5th at 7 pm for a mosh-heavy experience if you’re interested in seeing these polarizing individuals bring their sound to life. Alternatively, stream Bad and Better than Ever for a more polished listen, also out November 5th. Or do both, you won’t regret it.
Delaney Faherty is WAV’s Editor-in-Chief. She conducted the interview and wrote the article. Grace Therriault is WAV’s Creative Director. She created the graphic.