Local Beat: Soft Cough makes big noise with sick sounds

Musically contagious but not quite a virus, Geneseo’s homegrown band Soft Cough is catching the attention of college students everywhere. The self-described “low-fi, janky-pop” band consists of a group of juniors: bassist Tom Kohn, guitarist Dan Pugh, guitarist Nick Koithan and drummer Ben Freiman, who all alternate singing. Collectively, the band has made its way from playing for friends around campus to playing for others at neighboring college campuses and more. Soft Cough’s dynamic is definitely a contributor to its laidback sound. “The way it works is someone will write a song and it will come to the band, we play it—jam on it for a little bit—and that person usually sings that song,” Kohn explained. “[My sound is] very funky cause I love funk music. Nick loves shredding cause he’s a dad and he likes dad rock. Dan’s stuff is very technical, which comes into play a lot in his songs. And Ben is the workforce that keeps us all on track.”

Each member has such a distinct persona that one has to wonder how an agreement on a type of style comes about. “It’s cool because we all have very different tastes in music but we [also] have some overlapping interests,” Koithan said. “We play sort of like whimsical songs that are very catchy. You can throw someone through a window when they listen to our songs or you can pat them on the back,” Kohn said.

Having just come back from playing a show at Syracuse University, the members have made an impressive effort to reach audiences beyond Geneseo. “I have a friend in Syracuse who’s involved in the music scene there and the radio station and he’s in a band, so Dan and I played there last semester—just the two of us—and earlier in the semester we tested the water [there],” Freiman said. “And [we] played a radio launch party for them in a college basement, and then this [past] show was at Spark Art Space—a multipurpose art space [where] we played with a band called Toons.”

Despite the loyal fans and friends from back home who followed Soft Cough to Syracuse, the band did observe a significant difference in Syracuse’s audience. “The Geneseo music scene is definitely more enthusiastic,” Kohn said. “More vibrant,” Freiman added.

Through their experiences, the band has noticed that although the Geneseo music scene is rapidly developing, the people here are willing to make an extra effort to simply have fun and support their friends. “People will walk, like, a mile in the snow to come to an open-mic at our house, and [at Syracuse] I feel like people will still come out and make the effort, but no one seemed like they wanted to be there,” Pugh said. “We had so much fun with the other bands though.”

It’s surprising how far Soft Cough has gotten without being online or having any distributed recorded material. Although each band member has material on Soundcloud separately, there is no Soft Cough material online just yet. “We’re so close to recording music and putting stuff together,” Kohn said. “We have stuff recorded and eventually we want to be on Soundcloud. Hopefully that’ll spread our name and get the word out. So far we’re just like a live band.”

Pugh explained how the band has received most of its invitations to play on other campuses through word of mouth. With this exposure, Soft Cough plans to connect with other campuses in the greater New York area, beginning with other SUNY schools. “If you go to a small school like Geneseo, I don’t see why you wouldn’t be proud or glad that there was a local band who consistently is putting on local [free] shows,” Kohn said.

For now, fans can look forward to a tape by the end of the semester and look forward to more news about Soft Cough’s whereabouts.