Local band Soft Cough—made up of Geneseo seniors bassist and vocalist Tom Kohn, guitarist and vocalist Dan Pugh, drummer Ben Freiman and guitarist and vocalist Nick Koithan—gathered to discuss the release of their self-titled debut album and their plans for the future. Their album was met with large acclaim from the Geneseo music scene and the surrounding area, reaching Syracuse, Buffalo and even down to New York City where the band will be performing this semester. The band expressed their happiness with the positive reaction to the first album, noting that this encouraging feedback has only made them more excited to release their second album.
“We just want to do another one,” Pugh said. “I think we’re chasing that high again.”
The typical songwriting process for Soft Cough usually involves band members recording a demo of what they think the song will sound like and then playing it for the other members. Normally, lyrics are inspired by interesting turns of phrase. One example comes on the track “Mouthbreather”—Koithan thinks that “mouthbreather” is a funny insult, leading to the group’s exploration of that idea in the song.
Soft Cough isn’t afraid to borrow from literature either. Pugh was inspired to borrow the line “unspeakable boilings and tearings apart” from Maxine Hong Kingston’s memoir The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts.
The band is currently writing new songs even though they have a plethora of recorded songs that weren’t released on their first album. Soft Cough fans can expect to hear a version of “Trebuchet” appear on a compilation album from Indiana record label Headdress Records.
The biggest standout from the self-titled album is “Seadogs & Pyrite,” which has inspired several covers online and has been heard in basements all across Geneseo. The song also received a huge reaction at a recent show they played in Syracuse. Pugh—who wrote the song—explained that the band didn’t expect such an overwhelming reaction for the track, but he knew it was a special one.
“I wrote it differently than the other songs,” Pugh said. “[Since] I got the music done very early, [I figured] there’s a bunch of shit that I want to say, so I’m going to take this and however long it takes to say it, that’s when the song’s going to be done. Usually, I just have lyrics that match up coincidentally with songs I’ve written. It was the first song that I felt like I needed to write.”
Another huge hit from the record is “Jackson Pollock,” a song written by Kohn. Kohn admitted that the song came from an embarrassing attempt to impress a girl with his art history knowledge. “I wrote the song to keep myself in check,” he said. “I’m making fun of myself, essentially and that’s the most therapeutic way to do it.”
As for the future, band members agreed to continue making music together after graduation. “We made most of the first album across the state,” Freiman said. “I think we can keep doing that.”
Soft Cough was excited to promote the release of their upcoming tapes on Shammy Tapes. They also mentioned plans to record a live set in Syracuse. Things are looking bright for the local band and their fan base has a lot to look forward to in the near future.