Podcast: Cove Reber Reflects on Saosin’s “In Search of Solid Ground”

Ten years have passed since post-hardcore act Saosin released In Search of Solid Ground, the final album to feature lead vocalist Cove Reber (now in Dead American). On the latest episode of It’s All Dead, Reber joins Kiel Hauck to reflect on the events leading up to and during the recording of the album and discuss why its legacy has changed so dramatically over the past decade. Reber shares stories from the studio and explains how tensions within the band, and with their record label, impacted his experience in creating the record. Listen in, and be sure to check out Cove’s new band, Dead American!

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Posted by Kiel Hauck

Reflecting On: Saosin – In Search of Solid Ground

By the time Saosin’s second full-length album, In Search of Solid Ground, arrived in September 2009, I felt like I’d been waiting forever. In hindsight, three years doesn’t seem all that long. It would be another seven years before the band would reconvene for 2016’s Along the Shadow. New Saosin music never comes on time, but it’s usually worth the wait.

You can buy or stream In Search of Solid Ground on Apple Music.

By the time the band finally released their full-length self-titled debut in 2006, I was all-in on the band and practically obsessed with everything they did. I owned multiple t-shirts and hoodies, was in attendance at every Saosin show that came near me, constantly talked about the band with my friends, and was a frequent visitor to the band’s online message board. I followed every detail and clue I could find as the band worked on their follow-up to Saosin and waited anxiously outside a Best Buy on release day to be first in line to purchase the album.

In truth, there was no way In Search of Solid Ground could ever live up to my expectations, which had reached a crescendo by the time I picked up The Grey EP the previous fall during the band’s fall tour with Underoath. Saosin was more than an album to me – it was a life experience. It was the kind of record that shapes your musical tastes for the better part of a decade. It was the kind of record you measure every other record against.

But even if a voice inside my head told me that In Search of Solid Ground wasn’t all I had hoped for, I brushed those notions aside and repeatedly dove into the album day after day. First, it was the revamped demos of “I Keep My Secrets Safe”, “The Worst of Me” and “Why Can’t You See?” that grabbed my attention. Then it was upbeat tracks like “Deep Down”, “Changing”, and “Is This Real?” that took center stage. Finally, it was the odd, experimental tracks like “Say Goodbye” and “Fireflies (Light Messengers)” that stole my heart.

Over the past 10 years, In Search of Solid Ground has become a unique kind of record in my collection. One that I revisit once or twice a year and think back to a time when a band could make me feel the way Saosin did, and really no other band has since. Of all of the band’s releases, it’s the one I reach for the least, but it was undoubtedly the one I was most in-the-moment with at the time it released.

To look back, it’s easy to see why the album didn’t land for many fans. Its logjam of producers certainly led to a lack of direction. There’s a little something for everyone on the album, but not necessarily for longtime fans of the band’s chaotic early sound. In Search of Solid Ground contains actual pop songs (“It’s All Over Now”, “What Were We Made For?”) while still containing heavier moments that don’t quite fit in with the rest of the band’s catalogue. If you had to label the album, you’d probably call it alternative rock, but even that ambiguous term fails to capture the full breadth of sounds displayed here. Over time, I’ve found it best to digest the album in various chunks that fit together.

It’s true that I wish the album had contained more of the wild guitar work from Beau Burchell and Justin Shekoski, blistering drums from Alex Rodriguez, and soaring vocals from Cove Reber that had defined their earlier work. But the thing is, the earlier work is kind of perfect – what was left to prove? If In Search of Solid Ground was either an experimental journey for the band or a last gasp before a 2010 fallout left the band nearly defunct, it’s undoubtedly a moment in time that feels different from anything else coming out of the scene at the time.

Ten years later, I’m mostly happy that the album wasn’t the band’s last. It always felt like Saosin was on the verge of either world domination or complete self-destruction, and walking that fine line resulted in some of the best and most unique sounds of the 2000s. After all this time, the band still insists on doing things their own way, which is what makes them so compelling.

And come to think of it, it’s been three years since Along the Shadow. While my youthful superfandom may be long gone, I still await anxiously what, if anything, comes next.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Whatever happened to Saosin?

saosin

Update: On February 17, it was announced that Saosin will reunite with Anthony Green as vocalist for a performance at this year’s Skate & Surf Festival. You can read more info here and listen to our podcast discussion about the reunion here.

Saosin_Tweet

It’s that time of year again.

Fans of SoCal post-hardcore act Saosin are now well accustomed to the scattered, vague assurances such as the recent Tweet above. Instead of jubilation, the general response is more of an eye-roll. You’ll have to excuse us for our lack of enthusiasm, but we’ve heard this before.

It’s been over four years since the band released their last album, the shaky and uneven In Search of Solid Ground. Shortly thereafter, vocalist Cove Reber was dismissed, but not without promise of a new and improved Saosin on the horizon.

What followed was what appeared to be an awkward public audition for former Tides of Man vocalist Tilian Pearson. The resulting product consisted of a few shrug-worthy leaked demos before Pearson began his own solo project and officially joined the ranks of Dance Gavin Dance.

In the time since, fans have been treated to erratic and ambiguous messages and rumors that serve simply to remind us that Saosin is apparently still a thing. However, what’s far more interesting than these nuggets of non-information is observing the fan response – one that is now much akin to an oddly dark kind of classic conditioning.

Upon each ringing of the bell, we collectively choose to fight back our salivating hunger for new music in favor of the most active kind of apathy. We’ll roll our eyes, but not without an audible groan to let you know that we’re still here. Still waiting.

If Fall Out Boy’s triumphant reunion last year proved anything, it’s that the shelf life for this scene might be a little longer than everyone expected. It’s true that Saosin doesn’t hold the same mainstream appeal as Fall Out Boy, but they do hold one of the most rabid underground followings that the post-hardcore genre has seen. A following that has surely dwindled to some extent during the band’s prolonged absence, but one that appears ready to reconvene at a moment’s notice – whether they’ll openly admit it or not.

Consider the groundswell of response to each Saosin release through the years. Even at their worst, everyone had an opinion to give, and in some ways, even the negative jeers were filled with a knowing tone that the band could do better. No one seemed ready to give up. That notion is the unspoken undercurrent that drives the multiple pages of responses to each Saosin “update” – even when the voices are saying, “I don’t care.”

***

One thing that became clear during the Tilian Pearson experiment is that the third time is rarely a charm in this scene. Jon Bunch may have been a great vocalist and songwriter, but how does one go about filling the shoes of Jason Gleason and Chris Carrabba? Fortunately, Further Seems Forever fans were treated to a proper re-writing of history in 2012 when the band reunited with original vocalist Carrabba after an eight-year absence.

What resulted was Penny Black – a proper return to form that would become the band’s highest charting release. A successful reunion tour even featured a cameo from Gleason, joining the band on stage for a performance of “The Sound”. If this were to be the band’s farewell, very few would complain.

Could this serve as a model for a Saosin comeback? Whisperings of a reunion with Anthony Green have persisted since Reber’s departure. Although baseless at first, Green shockingly shared the stage with Saosin guitarists Justin Shekoski and Beau Burchell for a performance of “Seven Years” just over a year ago during a solo tour. Last summer, Green admitted to Alternative Press that he would consider working with the band again “if the timing was right.”

For many fans who have spent far too long waiting, perhaps it’s easier to assume that the timing will never be right, or at least not soon enough to get excited over.

But since we’re all just spit-balling here, what about a reunion tour with both vocalists? The first half of the set could consist of Reber-era material before a short intermission, followed by Green joining the band to perform the entirety of Translating the Name. Heck, the band could even record an EP with a few songs from both vocalists to satiate fans on both sides of the fence.

Alas, any idea presented is at best speculation and, at worst, daydreaming. Perhaps the only solace is that our time wasted pondering on impossible scenarios is time that the band has spent slowly fashioning their return.

In the end, I’m fully content with spinning Translating the Name and Saosin for as long as time will allow and I suspect most fans of the band feel the same. Yet with every reminder that there is “a pulse,” I’m reminded of what has become a twisted game of cat and mouse – one that keeps me cautiously hopeful, even as I shrug it off.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.