Demitasse’s new album “Powercouple,” coming out next Friday, Sept. 28, presents a wide range of soft acoustic rock that settles into a place of comfort and cheerfulness, despite the issues that one faces.
Demitasse is composed of Erik Sanden, Trinity University alum, and Joe Reyes, UTSA alum. Considered as a side project, the band began in 2009 when the drummer of Buttercup — the rock band that Sanden and Reyes run as a main gig — left, resulting in the two musicians adopting a different songwriting approach than they were used to.
Sanden and Reyes described the process of writing sad songs about sick fathers, and at their core, those songs were for Sanden and Reyes alone.
They had sat on those recordings for a while before deciding to revisit them and, upon realizing how good they were, to release them as “Blue Medicine” in 2014.
In a sense, “Powercouple” continues the soft forcefulness of “Blue Medicine” while simultaneously expanding the scope of instrumentation — especially in songs like “There’s Still Beauty at the Base of the Mountain, I Swear” and “Silent Key,” which feature more rock-adjacent rhythms and compositions — and retaining the contemplative and personal nature of the songs.
“So then we began to develop an aesthetic for our writing,” Reyes said. “We were really pleased with how our first album came out, since we did it so quickly and without thinking too much about it, so then the aesthetic became: each time we were going to record, it will just be the two of us singing and playing guitar at first. So we won’t use headphones, we won’t use a click-track at first, we won’t tune anything with autotune later. We were simply gonna document how we feel in that moment, and that’s more like a snapshot of a recording, which is kinda what [musicians in general] did before [they] got to multitrack recording in the ‘60s.”
Sanden and Reyes talked about how well this quick and dirty recording method complements the nature of Demitasse as a band concerned with getting straight to the emotional center through the minimalistic instrumentation, tender vocals and the brief silence between musical phrases.
While discussing the whimsical unconventionality of Buttercup’s live concerts, Sanden noted how, despite the emphasis on fun rock performances and exciting riffs, Buttercup’s more heartfelt and earnest songs became the seeds of Demitasse’s aesthetic. While Sanden and Reyes enjoy being able to croon, they still pay close attention to the theatrics of live Demitasse performances.
“Anybody can kind of set up in a room and start to play, and [the audience would be] like, ‘Ah, okay, it sounds good,’” Reyes said. “But what if there were some other elements there? What if there was a phone that someone was gonna use to have a conversation with someone from their past? That totally amps everything up in this way.”
When asked about how working on “Powercouple” as an album compares with curating live shows, Sanden and Reyes talked about the themes that were emphasized in the album.
“[‘Powercouple’] starts and ends in this total optimism,” Sanden said. “The first line of the record is from ‘It’s Good to be Alive (Again),’ and it’s just this moment where someone flicks on the light like, ‘Surprise! You are alive, and it’s beautiful.’ … And then the album ends with this Tim Duncan-Lou Reed crazy dream [in ‘Timmy Reed’] that has the final word as ‘yes.’ It’s Lou Reed with Tim Duncan’s head just saying over and over again that everything is fine — any questions you have, the answer is yes.”
Sanden and Reyes hope the kind of magic that is present in treading unknown musical ground carries through in the songs themselves.
“In the middle there’re these honest dips that you have in life of, like, worry, but they all seem to [retain] some of this beauty,” Sanden said. “And there’s plenty of longing, but there’s — just musically, it’s gonna be fulfilled.”
“But that’s just our lives,” Reyes said. “Like for the past five years, both of us have been through the death of both of our dads, the ups-and-downs of personal relationships, and we’re both sitting here together as friends still making music, and I think that’s a victory in itself.”
Demitasse has released two singles from the album along with music videos directed by Alejandro DeHoyos — “Leave the House” and “Majic.” In addition to their album release on Sept. 28, the band will perform on Saturday Sept. 29 at the Tobin Center as a celebration of an album that the musicians themselves consider to be their best work.