Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.
Sheena Powell (vocals): Since COVID-19, my world has been a bit overwhelming, to say the least. I’ve spent most of the pandemic working, and whatever time I had left, writing poetry and getting as much rest as possible. Right now, I am working on a book of short stories and poems about my life. Hopefully, I’m able to release it sometime in early 2021.
Another project that I’m hoping to get finished in the early months of 2021 is the SATNB sophomore album. I was really looking forward to us releasing it this year, but like many things, COVID canceled those plans. I’m optimistic about the future despite of all the “drama” 2020 has put all of us through. I know SATNB has a bright future ahead, and there’s nowhere to go but up!
Kermit Lyman (guitar): The months preceding COVID lockdown were particularly difficult for me on a personal level, so being furloughed and quarantined was just the icing on a cake of divorce and dead friends. With nothing to do but get high, play the guitar, listen to records and hang out with my cat, I’ve made the best of a situation that could have gone very badly.
I was inspired to assemble an EP of solo material as well as to engage in a number of collaborations, including a proggy death-metal demo and drum instructional video with Jon Kois (RunHideFight). Doc and I worked out a tune called “Summer Of Shove” with proceeds benefiting the Philadelphia chapter of Black Lives Matter. SATNB contributed a track to Fuel The Fight, a Philadelphia-based compilation benefitting essential workers. Music from an unreleased split seven-inch featuring all three Nosebleeds also finally found its way into the digital realm after nearly eight years. Better late than never, I suppose.
I have been fixing the hell out of my gear. I’d amassed a large quantity of nonfunctioning musical equipment over the last few decades, so now I have an abundance of working items in my possession. I was able to help out at Red Planet Sound And Rehearsal as they prepared to reconfigure for a post-pandemic world. I have also assisted friends in endeavors that are technically outside the approval of law, but shouldn’t be. Being at least a little productive every day definitely helps me maintain my sanity, and even if it’s not musical, it can still be meaningful.
At the moment, a daunting task is dismantling our rehearsal space. I am leaving my spot of more than 15 years and our base of sonic operations for the last 10 must go with it. There’s lots of wiring, but even more memories. Better things lie ahead, no question.
Like everyone else, I’m looking forward to finishing the record we tracked in February, and I can’t wait to make noise in the same room with my closest friends again, but I’m gonna keep making noise regardless. I more eagerly anticipate November 3, where we can all work together to cure another very real and deadly disease. Please vote.
Kevin James Cooper (bass): When I was about 19 or so, I learned how to play bass by joining band that had a month-and-half tour booked and their bass player just quit. It didn’t matter so much that I barely knew the rudiments of the instrument. “It’s a punk band—just jump around and hit the notes,” was what I was told. 25 years later, I’m still doing the same. Most of them with my brother, Kermit.
During this time, I learned a trade: painting. The eventual goal of working for myself was achieved. I started working for myself and was able to earn a living and, most importantly, not have a boss. During this time, my life hasn’t really changed. I wake up, put paint on things, go home. Repeat. What I found and still find hard to deal with during this is not being able to make loud sounds with my friends. The one thing that was/is a release to the stresses of life. This problem is bullshit compared to what others go through daily.
Chris “Doc” Kulp (drums): With all the isolation brought on by COVID-19, there’s no doubt our realities have taken great shifts. I do work on my own music from time to time, mainly instrumental pieces here and there, but rarely do I get time to put together a finished product that can be shared. In truth, I’ve been spending most of my time developing lessons and videos for all my music students in the fall. This means a lot of time is spent away from the drumset, and more time on other instruments.
I miss the ability to truly let it all out behind the drum set with SATNB. We had some really great shows in 2019, and who knows how long it will be until we get back to that world. But in the meantime, I know we are looking for a virtual means of collaboration. I am looking forward to how that pans out, because there was an artistic and emotional outlet in those performances, even if it was just a practice in Kit’s attic. It was something to look forward to. Also, we were in the midst of finishing a new album, and I am looking forward to hearing that finished product.