In 2004, a 19-year-old Mormon singer from Vista, California, sent in an acoustic demo tape to a band that was, in his mind, already legendary. Saosin had only released one EP, Translating the Name, but it became so popular through touring and careful use of online social networking that the EP sold tens of thousands of copies. Not long into 2004, however, vocalist Anthony Green, who was feeling homesick and dissatisfied with the direction of the band, left to form Circa Survive, and a nation-wide audition then took place to find a new singer.
When Beau Burchell, guitarist of Saosin, first heard Cove Reber’s audition tape, he thought Anthony was playing a trick on them, because Cove’s vocals sounded so much like Anthony’s. It was no joke. Cove, though young, already had experience playing in local bands Mormon in the Middle and Stamp Out Detroit, and his vocal similarity to the Saosin’s founding singer got him hired. For Cove, it was a dream come true to be hired by a band he looked up to so much. Fan reaction was mixed.
“Mixed” is actually a pretty diplomatic word for what happened. Clashes between Anthony and Cove fans online were, in a word, epic. In fact, filling Anthony Green’s shoes proved to be an uphill battle for Cove throughout his entire time with Saosin. If you want proof, read the comments section of any Saosin video on YouTube. Cove and Anthony fans argue about their live singing styles, stage presence, lyrics, and contributions to the feel and songwriting of the band, and it got pretty brutal at times. Cove went on to record two full-length studio albums, two EPs, and tour around the world with Saosin for six years, but through all this, he still had trouble endearing himself to the hard-core fans who longed for the days of Anthony Green, who was with the band for less than a year and was only featured on their first EP. Despite the band’s heavy usage of the Internet to get their music out, Cove tried to avoid online discussions and the band’s official message board to keep himself from the drama that took place there.
Cove turned out to be a real trouper. Replacing a popular band member is one of the worst situations a musician can find him/herself in (ask Ringo Starr, Sammy Hagar, or Ronnie James Dio about that), and this was Cove’s first real job in a band. He was very young when he joined and only had local band experience in California. Fans perpetually wondered about his Mormon faith, and Cove was seen on his tour bus with a set of scriptures in backstage band videos. Though not a spokesman for the church, Cove seemed always self-aware of his clean reputation amongst fans.
In July of 2010, after six years of recording albums and touring, Saosin announced that Cove would no longer be singing with the band. This came as a shock to Cove-lovers and a relief to Green-lovers, but not surprising to Cove himself. Apparently, the pressure and adversity had begun to wear down on him, and fans began complaining about a decline in his live performances. This criticism began trickling into the band itself, and Cove had found himself the target of pointed comments from the very band he had so idolized in his youth. He expressed later that he knew his time with Saosin was soon coming to a close, and this seemed to make him more downtrodden than ever. The blows to his confidence, the primary ingredient for any front-man and lead singer, turned into a negative feedback loop.
It was guitarist Beau Burchell who published a note on the band’s message board saying that they had let Cove go. From the note:
well, a few days ago, alex, justin, chris and i got back into the studio for our first group writing/jam session. we have all been writing things on our own, but it was cool to get into a room and play with loud ass amps all together again. i am very excited about this record, for a few different reasons.
1. i have been so busy producing and mixing bands lately, and i love it. finally getting back in the swing of things, so it will be a miracle if i can rip myself away from other projects long enough to finish a saosin record.
2. we have no label, which means we can do whatever we want. we dont have to worry about outputting garbage singles that none of us believe in, or selling records. its going to be nice.. just like the days of ttn.
3. NOT having a camera on me the whole time.
4. after 5 years with cove, we have decided to part ways. so it will be a new experience for us, not knowing what to expect in the vocal dept, who will replace him, or if we will even find a replacement this century.
thats all for now…
A buzz of speculation followed the note, and fans furiously and energetically typed out frenzied message board and YouTube discussions to try to find explanations for the move. Was Cove fired or did he quit? If he was fired, what for? Was it the dreadlocks? Was Anthony Green coming back? What was Cove going to do now? Some speculated that Saosin was about to break up completely. Others wondered if Cove was fired for not smoking weed with the rest of the band. Justin Shekoski, the other guitar player in Saosin, responded to this last suggestion with a flippant and insensitive gesture on the official message board:
We kicked cove out of the band because his stage performance and vocal performances were on a downward spiral.
We didn’t feel he could represent the Music that we have recorded well on stage.
We are not on a record label! Virgin (since that’s the label we were on) didnt have anything to do with the firing, they dropped us before it all went down.
We didn’t kick him out because he has long hair or because he doesn’t look like us haha, I have long hair as well.
And the part about cove being “clean”? This must be a joke. He was the only member of Saosin that smokes cigarettes, religiously. if that’s not mind altering enough for you mormons, I have smoked the devils Lettace (weed) with him tons of times. oh, Drinking with cove is also fun I must say. I hope none of you judge him for it because it’s his life. Free will. I’m saying this because everyone has their vises and coves not exempt from that list. Either way you can smoke as much as you want for all I care, just as long as your voice sounds great. the problem is that smoking for him is like me warming up for a show by hitting a brick wall with my bare hands.
Listen, all I’m saying is that if you do actualy know cove or the situation, than either you are delusional or you are straight up lying to anyone dumb enough to go on YouTube and actually think you know what you are talking about.
Just try to keep it real.
Party on Garth,
First of all, can I just say that it’s almost refreshing that a rock star drinking or smoking could be controversial these days? But second of all, Justin’s callous (and as we found out later, stoned) airing of Cove’s dirty laundry to an audience that saw him as a lovable straight-edge kid was really a classy move. It showed what everyone had suspected all along: there was a significant amount of tension between Cove and the band over his performances, energy, and stamina. The unfortunate result of the discussion was that Cove’s other vices were “outed” by his own former band-mate in front of thousands of Saosin fans. Justin may not have realized the awkward position he was putting Cove in, but the damage was done.
How did Cove respond to Justin’s post? Actually, pretty well. This is the post he put up on his Facebook and Tumblr page, soon afterward:
[Part 1 Will Be Coming Soon, I Promise.]
In 2003, I fell in love with a band that not only changed the way that I viewed music, but also inspired me to pursue my dreams. In 2004, the members of that very band that I was madly in love with took a giant risk and gave me, the worlds biggest Saosin fan, a shot. I got to play and make music with my heroes. Even now, Justin, Alex, Beau and Chris are living legends in my mind. It’s not very often that you hear someone say that they had the amazing privilege of working with people they so highly admire and respect.
But all bands have their problems and we were no exception. It all started with one comment directed towards me. That seemingly small comment completely drained every ounce of confidence I had worked so hard to build up. Not only did it completely catch me off guard, but not one of my heroes stood up for me, let alone acknowledged that the comment made was truly uncalled for. Thinking you’ve let your heroes down in even the smallest way really freaking sucks.
I’m sorry if any of you feel ripped off from my live performances- I take that to heart because every night that I get up on stage, I’m doing it for you guys- for the fans who come to our shows and show us support. As far as smoking goes, it’s not something I intentionally hid but it’s definitely not a habit I wanted to broadcast or promote. Let me make this crystal clear, it’s not a cool thing to do. Anyone who says it is “cool” is flat out lying to you. We all have our demons and this is one I struggle with.
For a while now, I had been feeling like it was only a matter of time until my end with Saosin was going to come. I’m just glad I got to sing, write, and record songs with my heroes. For those of you who feel like my role in Saosin was a dominant one, for better or for worse, it wasn’t; every decision we made, we made together. Whether you feel like my departure is positive or negative, I really do wish Justin, Beau, Chris and Alex the best of luck and I will always support them in all that they do.
Now that that’s off my chest, life has been treating me awesome these days. The passion and love for music I felt I had lost is back, my confidence is growing daily, and I really can’t wait to show you all what I’ve been working on. Thank you all for giving me the wonderful opportunity to live out my dream over the last 6 years. It was one hell of a ride, but I truly believe that the best is yet to come.
Cove’s response seems disarmingly dignified considering what he had gone through. He didn’t strike back at the band or turn the exchange into some kind of a feud. Cove wasn’t necessarily hiding his bad habits from fans, but the guy was obviously sensitive about his influence on people, and that’s a good thing. But I think the most striking take-away message of Cove’s response was the fact that, deep down, Cove is, in many ways, the same 19-year-old kid who so idolized Saosin back in 2004. I can’t help feeling that Cove didn’t get a fair shake out of this whole deal, but I know there are legions of Saosin message board dwellers who would disagree with me. The point is, it’s not easy being Cove Reber.
What has Cove been doing since all this went down? Is he going to be the next Johnny Virgil? I doubt it, though Cove has wisely withdrawn from broadcasting things online over the last year. At the end of 2010, Cove announced that he is opening a recording studio and will be helping local bands in Vista record albums and demos. But recording studios have always been a risky venture, and Cove has been silent about what plans he might have about a career in music. I think we haven’t seen the last of Cove, but if I were him, I’d be taking a long, deep look at myself and where I’m headed, and a little vacation too. From his behavior online, it looks like he’s been doing just that.