Cold Weather Company trio offers warm musical relief

cold weather company interview


From left, Brian Curry, Steve Shimchick and Jeff Petescia of Cold Weather Company.

The trio Cold Weather Company came together in 2013 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, and their name reflects the strong bond between the musicians.

“Originally, every fledgling little band has their arguments about what should the title of our band be?,” said singer-songwriter-guitarist Brian Curry. “We kind of bounced ideas around for three weeks, just back and forth texting, and we went scientific with it. (laughs) We had posters out and we were like, ‘Who are we? What do we want our music to represent?’ Eventually we were like, ‘Cold Water Canvas sounds cool and it is cold outside right now,’ but it wasn’t good enough, and we ended up switching back to Cold Weather Company with the idea that we wanted to create music that would get people through those colder months.

“Speaking for myself, I’ve always been someone who suffers with seasonal depression and depression in general, and to be able to find that companionship with (singer-songwriter-guitarist) Jeff (Petescia) and (singer-songwriter) Steve (Shimchick) at that moment in my life … that brought a lot of warmth to me. There’s a lot of layers to the meaning, but largely it’s kind of just Cold Weather Company: music that’s there for you when you need it.”

Shimchick added that the name is “playing back into that idea of how we became the company for each other while playing and writing together in the early days, and we still are, of course. But as our songs got out there and listeners started to connect with them … it’s always encouraging when they start realizing, ‘Oh, this is company for me, too.’ The whole community and people listening to them … we found that the songs are company for people all over the world now, too, and it’s a really humbling kind of experience outside of solely the three of us being able to support each other through playing.”

“It shows in the songs we write, too,” said Curry. “The three of us, despite having very different personal styles and tastes and playing, all tend to write therapeutically for ourselves, sort of as self-therapy. Sort of an exercise of piecing together a mental puzzle that you’ve been dealing with, and by writing the song you’re attempting to solve it for yourself. I think if you’re doing that honestly it will hopefully come across and, like Steve said, it’s been a heck of a humbling experience seeing that start happening.”

The band’s fourth album is in the works. “We’re going to be releasing four songs from that as the first EP,” said Shimchick. “The album is due out later this year, as it’s been in the works for a while, but the EP we are aiming to have out by March or April … it is going to be called Coalescence … and the subsequent EPs will be volumes 1, 2 and 3.”

“Part of the release process,” Curry said, “is to try and figure out new ways to go about releasing the album, with one of the concepts being how we can tie the songs together and bring them out, with each song receiving the attention that we want them to get. Having been working on these songs for the past two years, we’re trying to see what kind of ideas that we can have in the release realm. … With the pandemic, we’re kind of hedging our bets that people are looking for more than singles these days, and so, basically, rather than releasing three singles from the album, we are releasing the album in three parts.”

“We also know there is fatigue when you have a 50-plus-minute album these days … if you even look at our Spotify, the further you go down the songs, the fewer streams it has,” said Shimchick. “So this is to try something new and also to allow a new marketing point where we are doing different video and promotional packages for each EP, which will be a new fun thing versus focusing on just one song or leading up to an album itself.”

Curry said the band is “in the process of working with a really great friend of ours who is a phenomenal graphic artist: Our hope is to create album artwork that will function as a panorama. Vol. 1 would be on the left, Vol. 2 on the right and Vol. 3 in the middle … when you put all three of those pictures together, it creates one landscape.”

Working as a three-piece with no drums during live performances has not been a problem, but that has never prevented the threesome from using drums on studio recordings. As a matter of fact, they enjoy the vibe a drum track can provide.

“We never had drums until the last couple of songs on our second album, and then the third album was where we started with the drums during the recording process. Doing it that way, we were actually in a groove of sorts, but a lot of our early releases had a flow, a push and pull in a good way, where it was like, ‘Hey, these guys are grooving,’ and that was how we imagined it.”

Ah yes, the all-important “groove.” But when a pandemic hits and plans are altered to the point where not even Stella can get her groove back, what do you do with your time?

“The album has been fully recorded for a few months now and we’ve been hearing mixes and changing mixes, doing this and changing that,” said Curry. “It’s definitely not an exercise in being fickle as much as it’s being able to take the time to listen through these mixes and let the songs grow on us. Listen objectively to a point where we can sort of re-approach the songs to see if we missed anything, see if there’s any extra little melodies that are hiding behind that can be brought out.

“This is the first time that we have had this sort of deep breath to take, to really take that curation time.”

Craving the connection that any performer gets from a live audience is commonplace in this sequestered climate, but these three are finding ways to not only engage their fan base, but to create an entire network. Or should I say community?

“We’ve been doing a lot over the past year, just trying to be there for our community and find ways to collaborate and do different activities,” said Shimchick. “Just the other day, we had another Zoom open mic, and those have been really fun. We kicked them off back in March or April because we knew that we weren’t traveling or playing shows and we thought it was a great way to engage with our audience and also to allow our listeners to share their art with others. We have this thing, ‘The Cold Weather Collective,’ which is essentially that group of listeners and friends who are visual artists, musicians, poets … they’re in theater and in all sorts of cool stuff. I’ve really been moved by watching them and trying to use our platform to bring them together. We’ve spent a lot of effort doing that over the past couple of months and that community has gotten closer. They are showing up for each other’s livestreams and different events and it’s just a really cool bonus kind of thing.

“I think we just knew: Here’s our opportunity to actually connect with people around the world in a way that we never have before, because people haven’t had the time. So these are going on pretty much every two weeks on Zoom. Anyone can join and just hang out. There’s a couple dozen of us, typically just playing songs, screen sharing art and playing games. It’s been a lot of fun. Although it is open to everybody, you have to message us for the links, because with putting Zoom links out there to the world they can get turned around with some undesirables. So if you want to perform or have a friend who wants to perform, or join the audience, send us a message and we will send the link to them. Instagram has been our main social media focus these days, but we also add them to our tour calendar.”

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