It’s impossible to listen to The Storm (streaming here), the tight, well-produced psych-rock debut from Raleigh-based recording project Cocoon, without thinking of another band — one that no longer exists. Josh Pope, the man behind the Cocoon moniker, was once the frontman of The Light Pines, a band that rode a similar sound to the brink of national recognition before breaking up last summer.
The comparison is obvious: One, this record sounds an awful lot like The Light Pines. Two, Pope initially posted the EP to Bandcamp as the Pines before switching the name to Cocoon. The Independent caught up with Pope to ask him about his new project, the name change and his plans for the future.
Independent Weekly: Tell me about how Cocoon came about. When did you start working on these new songs?
Josh Pope: After The Light Pines broke up in July of last year, I took the rest of the year off from writing music. I got the urge to start writing again about a month and a half ago, and these songs are what I’ve done thus far.
You first posted the EP under the Light Pines moniker. Why did you change it?
When I initially posted the songs it hadn’t even occurred to me to change the band name. Once they were posted there were some objections from former members of the band about me releasing new music as “The Light Pines.” I was never that attached to the name, so I pulled the songs off Bandcamp, came up with another name and re-posted the songs.
Did you record these songs on your own? Tell me about the process.
Yes. These songs are me sitting in my house writing and recording. My songwriting process is best described as prompt-based. Just like a creative writer who may use a prompt as a starting point for a story, I’ll take a drumbeat, a melody, a bass line, a lyric, a guitar hook, anything that has caught my imagination, and start writing from there.
The EP is layered much in the same way that the Light Pines’ stuff was, but it’s much more rhythmic, the appeal of each element coming more from the groove than the texture. Were you going for a more rhythmic sound here?
No. In fact, I was self-conscious about these new songs lacking a rhythmic feel! There was a definite plan with The Light Pines to make the music rhythm based. I think my lack of experience at the time with engineering and recording music ultimately obscured that rhythmic agenda. There was a tendency to compensate for poor sonic fidelity by just adding more and more shit on to the track and with all that information and texture, the rhythm and groove were often lost. These new songs have a lot more space in terms of arrangement — there is still some layering — but for the most part, the tracks are less dense. I think this allows for the rhythm to come across clearer. I’m a bass player. I’m always going for a rhythmic sound.
Your narratives on these songs are a bit more concrete than the ones you released with The Light Pines. Where is that coming from?
When I first started writing music, everything I wrote was love songs—very “heart on my sleeve,” literal lyrics. I wrote this way until The Light Pines. The Light Pines was a deliberate attempt at abstraction, to get away from writing about my personal emotions and experiences. Lyrically, Cocoon seems to be falling somewhere in between the two.
You’ve said online that you have more music on the way. When and what should we expect?
I’m writing a lot and feel very inspired at the moment. As I finish new songs, I will post them on Bandcamp. I don’t really have a goal or timeline for future releases, but I would say 3–4 songs a month seems like a reasonable projection.
Do you plan to turn Cocoon into a full band, or will it remain a recording project?
To be determined.