Romance is complicated enough, but when it happens between two musicians — say, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, Johnny Cash and June Carter, or Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon — the results can be mesmerizing. And when the partners collaborate musically, these couples' fights seem more important, their affections deeper, because it leads to art. It makes us want to pick up a bass and ask our sig figs to learn the drums. Besides, the music lasts a long time, even if the relationship doesn't.
We've put together a list, in no particular order, of nine Denver musical pairs. #Relationshipgoals, anyone?
1. Plume Varia
If you really want to know what it’s like being in a band with your romantic partner, ask Cherie and Shon Cobbs of atmospheric-pop duo Plume Varia, who are celebrating their twentieth anniversary this year.
"Being in a band with your spouse is, for us, pretty natural,” Shon says. “It's not without its challenges as the lines between band and home life can often blur or even become nonexistent. In the end, though, we love it. In our long history together, we’ve found making music works for us. We wouldn't want it any other way."
Colorado Springs-based group the ReMINDers, which rocked Westword's 2015 Artopia, is made up of emcee Big Samir and vocalist Aja Black, who have shared the stage with names as big as Snoop Dogg, Big Boi and Black Star. But the group has shared another important thing with one another: a marriage that that has lasted nearly a decade.
For Dagger Dagger members Lea Birbilas and Sara Miller, things moved fast once they met. "Sara and I met while volunteering for Girls Rock Denver," Birbilas says. "There was an instant chemistry. We started hanging out and playing music in all of our spare time. We literally met in July, started a band in October, and got married in January. It can be hard to balance a relationship and music, but it challenges us to communicate effectively while playing music and beyond." Since then, the two have been making indie-rock music as a two-piece and playing for cool causes like Planned Parenthood and Girls Rock Denver.
I can’t muster up a vision more outrageously romantic than that of musicians Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley sailing around the Florida Keys, impeccably dressed, writing the dream-pop songs that would become the pair's first album, Cape Dory. But that's how it happened, and listeners can experience pangs of envy of the couple's songwriting craft and the romantic escape that fostered it.
5. Land Lines
Lead singer Martina Grbac and electronic piano/organ player James Han of Land Lines carry their chemistry from the stage to their personal lives. The two share a growing music career, including a recent national tour and an NPR Tiny Desk Concert performance, and they also share an admirable personal relationship.
6. Ancient Elk
Multi-instrumentalists Cody Coffey and Megan Crooks of Ancient Elk admit that being in a band together hasn’t always been pure romance, but they certainly seem to tolerate each other, to say the least.
"As a couple, we share each other's experiences of pain and pleasure,” explains Coffey. “We've struggled as artists together. We've had beautiful experiences with our friends together. We've lost our minds together! As songwriters, we have drawn much of our fuel for songwriting from the things we've gone through together: homelessness, loss, redemption, vice and love, to name a few."
Nothing says romance quite like two kids who meet in high school, go away to the same college, start a band and play surf-rock tracks in dark venues together. This is the story of how Jeff Koehler (vocals and guitar) and Jackie Hay’s (drums) young romance bloomed — one to tell the grandkids.
Lead singer Catie Rauhala and guitarist Christian Andrew Gutierrez of Colorado Springs-based band You Never Were, have been making what they call “Alternative Post-Emo Pretty Punk” music as a couple for over three years now.
"People like to say it's a bad and messy idea to do any work-related things with a significant other, but for us, it's been one of the best ideas we've had,” Rauhala says. “When you click creatively with another person, dating or not, it would be pointless to fight the urge to work together artistically. Working together is the perfect way for us to show utmost respect for each other's talents."
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9. Dressy Bessy
Tammy Ealom (vocals and guitar) and John Hill (guitar) are something of Denver rock-music veterans. The two have invested decades in their indie band Dressy Bessy, and have somehow managed to maintain a relationship with each other throughout the tumultuous years playing music. "We've been in Dressy Bessy together for twenty years and still kinda like each other very much," Ealom says.