The popular MTV series The Hills recently featured music by Spouse, a band that includes Bowdoin alumni, José Ayerve ’96, Mike Merenda ’98 and Dan Pollard ’98, who each have fond memories of the band’s musical roots at the College. The group’s moniker is a shortened form of “Cheating on Spouses Can Be a Messy Management Affair,” which was the title of a psychology article that friend and fellow musician Alisha Goldblatt ’95 had been reading at a time in college when Ayerve was looking for a performing name.
“Alisha, John Cowden ’95, and I played a couple of shows together before they graduated, and I remember Alisha suggesting that we abbreviate my stage name to Spouse,” José says.
“We all became fast friends and started playing all the time, on campus and down in Portland,” recalls Merenda. Pollard fondly adds that rehearsing with José and Mike “was the first time I felt like the music I was making was something worth investing in, to take out of our practice space and campus pubs and into the real world. ”The three played together in various bands under different names over the following year or so until the name Spouse stuck.
Since their formative days, Spouse has gone on to perform at a variety of venues, has released three full-length albums, and has earned national recognition with appearances such as their gig with The Hills. “We record in a very social-experiment type fashion,” notes Ayerve. “We have expanded to a rotating nine-piece for our recordings, and a solid trio, quartet, or quintet for our live shows.”
Each group member speaks fondly of their campus beginnings, especially their involvement with Bowdoin’s campus radio station, WBOR.“I think going to a small school made it easy for us to find and identify each other. All three of us were involved with WBOR and that helped shape our musical tastes. We were all way into new music. Indie rock. Bowdoin definitely helped shape our sensibilities by providing such a cool radio station,” Merenda says.
Pollard adds, “I was going crazy listening to the dozens of new lo-fi seven-inchers that were coming into the station every week. I found it really inspiring that all these bands were recording their ideas using $200 four-track recorders and then pressing them on seven-inch vinyl and releasing them on their own label. So, that’s what we did. We made some of our earliest recordings available on tape at the station and DJs played us. I felt like we were part of the movement. I think Bowdoin students did a great job putting together different ways for students to get involved in music – WBOR, Pop Kids, Bear Aids, the Pub. It’s really that student interest and initiative that enabled us to become the band we are today.”
Spouse hopes to build off of its current energy and, says Ayerve, “make music that appeals to thousands of people. Our fan base has started to grow exponentially thanks to our presence on radio and Internet stations. I think the one remaining goal for us, with relation to Bowdoin,” he concludes, “is to play in a different venue than Jack Magee’s Pub. I think it’s time.”
Posted February 01, 2006