For those late to the show, it was announced yesterday via their official message board that Cove Reber and Saosin have parted ways after five years, two full-lengths and two-EPs. Though a shock for most, rumors have reportedly been building since as early as Christmas ’09, though yesterday’s announcement was the first official comment.
Now the band must go through a familiar process: the search for the perfect frontman. Reber famously replaced original S vocalist Anthony Green after the Translating the Name EP. A worldwide talent search turned up Cove, a star and key part of the band’s commercial success. Now without a label and dwindling fan support, Saosin must break out of the methodical pace they usually move at and name a new vocalist while people still care. I’d like to officially nominate ex-Envy On The Coast vocalist Ryan Hunter for the job.
Before we get into Hunter’s qualifications, let’s analyze Cove for a moment. Anthony-diehards and music cynics alike constantly bashed the singer’s live performances, claiming him to be incredibly hit or miss. In the three times I’ve seen him live, I witnessed a fantastic show, a mediocre offering and an off night, so I tend to agree with his consistency issues. However, let’s not pretend like most singers in his field are not of the caliber their albums suggest. Plenty of singers (Craig Owens comes to mind) sound stronger on recordings than live. That issue aside, I don’t have much to defend the lyrics. They’re basic. Generic. Simple. Reber was no poet, that’s for sure.
Saosin 3.0 would be wise to find someone with a tad more street cred this time around. There’s quite a bit of making up to do for In Search Of Solid Ground, and finding a witty lyricist would do them well. Someone with band experience would be a must, as the band can still fill up some good-sized venues. Definitely need a guy who can hit the notes live, meaning any new material, anything from the Cove-era, or anything off Translating The Name needs to be performed to perfection.
That’s where Mr. Hunter comes in.
Over his two full-lengths and EP with Envy On The Coast, Ryan blossomed into an intriguing leading man. The growth from Envy On The Coast EP to Lucy Gray was tremendous, finding a sound that fit both the vocalist’s preferences and the scene’s requirements. His unique melodies and metaphorical lyrics were the life force of the first full-length, where his vocals were mixed high over the instruments. The 2010 release Lowcountry allowed experimentation with a southern vibe, lead by deeper, more powerful vocals than we’d ever heard from Hunter. Recent performances such as Bamboozle showed that the live show was perhaps an even higher quality than the recordings.
Call me insensitive, but the 10 days since Envy announced their looming break-up are enough for me; time for Ryan to get back on the horse. Hunter’s old group has toured with Saosin in the past, so the relationship is there. Certainly Beau Burchell & Co. know what Ryan is capable of. Let’s not forget that the physical resemblance (okay, it’s just the dreadlocks) between Reber and Hunter is great enough that undevoted fans may not even know the difference by appearance alone.
So Hunter would certainly solve some of the Saosin-skeptics’ worst gripes on Cove, though there is tons more to work out. Would Ryan even want the job? Both of his last two albums were more warmly received that In Search Of Solid Ground, and Hunter is not one to follow basic song structure and commercial models for making music. He could certainly spearhead another project and find members to form a new group fairly easily. If musicians and labels will flock to him, there’s no real need to join the sinking ship. Rumors have floated the Beau is looking to take control of the group, and I don’t see Hunter letting someone else yank on his strings. If he’s going to hold the reigns, Ryan will be the star, not an over-zealous guitar player.
We can dream, but my money isn’t on this match. We’ll know for sure during his one-hour special on MTV entitled “The Decision” (joking). Even without Hunter’s services, Saosin 3.0 can only go up from its second incarnation. Until then, take the following video from the past as you will.