Joe Kerwin has been playing music with his brother Jack since elementary school and would be in college before starting the band The Water Cycle. "I dreamed and passively hoped that I would somehow end up in a band," Joe says. "I realized that I wasn't good enough at guitar or bass to expect people to recruit me to play in their projects and that if I wanted to play shows, I would have to write my own songs and start my own band."

It was bumpy in the beginning. Joe thinks their first few shows were probably tough to watch and even harder to hear. "I was so uncomfortable singing," he says. "I just remember mumbling into the microphone and wishing I could hide." But it wouldn't be long before The Water Cycle settled into their 60s influenced jangle-pop sound, released a couple of EPs, and took their show on the road with several dates in the Northeast. I caught up with Joe to learn more about getting started, and where they're finding inspiration for their music. Excerpts below.

Bands You Should Know — The Water Cycle
Courtesy of Joe Kerwin

Joe stumbled upon New England’s underground music scene in 2013.
I discovered a punk band from Portland called Street Sity Surf. I fell in love with their EP Running Away to Join the Massachusetts Army, and when they went on tour, I saw them play in a welding shop in Worcester, and then again in Boston. It was my first basement show ever, and it was at a house called The Womb (later the ER) in Allston. I was blown away that that kind of a music scene existed in Boston, and I dreamed of becoming a part of it.

Shortly after, he met bassist Rob Capodilupo.
He was a big folk-punk fan and we bonded because we were the only people either of us had met at Harvard who was interested in DIY/underground music. He had some songs, and I had some songs, so we decided to start a band with Jack on drums.

Just a couple of weeks ago, we said goodbye to Rob and he left Boston to go to grad school in the UK. Olivia Mastrosimone joined the team on bass. She's pretty new to bass but she's killing it. We're super impressed and we're amped to be playing with her.

Bands You Should Know — The Water Cycle
Left to right: Joe, Jack, and Olivia
Courtesy of Joe Kerwin

Their first show was at the Lilypad in Inman Square...
I'd been scared of singing all my life, and the idea of fronting a band seemed like diving into the deep end head first. We've come along way, I'm not scared to sing, and we're much more comfortable playing with each other than we were when we started out.

...and it was a performance at the ER in October 2017 where things really started turning around.
That was one of the most rewarding moments of my life. The ER was also the first Allston basement I ever went to a show at, so it meant a lot to me sentimentally.

Comparisons to Jonathan Richman came pouring in when The Water Cycle began recording...
I started listening to him and got hooked. He grew up a couple of towns over from where Jack and I grew up and he had a couple of Harvard guys in his band (The Modern Lovers), so I feel connected to him. He's grown into a big influence.

...but the inspiration for their sound comes from several places.
Yucky Duster's EP Duster's Lament is so special. It's really inspired me and made me want to take our music in a bit of a new direction. We just played in Boston with Boyscott and Winona Forever, and we're pretty hooked on them.

In terms of local influences, we adore Squitch, we're big fans of Edge Petal Burn, and we obviously admire the heck out of Sidney Gish.

Writing songs is very personal for Joe.
We mostly send each other demos and take time individually to figure out parts and edit, so it's not as collaborative as it might be for other bands. I get nervous easily and I'm always scared to share my ideas with people, so I need more time to work things out.

Pre-performance rituals are...
...usually, just Jack texting me, "Joe where are you. You need to respond. We're supposed to load-in in 10 minutes."

Career options outside of music?
We're all in college, so we'd probably just be doing a better job at that. Jack and Olivia are at Northeastern, and I'm at Harvard.

Where can Boston see you perform next?
We're playing a basement show at Tufts on November 8. They're keeping the address secret, but if anybody wants to go they should reach out to us and we can send it to them.

We also have some out of town shows scheduled that we're really excited for:
November 15 at the University of Connecticut
November 16 in Brooklyn
November 17 at Bard College in upstate New York
November 22 at Middlebury College in Vermont
November 23 at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams

The Boston Music Awards recently selected The Water Cycle to be a part of the 617Sessions, a program that recognizes Boston-based artists who are making great contributions to the local scene and rewards them with a day of studio recording.