Real Talk: Pop, Pirates & Pat Benatar with TeamMate

Jun 15, 2017

"Had we not chosen to be in Morgantown, TeamMate wouldn’t exist."

From West Virginia Public Broadcasting and A Change of Tune, this is 30 Days of #WVmusic, the interview series celebrating the folks who make the West Virginia music scene wild and wonderful.  

And today's interview is with a Los Angeles pop duo with early-beginnings in Morgantown who believe in the power of collaboration. This… is TeamMate. 

TeamMate just released their self-titled full-length debut on Rostrum Records. Catch up with the band on social media as they tour from coast-to-coast. Hear more #WVmusic on A Change of Tune, airing Saturday nights at 10 on West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Connect with A Change of Tune on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. And for more #WVmusic chats, make sure to go to wvpublic.org/wvmusic and subscribe to our RSS / podcast feeds.

TeamMate's Dani Buncher (with Scott Simons in the background)
Credit Charlie Buhler

Interview Highlights

On forming TeamMate:

Dani Buncher (vocals/drums): Scott and I started TeamMate a little bit after we broke up, while we were trying to figure out what our relationship and friendship was going to be like post-breakup. It felt kind of natural to start playing music together. Scott asked me to sit-in on drums for a couple of solo gigs and it felt great! It kind of took on a whole new meaning of what it meant to be together and stay friends and be a part of each other’s live. It kind of transitioned to a full band project for us.

Scott Simons (vocals/keyboards): We met at WVU and dated for ten years before we started the band, but we had never played music together except for maybe a few drum sessions. We were both in the marching band at WVU, and music was always a big part of our life’s when we were a couple, but we never played it together until after we broke up. It sort of became our therapy.

On the Morgantown music scene:

Scott: I grew up in Bridgeport, about 45 minutes away from Morgantown. I was more active in the Morgantown scene [than Dani]. At the time, it was such a great place to be in a band because it was such a diverse scene, but also we could drive anywhere and be in another college town in not a lot of time. There was a punk underground scene, a hip hop scene and a jam band scene, and my old band [The Argument] didn’t fit into any of that. Morgantown was a great place to play music, and I stayed around after the band broke up and did side gigs before I moved. There was a lot going on considering the size of the town. It taught me just about everything I ever needed to do. When I moved to L.A., I played in piano bars the songs I figured out in Morgantown. All the experiences we’re doing now, I got to cut my teeth in Morgantown.

Dani: I didn’t play music while I was in college very much. I saw a lot of bands, but it was mainly Scott’s old band [The Argument]. After college, I moved to Pittsburgh and began playing more.

On the #WVmusic scene’s lack of a pop presence:

Scott: I think that’s reflective of the culture. The poppiest acts haven’t come out of West Virginia, and obviously L.A. is a very pop town. To do it at the scale, we want to do it and to fit our sound we really have to be here. The way the music industry is now, you have to be different and own what comes naturally, and a lot of people in West Virginia are owning what they grew up with, what they grew around and reflecting the culture. You can make things work there, but we’re a little too poppy to be anywhere but L.A. at the moment.

TeamMate's self-titled debut is out now via Pittsburgh-based label Rostrum Records.

On their self-titled debut release:

Scott: When we started, I was in L.A., Dani in Pittsburgh, and we did an EP that was sort of long distance, sending files back and forth so the writing wasn’t as collaborative. On this new album, once we went into it, we decided to write everything together and sing everything together in unison. We named the band TeamMate because if we couldn’t be partners romantically, we’d be teammates. Keeping up with that name, it felt like the output needed to be more collaborative. We sing mostly 50/50, write 50/50.

Dani: We don’t have one song that we think is the best, but we have songs that are more special to us individually, songs we enjoy playing more on certain nights or if the writing process meant something. I really like “Souvenir,” and “Until You Find Me” was one that helped shape the direction of the record.

Music featured in this #WVmusic chat:

TeamMate- “Until You Find Me”

TeamMate- “We Belong” (Pat Benetar cover)

TeamMate- “Damage”

Support for 30 Days of #WVmusic is provided by Kin Ship Goods, proud supporter of DIY music and the arts. Locally shipped worldwide at kinshipgoods.com.