Featuring vocalist Olivia Maria and Mike Nevin on bass, guitar and drums, the duo offer a completely raw, unabashedly honest look at relationships that have gone awry with a huge sound, urgent guitar riffs and bouncy hooks and melodies.
“‘INCONVENIENT’ is about what happens when someone chooses to fall in love with the version of you they’ve created in their mind instead of the person you’re showing them that you are,” Maria says of the song. “It’s about being treated like the feelings and values that make you a three-dimensional human being are inconvenient obstacles in the way of having an idealized relationship.”
Fans of nostalgia-inspired modern pop-rock with splashes of neon pop punk can hear more of COWBOY BOY on their debut EP, PRINCESS, ahead of GOOD GIRL, slated for June 11 via Get Better Records. Preorders are available here.
Check out COWBOY BOY’s “INCONVENIENT” and its nature-themed lyric video below. Plus, read an exclusive interview with Maria and Nevin about their latest release and their upcoming album.
What personal experiences, if any, helped inspire your lyrics? What did your creative process look like, and how did you two bring your vision to life?
OLIVIA MARIA: I would consider COWBOY BOY to be an almost embarrassingly honest and personal project, so lyrically, it’s all drawn directly from my own life experience. There are a lot of feelings being processed in real time and a lot of reflection on the nature of my relationships with others and myself.
I always say we’re like the Postal Service, but we email demos back and forth and write music on FaceTime instead of snail-mailing things to each other. I’m really lucky to collaborate with someone who is as talented as Mike is, and I think we’re both lucky to be so creatively in tune with each other that we were able to see this new material from inception to release while being on opposite sides of the country.
MIKE NEVIN: [Our] creative relationship is unlike any other musical partnership I’ve ever experienced. For GOOD GIRL, Olivia would write the lyrics, melodies and chords for a song and record a voice memo demo of it. She’d send it to me, I’d listen, come up with some ideas and then we’d FaceTime and talk at length about what we were both hearing in our heads, taking very specific notes to make the demo process as smooth as possible. At that point, the ball was in my court to translate [our] collective vision for the tracks. I’d demo something out and send it back to her in hopes of a text saying “OMG YESS” or something like that, and that was how we did those six tunes.
How have you grown musically between your debut EP from 2017 to this release?
MARIA: I feel like this question really answers itself when you listen to the two back to back. I think there’s a cohesive COWBOY BOY voice that has been present since the first EP, but the new songs feel like the grown-up version of the ideas we explored on PRINCESS. It feels like an elaboration or a continuation of the same musical story but in a more streamlined and sophisticated form.
NEVIN: When we were recording PRINCESS, Olivia and I both lived in Boston. Having the luxury of being in the same city also led to recording the record over a longer period of time, which lent itself to the varying sonics of the EP. For GOOD GIRL, being on opposite sides of the country worked in favor of homing in on a specific sound. When I flew to L.A. to record the EP, knowing that we were going to be recording everything in a short window of time helped to really solidify the energy of the record.
Who and/or what influences your bright pop sound? What themes do you most enjoy exploring in your songs?
MARIA: I think Mike and I both have a pretty hefty appreciation for pop music and all its little genre tributaries. I personally grew up almost exclusively on the really glossy, bright pop-punk stuff that was huge in the mid-2000s, specifically My Chem and Fall Out Boy, but I’m also really inspired by people like Mitski and Carly Rae Jepsen. The music I like the most is usually made by people who have really diverse influences, so I’d like to think that Mike and I sit in the middle of a pretty broad Venn diagram.
Thematically, it comes back to what I said earlier about exploring the nature of my relationships with other people and myself, processing those relationships and trying to distill my feelings into some sort of concise thesis statement that feels really personal and vulnerable but also hopefully relatable for other people.
NEVIN: The first band that I heard that made me go, “Wow, all I want to do is make something that sounds like this” was Cende. Absolutely mind-blowing power-pop band that broke up far too soon. Their debut self-titled EP is seven of my favorite minutes of music ever. Leading up to recording, I got super into Radioactivity, who I had never heard of until just before heading to L.A. to record. I was familiar with the Marked Men, but Radioactivity had the same grab as Cende for me, where I was just like, “Fuck, I want to make this.”
What can listeners expect from GOOD GIRL, and what do you hope they take away from it? What are you most looking forward to on this upcoming album?
MARIA: I think listeners should expect a continuation of the story that PRINCESS started, both musically and narratively. There’s some pretty vulnerable stuff, but I think a lot of it is pretty fun and bratty, too. My mission statement as a songwriter has always been to straddle the line between hyperpersonal and universally relatable because that’s what all of my favorite music does for me. So if you listen and feel seen, then I’ve done my job.
I’m really looking forward to having these songs out in the world and out of my hands after sitting on them for so long. I also can’t wait to get back to playing live when it’s 100% safe to do so. I can’t wait to see how these songs connect with people live.