When San Jose math-rock trio Covet released their third full-length album, Catharsis, on April 7, 2023, it represented so much more than just another record.
“If anything, this album is a love letter to all the different kinds of music that I have been listening to and inspired by,” explains Yvette Young, Covet’s driving force and guitarist. “When I started writing it, a lot of it felt very whimsical and fantastical, reminding me of a fantasy world. So, I wanted this album to have a theme of being a fantasy.”
While Covet has played the Catalyst Atrium before, their current tour closes with their first headlining show in the thousand-person main room, a coup for the trio.
In a modern twist, Catharsis is accompanied by a virtual art gallery where the band features album artwork, music videos and previews for upcoming releases. The gallery also has a link where fans can submit their own photos, videos and artwork.
“Just no nudes!” Young laughs.
For Young, writing music is a puzzle she’s constantly piecing together to find the completed picture.
“Every song is a problem waiting to be solved,” she explains. “I start with a riff that excites me, then I ask, ‘Where does this riff belong?’ and then build around it.”
The songs for the new record were written during the 2020 lockdown, which gave Young more time to work on them and view the new material with her original intent: as creative fun instead of work.
“I think it was a renaissance period for a lot of creatives,” she admits. “I had spent much time on the go, touring and working non-stop. I forgot what it was like to create for fun.”
“Firebird,” the album’s first single, was inspired by the first car her mom purchased after she moved to America—a Pontiac Firebird.
“It was her pride and joy because she saved up,” Young reminisces. “I wanted to write a song in celebration of moving to a new place and having the autonomy and freedom to do whatever you want.”
To further drive this point, the video features Young and ex-Covet drummer (who appears on Catharsis) Forrest Rice being driven around iconic San Jose locations in a–you guessed it—Pontiac Firebird. After stopping at Streetlight Records and City Diner, they cruise down Hwy 1 along the coast.
While the road for Young was always paved in music, it wasn’t always smooth. At four, she learned how to play the piano and picked up the violin by age seven. Yet the pressure to excel at music and academia weighed down on her, and at the end of her high school years, she was hospitalized for health complications. There, she picked up the guitar and taught herself the unique, two-handed tapping method she’s become known for.
“It saved my life,” she admits. “When I was in the hospital, [the guitar] gave me a voice again and control over something for myself.”
She started Covet in 2014 as a garage project “just for fun.” By 2016, the band’s popularity had grown, and Young decided to take a chance on herself, dedicating Covet as a full-time job. And it paid off.
Since then, she has been recognized as a guitar virtuoso, collaborating with peers such as Ichika Nito and sharing the stage with guitar gods like Steve Vai. Pop-turned-rock sensation Willow—as in Willow Smith—even asked for a custom guitar tab book, got a couple of lessons from Young and called her “one of the best guitarists of this generation.”
“It’s crazy; I’m very honored and would love to do a record with her,” Young says.
However, over the years, the fun turned to disharmony.
Last October, Young announced she had parted ways with original Covet bassist Dave Adamiak and Rice. The new line-up consists of Brandon Dove on bass and Jessica Burdeaux on drums, or as Young calls them, “angels in my life.”
“I was miserable before,” she says, comparing Covet’s last U.K. tour to a lobster slowly being boiled alive. “I was a prisoner in my own project. I couldn’t really pinpoint why until some really bad stuff happened. Now that I’m out of it, I can’t believe I normalized so much stuff that was not okay.”
The disastrous path eventually led to what became Catharsis. The album is also Young’s love letter to herself, a way to release past traumas, heal from them and start a new beginning with new members on her own terms.
“If you [are a musician], you can’t care what people think,” she says. “There are going to be people that hate you no matter what. You might as well do the things that make you feel the best, that make you feel healthy.”
Covet with Scarypoolparty and Alto Palo performs Saturday, May 13, at 8pm. The Catalyst, 1101 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. $25/$30 plus fees. catalystclub.com