For the last four months, Dani Buncher has been living on Scott Simons' couch in West Hollywood. They live with their dog, Maya, whom they love like a child. They also make up the indie-pop duo TeamMate and are fresh off of touring with the likes of OneRepublic and Skylar Grey.
They also broke up years ago, after dating for a decade, when Buncher revealed to Simons that she was gay.
It came as a surprise to the two musicians (Simons played with pop-rock group The Argument, Buncher played drums in a band called Big Hurry) that music could bring them together again - especially when music is what distanced them to begin with.
Buncher met Simons when she was 17 and about to start college at his alma mater, West Virginia University. After graduating, Buncher moved to New York City to work for Arista Records. Meanwhile, Simons split his time between Morganstown, WV, and touring with The Argument. The couple lived apart for five years, seeing each other every six to eight weeks. Issues began to surface, but it was easier to ignore them in order to appreciate the time they did have together. Then, after nearly nine years of dating, the couple got a place together in Pittsburgh.
But things still weren't clicking. It was at this time that Buncher's sexuality began to surface and she had to admit to Simons, and herself, what she had been repressing. "I was never scared of what it meant to be gay," says Buncher. "I was more afraid of how I would live without Scott."
After 10 years, though, Buncher and Simons couldn't call it quits. At least not completely. Simons moved to Los Angeles to work on a solo project after The Argument split, and Buncher backed him on drums when he came to play in New York, where she moved after the breakup. They found a "weird awesome chemistry" through music they had not yet explored. So, they decided to explore it with TeamMate.
While they wouldn't wish that kind of break-up on anybody, the couple sees it as a gift. TeamMate has become a way for Buncher and Simons to keep their bond, but with a new-found freedom that has allowed them to be closer than before. "There's no question of what our relationship is now," says Simons. "We are a fully formed duo. We are in love with this band."
The bi-coastal band wrote and recorded their first EP, The Sequel, over conference calls and instant messenger. With the opening lyric of the title track, "She said 'I think I like girls'/I said, 'I do too,'" the album is a strikingly honest narrative of the break-up. But these aren't your typical break-up songs, with heart wrenching lyrics about lost love and what could have been; TeamMate's music doesn't have a drop of sadness in it. With dance-able drum beats, happy hand-clapping, jingling tambourines and shimmering synthesizers, TeamMates uplifting indie-pop falls somewhere in between Madonna (check their cover of "Causing a Commotion") and The Colourist.
After a year of touring together, TeamMate is ready for the next chapter. After relocating here from New York, Buncher is finally off the couch and into her own place, and the duo has shifted away from writing specifically about their breakup to working on songs with more universal narratives.
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"The first EP was about looking back," says Simons. "Now it's looking forward."
Catch TeamMate on March 26 at the Bootleg Theater.
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