Copeland - 9.15.06

Interviewed by
Copeland - 9.15.06I had the privilege recently of sitting down with Aaron Marsh and Bryan Laurenson of Copeland during their stop in Cincinnati on their most recent tour. We got to discuss a lot of issues such as their new record, perceptions of their live show, and other hot-button topics. This is what they had to say.

First of all, I just wanted to say thanks a lot for agreeing to do this interview with me. Copeland is the reason that I have this passion for music, and is the main driver behind my wanting to write about music in the first place. This is really an honor for me, so thanks.

So you guys seem to have a generally distinctive sound that has come to be pretty widely copied. Aaron seems to have single-handedly made the falsetto “cool” again, and your brand of softer, more melodic rock appears to be something others are always chasing to emulate. Is this something that annoys you or do you find it flattering?

Aaron: I don’t think that is the type of thing that we really pick up on – you don’t think, “Oh, that band is trying to sound like me.” That is just not the kind of thing we do. Primarily we are just listening to music to enjoy music. We are always thinking about where we are headed next, but we are too wrapped up in doing what we enjoy to worry about things like that.
Bryan: The idea that we might influence bands that are younger than us is not something I like to think about. It is definitely flattering and such, but still.
Aaron: For sure, whenever someone tells us they are influenced by us, it is really flattering, but it is not something that crosses my mind too often.

How is the current tour going with Jack’s Mannequin and the Hush Sound going?

Aaron: It is going great. I have been pleasantly surprised by how many people coming out have heard of our band. And really, I don’t think we could ask for a better tour to be on right now. We are playing for a lot of new people that for whatever reason we haven’t
reached before, and that is really cool.

Yeah, I just went out front of the venue, and there was just a huge line outside an hour and a half before doors open. In this neighborhood, that is a statement. So along these lines, would you guys rather play headlining shows where it might be a little smaller, but everyone is there to see you, or do you like playing as an opener where you might be able to reach potential new fans?

Aaron: In general, I prefer smaller shows for the intimacy of the crowd. Once you get over a certain threshold of heads, say 900 or 1000, it is a different dynamic to keep them entertained. The subtleties of the performance don’t come across. You have to be more exaggerated and deliberate and such. On the flip side, though, I do like supporting and the idea of trying to win over a new audience. That kind of spurs me on and makes me want to do better. It is actually a little less nerve-wracking than playing to a room full of people that may have had expectations for a month leading up to the show.

Do you think with your style of music, it is harder to keep the larger audiences entertained?

Aaron: Yeah, well we are not jumping around on stage with the super-energetic type of show.

Not too many guitar swings then?

Aaron: (laughs) And we’re too old to do kick-flips now.
Bryan: I think it takes a kid who is in it for the music to not necessarily be entertained, but to appreciate our show.
Aaron: I think it is the difference between people who are looking to come to a show, and those who want to hear songs. I think people who are looking to hear songs, and are really in it for the music would appreciate a Copeland show, whereas people who are in it for the excitement and the spectacle aren’t going to have much fun.

That kind of leads me into my next question. It seems like any time there is news posted about you guys going out on tour, there are always people that want to criticize your live show. Does it bother you guys to the point where you stick to touring with certain types of bands because of it?

Aaron: We try. The bands we tour with is really a very political process. We don’t always hit the mark in getting to the right audience. But we have to not think about that and not let the expectations and the negative comments get us down.
Bryan: Even though we can’t stop reading them.

Okay, so someone told me a little while back that you guys had a deal going with Columbia Records. Is that true, and if so, where does it stand?

Bryan: Not true as far as we know. The album comes out on the Militia Group, and so far that is all we know.

With regards to the label situation, it seems like The Militia Group has become kind of schizophrenic in the way that it signs bands. On one hand, there are the indie darlings like the Appleseed Cast or Fielding, while on the other hand, there are acts just waiting to hit it big like Cartel. Is there one of those groups you identify with more?

Aaron: I don’t know, maybe we are the joining band that glues to two groups together. I mean we have definitely sold more records than a group like the Appleseed Cast or Lovedrug or Denison or other great musical indie bands. But I definitely don’t think we would fit in on a Cartel tour or whatever.
Bryan: I think that all along, we have not had he same gameplan as Cartel. We have definitely been taking more of an indie rock route in our decisions, and getting big fast was never a goal of ours, so maybe we are a bridge between the two.

How do you guys feel about the current label roster over there? Are there any personal favorites of yours or any dislikes?

Aaron: I think that Lovedrug is one of the best bands in music out there today, period. I just think they are incredible.
Bryan: Lovedrug is one of my top 5 live bands, probably.

Any other favorites you have or any you don’t get along with?

Aaron: Denison is a great talent, and we are taking The Appleseed Cast out with us in just a little bit.
Bryan: There is definitely not anyone on the label we do not get along with.

No controversy? Come on guys, I have to sell this interview!

Aaron: Let’s pick on Noise Ratchet, they’re not a band anymore!
Bryan: No controversy, really (laughs).

So with all the bands breaking up over the past few years, is there anything you guys are doing to avoid the same pitfalls and stay together?

Aaron: I think we are all pretty much easygoing enough, and have the same goals, so not really.

So was the drummer change for a reason along those lines?

Aaron: We did not part on great terms, but we are on good terms now. It is just one of those things where we were not getting along together as well as we could on the road, and were making each other miserable.
Bryan: We are definitely more solid now as a band than we were back then.

Are you guys involved in any sort of side/solo projects right now? I am sure a lot of people would be interested in seeing an Aaron Marsh solo record.

Aaron: Bryan has about three dozen songs that one day we will put together.
Bryan: Yeah, I have been doing a bunch of stuff since before I joined Copeland 4 years ago. It is something I want to do when I have some time, which is really never. Then we kind of also have a cornucopia of side projects that we talk about almost on a daily basis.
Aaron: Yeah, we have probably 4 or 5 joke bands that we have started recording songs for, but we can’t really reveal the details of those just yet because we don’t necessary want people to know it is the members of Copeland in them (laughs). I have also been working with Stephen from Anberlin on his solo thing. Actually it has turned from a solo project to a big collective with all of our friends playing on it – it’s called Anchor and Braille. We finished half of the record when out tour schedules allowed, and we will wrap it up when our tour schedules allow.

So you’re not rushing to get a solo record out so you can kick the rest of the band to the curb?

Aaron: Well, you know…(laughs).

Well, one of the things you were involved in, Aaron, was the production of The Myriad’s record. What are your future plans for producing?

Aaron: Well, I produced Stephen’s record, and then I have been working with a band called Estates. It’s my roommate’s band, and Andy formerly of Cartel is in the band, and my good buddy Frank is in the band. They are really good, and their EP came out really good too. It’s an independent EP, and it will be coming out soon.

So does this mean it will ever get to the point where you will produce Copeland’s records on your own, or do you find it is good to have that outside ear?

Aaron: I don’t know. We have kicked that idea around, I guess. I co-produced the new record and In Motion with Matt Goldman.

Save some money, huh?

Aaron: Yeah definitely. We have thought about it, but not much more as of yet. We don’t know what the future holds in that regard.

I read somewhere online that the new album title, Eat, Sleep, Repeat, was a reference to a particular bout of depression that you went through, Aaron. What made you so depressed especially when people are starting to latch onto your music more? What made you want to open up to your listeners and fans about this time you went through?

Aaron: I would not call it necessarily a proper depression. I think of it as more of a transitional period in a way. Probably a lot of it had to do with assertions on beliefs and a lot of unrest about the universe in general – that’s pretty broad, I know. A lot of career pressures, too - actually, when you were talking about the comments about our live performance – that kind of took its toll on my sleeping patters. And the record is kind of inspired by a bunch of sleep problems I had from an amalgamation of pressures I was going through. It is very open and kind of honest, but not in the way that Beneath Medicine Tree was honest. It is a lot more enigmatic and I think a lot more people will be able to relate since it is not as specific. It is definitely as honest as Beneath Medicine Tree was, and the reason that I wanted to open up like that is I felt like the reason a lot of people like Beneath Medicine Tree was because of how honest and open it was. I think I was a little guarded with In Motion. I was still honest there and forthright, but I didn’t have the same heart on my sleeve attitude that I had on Beneath Medicine Tree, so I tried to bring a little bit of that back but still keep it really smart. I think that In Motion was a really smart record, but it didn’t have the heart that Beneath Medicine Tree had. I feel like Eat, Sleep, Repeat has both the head and the heart.

Obviously when you made Beneath Medicine Tree, you just made the record to put it out there, whereas with In Motion, you already had built up a sizeable fanbase. So obviously, a lot more people were going to be listening. Do you think that affected how you wrote your songs?

Aaron: Yeah, definitely. For sure. When Beneath Medicine Tree came out, no one knew who we were.
Bryan: And a lot of those songs were written years before that record even came out.
Aaron: “Priceless” and “Walking Downtown” were written when I was like 18 or 19 years old. Good lord. That is three or four years before Beneath Medicine Tree came out. When we recorded the first time, we were pulling the best from the past few years, while with In Motion, it was a much quicker process. We definitely felt that pressure with people wondering what we were going to do next. We had an “indie successful” record – it wasn’t really successful, but in our small little circle, it was successful.

To keep talking about the new record, when TMG first sent out an email newsletter, they said the new album was going to be called Elegance in Transience. Was that ever the title, or what?

Aaron: That was MY title, and no one else liked it, so I fucking changed it (laughs).

It is kind of funny that you say that because a lot of people bitched about the new title and say the liked your title better.

Aaron: I am to the point now where I like Eat, Sleep, Repeat a lot better than Elegance in Transience. It was actually Elegance for Transience was the title we were going to use. I think the problem with that one is that it is almost a little too appropriate.

A little too self-aware?

Aaron: Yeah, it’s like, well “we make pretty music.” So here is elegance. Yeah it is a little self-aware – that is a good way of putting it. And for me, Eat, Sleep, Repeat expresses the way I felt as the songs were being written and the months before. I prefer the title now, though.
Bryan: There was a communication breakdown. We had decided not to use that title, but somewhere along the line, that was lost. It might have actually been the day after we decided on Eat, Sleep, Repeat that the wrong title ended up going out. And it got even worse when people started saying they liked the other title better (laughs).

We kind of touched on this before, but when talking about your older records, you said that Beneath Medicine Tree was made to move you, while In Motion was made to make you move. Where does the new record fit into that continuum?

Aaron: Uh, it’s more to people make move (laughs). Switch the words around there. I don’t know if we had a specific goal – we just wanted to make a good record this time. I don’t know if I can put a little catch phrase with it.

I’ll try to make it a little easier here. How does it sound? Is it stripped-down like Beneath Medicine Tree or is it more polished like In Motion?

Aaron: Sonically, it sounds more like Beneath Medicine Tree. It is not super slick – it is more organic and real. I think it has really smart arrangements (laughs) – look I’m saying the arrangements are smart. I thought In Motion was a really heady record, and I think we took even more time picking the arrangements here. With Beneath Medicine Tree, we just recorded everything we could think of, but with In Motion, we took the opposite approach. We would look at the parts, and if something was not necessary or enjoyable, we would leave it out and save room for something more interesting. So we took that approach to the extreme with this record, being very careful with the parts we chose. For example, we made sure that this guitar tone wasn’t stepping on another one, and this string wasn’t interfering with this vocal. Very meticulous layering to make sure you get the most for your buck, so you hear the most you can without it getting muddy.

So everyone will be calling it “rich” when it comes out?

Aaron: It is definitely a lush record.
Bryan: Definitely the most instrumentation we have had.
Aaron: There is a lot of stuff going on. There is one track that has a full orchestra – horns, winds, strings.

Is that something you worry about being able to recreate live or at least emulate live?

Aaron: (Laughs) We tried not to think about that.
Bryan: We have some ideas. I think the songs we will play live we will be able to pull off.
Aaron: We have always been one of those bands where the record sounds like this, and the live show sounds like this. I have always been a fan of going to see shows where I hear something different than on the record. If the songs are good, it shouldn’t really matter anyways.

Were there any bands you were listening to during the planning of this album that influenced you lyrically or musically at all? Any themes?

Aaron: It is embarrassing that an artist this recent could have an influence, but the Gnarls Barkley record – I thought that record was great and I listened to it a ton before we went in and recorded. We ripped off a drum trick from them – well, not a straight ripoff.
Bryan: I think the Cardigans’ last record was a musical influence on us this time, and tone wise.
Aaron: Actually it is not out in the states yet – Super Extra Gravity is the name of the record. And it is really cool - we love them.

One of the things I wanted to ask was if the album art had anything to do with the subject matter. From what we saw, it seems kind of abstract.

Aaron: Actually, it is the most tailor-made, most relevant artwork that we have ever had. We had a painter listening to the songs while he painted, and the artwork was made specifically for this record. Jamie Adams is the name of the painter.

So did James not do anything for the artwork on this release?

Aaron: Well, he did the layout. But it is definitely the most appropriate artwork we have ever had.
Bryan: We were still finishing the lyrics when we got the last couple of paintings in, and it ended up that some of the lyrics ended up being influenced by the artwork. Once it comes out, it will probably make a lot more sense to people.
Aaron: I am definitely thrilled about the artwork. It is my favorite that we have ever had. It probably doesn’t look like most of the records of our peers – you don’t see many indie pop bands using paintings and such.

When In Motion was coming out, almost half of the record was up for preview beforehand. However, with Eat, Sleep, Repeat, we are a month and a half away from the release date and we have yet to hear a single track outside of the studio updates. So my questions are, when are we going to get our first Purevolume track or even better, something exclusive on Absolutepunk?

Aaron: (Laughs) well actually, I think the first of the tracks is supposed to go up next week, I think.
Bryan: If not, then definitely the first few weeks of October.
Aaron: I kind of like the fact that we have kept the cards close to our chests with this one. We have only been playing two songs live, and those two aren’t even a great representation of the record – we have been playing the two pop songs. It should be coming soon – we’re not trying to be rude.

So were people telling you they were sick of the posted tracks from In Motion by the time the record came out?

Aaron: No, not really. Actually this record was a bit of a rush job, because we really wanted to get it out before the end of the year.
Bryan: We handed in the final version less than a month ago, and the album releases in a month or so. So it has been kind of a rush trying to get everything together.
Aaron: We just saw the proofs of the artwork two days ago. That probably has more to do with it than anything else is the fact that our timeline has been different this time. Everything has been kind of crammed in.

So what is the first single going to be?

Aaron: Actually we are not sure. There is a song called “Control Freak” that we are assuming will be the single – that is one of the songs we have been playing out. But we don’t really pick that.
Bryan: We have say, though (laughs).
Aaron: I am assuming it will be “Control Freak.”

Would you guys ever do another covers EP or an EP in general or is it just LPs from here on out?

Bryan: I’m sure we will do another EP sometime. A covers EP, though? I wouldn’t say never, because then I might have to go back on my word.
Aaron: I think the biggest reason we would never do a covers EP again would be when we were recording for that, all we could think about was how we would rather be recording our own songs. Sitting there, hashing out other peoples’ songs, I don’t know. I mean, it came out fine, but we would much rather be working on our own stuff. It is such an involved process since we all take such a large hand in it – Bryan and I, that is our full time job. To justify doing that, it would have to be something we are really stoked about, and to me, another covers EP does not seem to fit that. There are tons of songs, though, that I hear and think to myself, “I would love to cover that!”

You guys are just going to turn into a cover band, aren’t you?

Aaron: (Laughs) You know when we are old and fat and no one cares about our music, we are just going to play in bars – you know - Phil Collins songs. We would be the worst, most pansy bar band ever! (laughs)

So a request here more than anything else - are you guys going to play “When Paula Sparks” tonight?

Aaron: Yup. It is weird – there has only been one show since that song has been written where that song has not been played.
Bryan: It is definitely the oldest song that we play without hesitation.
Aaron: That is kind of the one that has been to us, timeless.

Any other words for the fans out there?

Aaron: Oh, I read the thread on AP where you asked for questions! The one I laughed at was “Why did you guys put ‘Kite’ on In Motion? Any regrets?” (Laughs) I will answer that question – I stand behind that song. I still think that is one of the best melodies that I have ever written – the prechorus in particular, and I will stand behind that song until the day I die.

Were you surprised the reaction was so harsh?

Aaron: Kind of, yeah. I don’t know why I was so surprised, though. But I guess, I don’t know how much of a departure that is from, say, an Eisley song. And a lot of those kids listen to Eisley. I don’t feel like I need to defend it, but I will stand behind it.

But at the same time, did you think to yourself that you were never going to make a song like that again?

Aaron: Actually, there is a song on the new record that has the same attitude to it. It is a little cooler sounding – there’s not an accordion in it or anything.
Bryan: Nah, I don’t think so. I wasn’t shocked when there were people that didn’t like “Kite.” I think overall, though, the new record is a little like “Kite.”

Oh no! You guys are setting expectations really low now!

Aaron: In all honesty, I do stand behind that song, and I just have to snicker when people knock it.

So on the other hand, then, were there any songs that you were surprised people took to?

Aaron: You know what I’m surprised at? The song “You Have My Attention.” Up until about two weeks ago, it was the best-selling Copeland song on iTunes. I would have figured “Pin Your Wings,” “Walking Downtown,” “No One Really Wins,” or “California” would be. I am really proud of that song, and I love the way it turned out on the record, but that song surprised me.

Do you guys read sites like Absolutepunk?

Aaron: Yeah, we stop in there once in a while.
Bryan: Yeah, we are lurkers (laughs).

Okay, well that is it. I just wanted to say thanks again for sitting down with me. It was truly an honor to meet you guys.
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 51
10:03 AM on 09/25/06
On the turf since birth
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sputniksignals's Avatar
you have my attention is one of my all time favorite copeland songs. i just love that song so much. great interview though.
10:28 AM on 09/25/06
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matt_rawlings's Avatar
Fucking amazing interview, and now I feel bad that I was bashing "Kite" a few weeks ago.

You are easily the best interviewer on AP son. You ask what we want to know and don't kiss ass
10:31 AM on 09/25/06
Babe Lincoln
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TheDaveCarlson's Avatar
Kids are crazy. 'Kite' is probably one of the best songs Copeland have written to date. I dont need to justify why..
10:33 AM on 09/25/06
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No Avatar Selected
i like kite... huh. nice interview though. i enjoy their live show, it's nice to see people who don't try so hard and just focus on the music. the only time people throwing themselves around the stage is entertaining is when they crash into something.
10:34 AM on 09/25/06
Bravo Bravado
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awretchlikeme's Avatar
They toured with Cartel Last February, and I have to say Copeland was the best band on that tour besides Gatsby. I can't wait for this cd.
10:36 AM on 09/25/06
back in the van
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No Avatar Selected
I know why "You Have My Attention" is so big. They played it on The Real World, I forgot where it was, but that one blonde chick with the big cans, when she was with the dude who got in a fight and broke his jaw or whatever. They were getting all cozy, and that song came on. I threw up in my mouth a little bit, but I had to admit it was a great song choice for the moment.

But yeah, that song is my favorite song on the record.
10:44 AM on 09/25/06
Steve Henderson
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Steve Henderson's Avatar
Fucking amazing interview, and now I feel bad that I was bashing "Kite" a few weeks ago.

You are easily the best interviewer on AP son. You ask what we want to know and don't kiss ass
Thanks, Rawlings. I guess it is kind of unfair because so far I have really interviewed bands I have a big interest in talking to. Copeland is probably one of my Top 3 bands of all time, so I could have sat there and talked for hours with these guys.
10:47 AM on 09/25/06
Oh yessss
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No Avatar Selected
You can pre-order Eat, Sleep, Repeat here
10:56 AM on 09/25/06
under lock and key
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FASSWcore's Avatar
amazing. i want this cd sooooooooo bad.
11:04 AM on 09/25/06
a creative username?
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Brett9's Avatar
Awesome interview dude...what an awesome read. I'm so excited for this CD, and even more so now. Oh and by the way, "Kite" is one of the most incredible songs - from a melodic point of view - I have ever heard. One of my favorite songs by them.
11:07 AM on 09/25/06
Steve Henderson
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Steve Henderson's Avatar
Awesome interview dude...what an awesome read. I'm so excited for this CD, and even more so now. Oh and by the way, "Kite" is one of the most incredible songs - from a melodic point of view - I have ever heard. One of my favorite songs by them.
Thanks, man - appreciate the nice words.
11:07 AM on 09/25/06
Registered User
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Beyondclarity's Avatar
Great band - great interview...

Kite? People don't like Kite - thats blasphemous! That song is incredible.
11:09 AM on 09/25/06
Registered User
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No Avatar Selected
I love kite, i used to put it on repeat while reading Fitzgerald novels.
11:33 AM on 09/25/06
visit - www.myspace.com/markadfour
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mdarket's Avatar
Yeah I've always been a big fan of "Kite."

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