I recently wrote a review for the States album Paradigm. I interviewed Bryan Laurenson who plays guitar in the band, and who co-produced it, but I didn't use all of the answers. The full interview is below.
1. You all really went home grown with this record, but your sound has never been so clean and polished. How did the decision to have Bryan and Stephen produce the record come about? Do you think you'll continue with this model or do you ever foresee another producer or label coming into the picture?
The decision to have myself and Stephen produce the album came about pretty naturally. It was a process that was really similar to the EP, and Stephen and I typically write and record at the same time. As we're writing, we're tracking those ideas. So, to us, writing and recording is kind of this simultaneous process. By the time it came time to make the record, we had all this material that Stephen and I had started and had implemented a lot of Mindy's ideas into, vocally and we were really just excited about the way it sounded and the direction it was heading. It just felt right to continue to just evolve the material we had and the recordings that we had going and we ended up tracking in different studios around town here in Nashville. It just felt right to keep that core recording and snowball that rather than discarding all of that work and starting over with a new producer. It felt like the right thing to do. In terms of moving forward, I think we'd all be open to working with a producer again. We really enjoyed our time with Aaron Sprinkle on Room to Run. I think sometimes having that outside ear and outside perspective is really invaluable. It'll really just depend on the spot we're at and what opportunities are available to us.
2. Who's the girl on the cover? What's the story behind that?
It's a photo taken by our friend Troy Stains. He lives in Atlanta and I've probably known him for a decade. He's a fantastic photographer. He's an amazing musician. In fact, he has some credit on a couple of the earlier Copeland records. I think he played some lap steel guitar. He's fantastic at pretty much everything he does. This photo is from a photoshoot he did in a field where he had the model, whose name is Carla, jumping on a trampoline, which was out of frame. He had all of these amazing images of this girl with this dress kind of just tumbling and falling and sometimes it looked like she was floating or levitating and just this really surreal photo shoot. This one particular image always stuck with me, and for years I've been wanting to use it for an album cover. In fact, I really wanted to use it for the States record before we began tracking. I'm not sure I even told any of the band members. From the get go, I had this in mind. I'm sure subconsciously it may have even influenced the record musically. From the get go, I knew this is what the album would look like. Troy was very gracious in letting us use it. I love it. It's one of my favorite aspects of the record.
3. In our AP chat back in July 2010 (yea, I went way back, haha) Stephen was asked: "What's the hardest part about the songwriting process?" to which he responded: "For songwriting I would say not over analyzing every detail. I definitely have a tendency to add layers to songs which isn't always a good thing. Sometimes simplicity is best."
In the same chat, Mindy said: "Being able to work in an actual studio is going to be incredible and enable us to add other elements, but still keep it simple. I can't stand when bands put so many layers on every song, and when you go see them live, it sounds nothing like the record. We want to be able to play any song, anytime."
I talk a lot about simplicity in this review. Is this something that was an essential focus when approaching Paradigm? Were there a lot of extra frills/layers that weren't included in the songs? How did that help improve the songs on this album?
For us now, it just really depends on the song. I think we take it song by song. I think the end result is having songs that can translate live. But at the same time, some of my favorite concerts have been ones where bands have taken their material and translated it differently live. So it's not like you're just standing there listening to the album, but you're listening to a different translation on that song. I think it really just depends. I think some songs are best told in a simple manner and other times, Stephen and I actually like adding layers. Some of my favorite albums are the ones where I can plug headphones into and on each listen I can find something new. Whether it's a nuance or a sound or something that may only happen once in the song, but the songs on every listen you find something new. I think it's just a balance, whatever suits the song best.
4. With your previous bands being sort of mellow, what is it like to have this kind of musical freedom now? Do you think you're making the music that you were always meant to make?
This is definitely the most free I've ever felt making a record. We didn't have any labels or producers or really anyone outside of us giving input or putting in their two cents. It was really just us doing whatever we wanted and I think we took each song from a different perspective and kind of let each song live on its own and let it go down whatever natural course it went down. Rather than being worried about all the songs fitting in the certain genre we just kind of let each one do its thing rather than trying to veer it off course back to familiar territory if it was going somewhere that felt uncharted for States. Our hope was that all of the songs would live cohesively together. I think in terms of the five of us, making music together as States, this was the album we were meant to make. We're all really proud of it.