Copeland - 01.14.09

Interviewed by
Copeland - 01.14.09How did the signing to Tooth and Nail come about?
We had actually talked to tooth and nail before we signed a deal with The Militia Group. Even though we wound up moving forward with Militia we still kept in touch with some of the folks at Tooth and Nail. So after the Columbia deal went south, we felt like they really knew our history, understood where we came from and what our goals were. I think they also appreciated the fact that they weren't signing a baby band, that we had a lot to bring to the table.

Are you still on good terms with Militia Group? Why didn’t you guys resign with them?
The guy who signed us, Chad Pearson is no longer with the label. He was our go-to guy the whole time. He has a new label called P is for Panda. Without him present, there really wouldn't be any reason for us to go back to Militia. We couldn't be happier about where we ended up though.

After what happened at Columbia, would you ever consider going back to a Major Label?
Not with Copeland. I'm not going to say that I will never work with another major label again with other projects, but I think everything about Copeland clashes with the major label formula. From the way we write, demo, and record, to the way we want to be marketed and everything in between, I think we clash.

I learned a lot from my experience with the label, but I also got a lot of insight from my friends in Anberlin. The things that they were put through to make their record for Universal would not fly with us. They had to write way more songs than they should have (which we don't do). The tunes they turned in were ridiculously over-analyzed by people who weren't looking for good music, just dollar signs (which I couldn't handle). The label spent tons of money on producers, writers, poets, troubadours, acrobats, etc to try to mold the songs into what they thought would be hits. At the end of the day the guys did fine with everything and even enjoyed some of that pressure, but I wouldn't have put up with it. They went into the process with more than enough proof that they could make records that their fans love. For all the money and trouble that was spent trying to make them better, it just came out different, not better.

You Are My Sunshine doesn't sound like your typical Aaron Sprinkle-produced rock album. What was the process like recording and working with him?
Sprinkle really seemed like a kid in a candy store with us. He seemed really excited to be doing something different. No one wants to feel like they're doing the same thing over and over, especially artists. He was always enthusiastic to run with any idea that we threw out there. He never got lazy with or settled on something when everyone wasn't excited about what was going on. I think in the same way he felt liberated by the change, we felt energized by getting out of our norm. We'd done all of our records with Matt Goldman. We love Matt and think the world of him as a producer, but we were really inspired by the change. I think we learned a lot from Sprinkle and he from us.

Does your inspiration you pull from change from year to year through your writing process, or do you always try to maintain a universal theme to pull from?
This answer is going to sound super dumb... but I get this question a lot, and I never know how to answer it because inspiration is too abstract to pinpoint. I rarely have a specific inspiration for a lyric or a song or a chord progression. It's always a stream of different life experiences, observations, and the stories of those around me. All of those streams flow together and that's what I draw from. It's always the same stream that I'm pulling from, but the stream is ever-changing.

I told you it was going to be dumb. It's just very difficult to answer questions about the inspiration for a song because I could've been pulling from five different parts of my life to put together an idea in a song.

You can buy my new album "Streams of Inspiration" next month. It has a unicorn on the cover.

And what does “You Are My Sunshine” mean to you?
It's a record that I made one time. It's also the name of a spooky children's song.

How did you get in touch with Rae Cassidy to sing on your new album? What was it that made you want her on the record?
I found Rae on myspace 4 years ago. I logged into our account to accept the friend requests (this was before they had the magical auto-accept feature). That particular day there weren't too many and I wasn't in a hurry so I was scrolling through and noticed that one of them was a music page. I clicked on her profile and was really caught off guard by what I heard. It was really lo-fi, bedroom recordings with this awesome nostalgic jazzy voice. There were layers upon layers of trills and dives. It was really smart and I was even more floored when I learned that she was only 14. Over the years, I kept up with her. The thing about her music that made me consider her for "You Are My Sunshine" was the way she contrasted classic and modern; the classic tone of her voice with the experimental layers. It matched what we were going for with the sound of the record.

What are some of your plans for 2009?
I'm producing a few records at my home studio. After that, we'll do some more touring on You Are My Sunshine. I doubt we'll start recording another Copeland record this year.

Any plans to play outside the US this year?
Yes. I'm fairly confident that we'll do a trip to Japan and Australia. We've talked about those. I would like to go back to Singapore as well because we love playing there. I know we're anxious to go to Europe, but that's difficult without a European label that's willing to help out.

Will you guys be releasing any of your previous records on vinyl soon?
You Are My Sunshine is coming out on vinyl this month, but that's it for now.

How has each one of your records differ from each other? Can you contrast the change in style with each cd's success?
"Beneath Medicine Tree" is naive, young, and wounded but hopeful in its lyrical content. The music is very lush and decadent but lacks any amount of subtlety . It consisted of songs that had been written during a span of 5 years leading up to actually recording. There's no doubt that it really struck people and we really have that record to thank for the fact that we've been able to play music for all these years.

"In Motion" was a little more veiled lyrically. I put less heart into the lyrics because I felt like maybe I'd put too much of myself out there on BMT. Musically it was a bit safe. I regret that we made this record for other people and not for ourselves. We were constantly analyzing each song to figure out which fans it would appeal to and if it could be on the radio or if a big label would like it. I wish we'd taken a different attitude. The record was written VERY quickly. If I remember correctly, the songs were all written in 2 months. We only rehearsed and arranged the songs for 3 days before we started tracking. Funny how that's our biggest selling record to date.

"Eat, Sleep, Repeat" is even more veiled lyrically, but not with the intent of keeping myself from anyone. It was the idea that lyrics that take a little more digging into might have a more deeply moving effect than more blatant lyrics. The music has a darker more hopeless tone to it. We didn't focus on song-writing quite as much as production. We were tired of straight forward songs and wanted to push ourselves to do something different. The record probably suffered a bit commercially from the sonic change, but our band morale went up because we're really proud of that record.

"You Are My Sunshine" is still fairly dark but has a lovely quality interlaced. We spent a TON of time on the song-writing this time. I think it has the moody-ness of ESR with more meat and potatoes in terms of song-writing. It's still pretty new so it's hard to say how the sales will stack up against the other releases, but so far so good.

Did Imogen Heap influence you when making You Are My Sunshine?

Well. I like Imogen Heap. I wasn't really thinking of her music when we made that song. I'm assuming you're talking about the vocal effect. I got the idea when I was mixing the Anchor and Braille record. I exaggerated a Harmonizer effect that I was trying on Stephen's voice and it sounded nice. I figured that if I used it a bit more liberally it would make this tonal bed that vocals could sit on.

Speaking of Imogen Heap, have you seen any of her podcasts? They're pretty addictive. She needs her own TV show.

Does the band still stay in contact with James Likeness? Did he help design any of the layout for YAMS?
Bryan talks to him most frequently. No he didn't work on You Are My Sunshine. Ryan Clark of Invisible Creature did the artwork.

What do you feel has been the band’s biggest accomplishment so far?
At this point I feel most proud of our longevity and sticking to our goals. I never really expected to be rich or famous. I've always just wanted our band to make respectable music that means something to people, and to make music for as long as people want to listen. It's' really cool to hear that our music has been a meaningful part of people's lives for almost a decade. So far I haven't heard anyone call us washed up and old... but it can't be too far down the road.

What is the song "chin up" about?? And why did you guys re-record it for the new album?
"Chin up" was inspired by a friend who would go to great lengths to put up a front of being happy with the way her life had turned out. In my head, it's the saddest song I've ever written.

As for re-recording, we do demos of every song, so really every song is a re-recording. It just happens that you heard the demo of chin-up.

A lot of bands say things like "We do this because of you (the fans)" How do you deal with pleasing fans while maintaining and producing sincere art?
Nah. We're selfish. We're in it for ourselves. In Motion was the only record that we made for other people. As for pleasing the fans, we're just lucky that they like what we come up with.

What does the tattoo of the boy and the tree on your arm mean??
It's The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

How did you first hear about Lights and why did you bring her out on tour?
I found Lights on Myspace a few years ago and thought she was great. Then she got the Old Navy thing which was huge. We took her on tour because we like her music and think she's really going somewhere and wanted to be a part of it.

Who's idea was it to hijack the CFOB campaign? And why did you guys decide to do it?
It was my idea. For months my friend, Matt Wilbur and I had been putting our campaign together with the elaborate maze and these dummy sites that would be gateway into the maze. We spent tons of time on the artwork for it, drawing everything by hand, meticulously mapping it out. It was finally coming together. We'd been keeping our record a secret for months, even from friends and family so that we could have some mystery surrounding the release and use the maze to offer clues and information.

About 6 hours before we were going to go live with it... the Citizens hacked the Decaydance site, kicking off Fall Out Boy's viral campaign. Their campaign was awesome and I didn't understand why people weren't willing to have fun with it. It wasn't getting a good reaction and it was clear that 2 campaigns of this nature were not going to be able to coexist.

At that point, there were 3 choices...
1. Stop the train
2. Have both trains running on separate tracks
3. Slam them into each other.

We chose 3. We threw together one more dummy site to look like the CFOB page and the rest is message board history.

There are internet reports that the Jonas Bros. grew up as huge fans of Copeland. Is there any one person or group that you discovered were fans of your music that completely shocked you?
I think all of the hottest supermodels love us.

The Jonas Brothers are interesting because they're famous, but they're kind of in the demographic.

I was pretty shocked when we were offered a tour with Bob Mould. He's well respected and not exactly in the demographic. Also, Andy Summers, who doesn't really know anything about our band said that our Police cover was one of his all time faves. I was pretty floored by both of those.

We're definitely not a band that has a bunch of A-list celebs filling up the guest-list at our LA shows.

Whose next album would you kill to produce or sing on, and what would you bring to their sound?
The Cardigans... not because I could bring anything great to their sound, but because I would be guaranteed another Cardigans record for my own listening pleasure. Again, purely selfish motive.

Is there an album that you've heard in advance of its release that we should all be waiting for?
haha. I'm not on any advance promo list. Tate hears shit way before me. Ask him.

On a serious note, the new Coldplay, the new Radiohead, and the new Sunny Day Real Estate reunion record are off the chain. I got em bumpin' on my magical ipod for important people.

While on tour, do you guys try and eat healthy, or is it fairly difficult to eat a well balanced meal?
It's not hard to eat healthy on tour. It's just a bit expensive. You learn tricks after touring for a while. You learn where to look for good food. We've gotten to the point that we can predict what restaurants are in the area based on what else is in close proximity. If you're near a college campus, there's gotta be a Jimmy Johns and possibly a Chipotle.

Any tips on improving a vocal performance/singing in general?
I don't know if I'm the best to give tips, but when I'm at my best, I'm thinking more about my breathing than my singing. I'm anticipating when my next breath will be and making each one count.

What is your favorite area in the United States?
I like my hometown (Lakeland, FL) and I like Portland. There's lots of nice spots in the country, but those two are my faves.

Favorite books?
Not a big reader. I have a miserable attention span.
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 47
11:01 AM on 01/16/09
uncle larry
User Info.
tacosforcharles's Avatar
Great interview! Aaron is one of my favorite people in the industry.
11:02 AM on 01/16/09
"No more half measures Walt"
User Info.
batmannj's Avatar
i love this band. you are my sunshine was great.
11:02 AM on 01/16/09
Steve Henderson
User Info.
Steve Henderson's Avatar
I really enjoyed reading this - thanks, Jamie (and Aaron!)

I giggled at this:

"On a serious note, the new Coldplay, the new Radiohead, and the new Sunny Day Real Estate reunion record are off the chain. I got em bumpin' on my magical ipod for important people."
11:02 AM on 01/16/09
Knicks 2017 World Champions!
User Info.
Haha I love Aaron. Great interview
11:17 AM on 01/16/09
Legen...wait for it...Dary!!
User Info.
Marty_s's Avatar
Awesome interview. Aaron seems like one of the most down to earth guys out there. I think it would be awesome to meet him.
11:17 AM on 01/16/09
Yea, you were right about me
User Info.
trappedintime's Avatar
Amazing guy.
Glad to know Copeland has a lot of things going for them.
I hope YAMS gets a lot of sales. It's really good.
11:20 AM on 01/16/09
Justin Bettman
User Info.
onewheeledrider's Avatar
excellent interview
11:25 AM on 01/16/09
Matt Metzler
anberlinforever.com | The History of Anberlin
User Info.
Matt Metzler's Avatar
Well, that's some interesting information about Anberlin's latest album. They should have never left T&N and Aaron Sprinkle, definitely not after Cities, which was damn near perfect.
11:30 AM on 01/16/09
Finally here.
User Info.
-ben's Avatar
You can buy my new album "Streams of Inspiration" next month. It has a unicorn on the cover.

soo good. buying YAMS on vinyl along with Common Existence.
11:33 AM on 01/16/09
Here, have a sword.
User Info.
BigAl's Avatar
Damn, no question about Lights, haha.
11:45 AM on 01/16/09
Un'Aria Ancora
The best happiness money can buy.
User Info.
Un'Aria Ancora's Avatar
Damn, no question about Lights, haha.
What is that? Haven't heard anything about it...
11:45 AM on 01/16/09
Legen...wait for it...Dary!!
User Info.
Marty_s's Avatar
Damn, no question about Lights, haha.
How did you first hear about Lights and why did you bring her out on tour?
I found Lights on Myspace a few years ago and thought she was great. Then she got the Old Navy thing which was huge. We took her on tour because we like her music and think she's really going somewhere and wanted to be a part of it.
11:46 AM on 01/16/09
Here, have a sword.
User Info.
BigAl's Avatar
What is that? Haven't heard anything about it...
Hahahaha, it was a girl/band they toured with. I think she's hot.
11:48 AM on 01/16/09
We All Need A Reason To Believe
User Info.
meganonthetrain's Avatar
Nice interview.

Search News
Release Dates
Best New Music
Submit News
Mobile Version
AP.net Logos
Encore Podcast
Free Music
Sports Forum
Technology Forum
Contact Us
Copyright Policy
Terms of Service
Privacy Policy
Twitter | Facebook | RSS
Encore Podcast on iTunes
Encore on Overcast
AP.net on Tumblr
Chorus.fm | @jason_tate