Photos by Jovi Ho for DANamic.ORG
Emo music hit its heyday in the 2000s and at that time, Copeland enjoyed a modest amount of attention for their songs about love and relationships. Back then, everyone (well, all the cool people at least) was burning “Priceless” on mixtape CDs for that one special person.
Comprising Aaron Marsh (vocals), Jonathan Bucklew (drums), and brothers Bryan and Stephen Laurenson (lead and rhythm guitars respectively), the band had recorded 5 albums and 3 EPs before their break-up in 2010. Four years later, the band have decided to reunite and have another crack at it.
While their new album takes on a more mature outlook, the band has managed to tie it all back with the same earnestness that made their earlier work so emotive. With songs like “Have I Always Loved You” and “I Can Make You Feel Young Again”, Copeland take simple concepts and turn them into much more profound affairs.
Alternately, if you’ve never heard of the band, you can take a crash course before their show tomorrow and listen to our curated playlist here.
DNM: Hey guys, how does it feel to be back here?
Aaron: It feels good and familiar. I was a homebody for five years so it’s interesting being back out and travelling again.
Bryan: It’s fun and I feel that enough time has gone by so there’s similarities but it still feels fresh and new.
Stephen: Yeah, it’s been six years and we said we’d come back for sure.
Recently, there have been a lot of bands reuniting with the likes of AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses and they have really vocal fanbases. Do you feel pressured to meet the expectations of your fans with regards to reuniting?
Aaron: I don’t feel lots of pressure or expectations. I think people are either glad we’re back or they don’t care [laughs]. I think I’m just glad to be doing it and to have an audience. I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel and play with some folks. But I think we feel less pressure now than we did before we broke up. Because now, we’re doing it because it’s fun and it’s free-and-easy.
During the reunion tour, you guys weren’t doing so well sales-wise and you had already toured through the US extensively. So coming from that, was the reception to the new album, “Ixora”, something that met your expectations?
Aaron: Definitely. During the reunion tour, we felt like we had met a lot of the goals that we had for ourselves. The things that we hadn’t attained didn’t seem within our reach because we’d pretty much stopped growing. We didn’t want to see the band fizzle out and we cared about our legacy too much to overstay our welcome, so we tried to go out and end it on a high note.
Coming back five years later, it definitely exceeded our expectations. Sales-wise, we had our best first week that we’ve ever had so we were pleasantly surprised and grateful for the fans that came through and supported us.
There are a lot of electronic influences on the album. Would that be a mainstay or would you change it up in the future?
Aaron: I think we all enjoy electronic music and making it so I think it would probably be an element that we will continue to explore. But I love writing for organic instruments too so I think we’ll continue to do both. I don’t see a point where we’d make a completely electronic album or completely guitar-driven or piano album. I think we love too many different things to limit ourselves.
There are a lot of guitars in the earlier albums so I’m wondering if you’d go back to that sound.
Aaron: We’ve always had keyboard elements and even on the first record we had programmed drums. I feel like the electronic element has always been there. As for making a record that sounds like the first or second record, I think we’re different people now. We’ve grown and I don’t write nearly as many poppy or catchy melodies anymore, it just doesn’t come naturally.
Bryan: I think the earlier records have more rock guitars and I don’t think any of us personally gravitate to it as much anymore. There’s still plenty of guitar on the record but they’re used a lot more carefully versus ‘Let’s make this part big with the big strumming guitar’. I don’t think we’d go back to that guitar-driven style.
Aaron, I think you’ve mentioned before that you find lyrics the hardest part of writing a song. But is there a particular lyric that you really like or that you’re really proud of?
Aaron: The chorus of “Chin Up” is probably one of my favourite lyrics. I don’t really know how I did that [laughs]. I don’t know how I’ll do it again.
Bryan: “Have I Always Loved You”, off the new record. I was running the computer while Aaron was tracking the vocals to it. At that point, it was later in the recording process and I was missing my family and wife a lot. Aaron was singing this over and over and I had to keep listening to the lyrics. Eventually, I got Stephen to take over because I had to leave the room to compose myself for a few minutes. I still really connect with that song a lot.
Stephen: There’s one specific lyric that’s my favourite on the record and it ended up becoming a t-shirt that we sold. It’s ‘A billion stars and here we are’. I felt that it has a lot of impact visually and I really love it.
Aaron: It’s from “I Can Make You Feel Young Again”. ‘A billion stars and here we are, the same bit of dirt holding our weight’. So basically, in this whole universe with 300 billlion stars and two of us ending up on the same piece of dirt, I really like that.
What are some of the things that you can do now with the experience that you have, that you weren’t able to back then?
Aaron: I think it’s mostly hindsight, just thinking about a decade of decisions we made that we have to live with years later. Stupid stuff but it matters when I look back because it’s things that represent my music. When I see a stupid t-shirt design that we approved because we were too lazy to ask for a different one and now it’s still a t-shirt that has my band name on it. So now I think we’re a lot more careful to make sure that everything we do will still be something that would be representative of us.
If I’d known to be a more picky, I feel like we would’ve gone further. Like why did we do an album of cover songs? It was such a waste of time and we don’t really like any of them. When someone brings it up, I’m like “Oh yeah, we did that, why did we do that?” [laughs]. It wasn’t a good idea but we did it just because we were young. It’s like we were just along for the ride when we could have been in the driver’s seat.
You’re all involved in other projects. Can you talk more about them?
Aaron: I own a recording studio, where I do my hip-hop music (The Lulls in Traffic). Bryan designs guitar pedals. Stephen is involved in production with other artists. So we all have our own things going on.
What are your future plans?
Aaron: I think we’ll still carry on making Copeland records.
Bryan: At this point, we can’t break up again. [All laugh]
Aaron: People will start to call bullshit.
Stephen: Who would believe us? We already did that once!
Aaron: Yeah, I think we’ll still continue making Copeland records and pursuing other things too. I’ll still work on The Lulls in Traffic. Bryan and Stephen have talked about doing more States stuff. I think we’ll continue to branch out but still do Copeland, we’re having fun with it.
Bryan: After this little run, we’ll probably be working on other stuff throughout the year. We’ll talk about writing for the next Copeland record maybe at the end of this year and start working on it early the next year. So there’ll be a little time between now and then where we’ll be pursuing our other interests.
Last question: if you could make a pop song, who would you collaborate with?
Aaron: I would collaborate with Banks. She’s my bae.
Bryan: I’d go for Max Martin, who’s one of the legendary pop songwriters of modern times along with Peter Svensson.
Stephen: That’s what I was going to go for!
Bryan: They’ve done a couple songs together so I think they’re a pretty great pop team.
Aaron: Yeah, he wrote for Carly Rae Jepsen.
Stephen: [long pause] I don’t know…..
Bryan: Kesha. She needs someone to work with.
Yeah, she just released a new song with Zedd!
Aaron: She did? That’s great!
Stephen: Okay, I’ll do some real pop. I’ll go with Flume.
Great choice! Thank you so much, guys! Any last words?
Bryan: We love Singapore!
Aaron: Yeah we’re glad to be here!
Copeland will be making their return to Singapore on Tuesday, 3rd May 2016 at TAB Singapore. Tickets are now available from Peatix for $78 and are $98 at the door. There are also limited VIP meet-and-greet tickets priced at $128 each.
The show is organised by Snowbird Productions, who were previously responsible for bringing in Against The Current and Lenka.