Since their debut full-length, Beneath Medicine Tree in 2003, Copeland have never looked back. With the ability to pen the romanticized while generating genuine emotions and enthusiasm, they have moved even the most lukewarm of audiences. So with their sophomore release, In Motion, seeing its fair amount of pre-release fanfare, expectations were undoubtedly higher. While such lofty expectations tend to lead to the sacrificing of integrity, it was never once an option for the members of Copeland.
“We are all really proud of the record,” explains guitarist Bryan Laurenson. “When we recorded it, we tried not to let any outside expectations influence us,” he adds. “Now that it has just come out, we are the same way, we know it might not live up to everyone’s hopes and we have to be ready for that.”
Being ready as well as prepared is something Copeland understands clearly. Even though they were keen to make sure no one else’s expectations influence their direction musically, the band understood they couldn’t just release another, Beneath Medicine Tree. It was clear from the beginning that they had to deliver something that represented their growth and progression over the past few years;
“I think we all feel that In Motion is a more mature and stronger effort than Beneath Medicine Tree,” states Laurenson. “Musically it is more textured and thought out. I feel like it is a huge step,” he adds. “I think both musically and lyrically it is a mature progression from the last [album].”
Lyrically, things are indeed a little different this time around. Beneath Medicine Tree was extremely personal and wretched for lead man Aaron Marsh. Now at a different stage in his life, the lyrics have shifted, and that, according to Laurenson, isn’t necessarily such a bad thing;
“Aaron wrote most of the lyrics to the last record while going through some hard tragedies. This time around, he didn’t have the same things to write about. On the surface, In Motionmight not seem as personal or obvious … and I suppose it isn’t. I think that if you dig into it more though, the record actually has more depth.”
In Motion also finds the band tinkering and experimenting with the instrumentation more than ever providing that depth Laurenson mentioned. This wasn’t really planned though; it was just kind of how things went when the band entered the studio to record the album.
“It was a little more spur of the moment [the experimenting with instrumentation],” explains Laurenson, “Whenever we record, spontaneity seems to play more a part than careful planning,” he adds. “We usually have a rough idea of the direction we want a song to go in. From there, we just let it come out naturally and in the end, sometimes it isn’t what we originally intended at all.”
While the majority of the overall experimentation just kind of fell into place neatly for the band, the altering of tones and styles were achieved a in a different way; “The guitar tones were a little more deliberate,” says Laurenson, “We wanted each song to sound different. We wanted the record to be dramatic sonically, and yet be cohesive at the same time.”
In Motion is definitely cohesive and interconnected as the album boasts a splendid continuity from beginning to end. And it’s not like the band had a lot of time think about these changes as they basically spent two straight years on the road. A lot of time spent playing shows held the band back from essential songwriting time but on the contrary, they were able to draw inspiration from their time spent traveling.
“Musically it is more of a hindrance [touring] for us,” says Laurenson. “We have a harder time writing on the road and when it came time to record In Motion, Aaron and I holed ourselves up in a hotel room for a few days to piece together different parts that had been written on the road.”
As difficult as it was to find time putting together the album, as well as playing shows night after night, the band didn’t want to take any compromises and found time for even the little things. The band takes a lot of pleasure and satisfaction in being in touch with all aspects of putting an album together piece by piece- bassist, James Likeness, designed the artwork and layout for the release.
“James does pretty much all the artwork for the band,” explains Laurenson. “We take a lot of pride in the finished product … we are responsible for not just how we sound, but also how we look.” Laurenson feels this a tremendous advantage having one of their own able to contribute in such creative aspects. “I think we are just lucky that we have a great graphic designer in the band. It is something he loves to do, and it just seems natural for him to do it. Not all bands have the luxury of that.”
The creative side of Copeland ranges far past artwork and design as the band released a covers EP, Know Nothing Stays The Same, last summer before the current release of In Motion; “We spent a couple of weeks just randomly brainstorming songs to cover,” explains Laurenson. “We came up with a lot of songs that were older and we wanted to choose songs that we could put our own spin on,” the band however, hasn’t received any feedback yet from their inspirations; [Laughter] “I don’t think we have heard anything from them,” laughs Laurenson. “I wish though … that would be amazing,” he adds. “Even if they hated our version … it would still be cool to hear from them.”
They recently contributed a piano powered cover of “Every Breath You Take” for the Police Tribute album released by their label, The Militia Group. Laurenson explains how the preparation of preparing these songs really just works itself out;
“We usually figure out what direction we want to take the song. Then we just go for it and see where the initial direction takes us. We don’t do a lot of planning.”
Whether Copeland does a lot of planning or not, they realize that they have to think about what may come next. As much as we would like to live in the now, it is human nature to think about our future all the time. With big time success usually come significant and important changes and decisions. With major labels definitely licking their chops at the possibility of benefiting from the success of Copeland, the guys are doing their best to just play music and let things like signing to a major label take its course naturally.
“Nothing is in the works at the moment,” says Laurenson. “We want to share our music with as many people as possible. We also want to make wise choices at the same time, so I guess we will see…”
We sure will.