late 2008 Copeland released its fourth studio album, You Are My Sunshine. While the album contained all that fans of the band would most-likely consider definitive-Copeland (catchy melodies with a tendency to belie darker and deeper lyrics), the title and the songs themselves seemed to indicate that the band is in a different place than when we last heard from them on their major-label release Eat, Sleep, Repeat.
Understanding that a lot took place between the release of Eat, Sleep Repeat and You Are My Sunshine, RELEVANT had the chance to connect with frontman Aaron Marsh to get his take on the new album, the band’s label shakeup and their connection with fans.
You Are My Sunshine seems to show the band in a much different place than where you were when Eat, Sleep, Repeat was released. Can you talk about some of the changes that occurred between the two albums and how they influenced You Are My Sunshine?
Well, the obvious change is the label. That played into our attitude when we were making the record for sure. We came to Tooth and Nail with some pretty ambitious ideas about how our record would be presented. The fact that they were so open to our requests definitely gave us some fire when we were making the record. Also, the fact that we didn’t have a label when we started writing the record, and we were essentially writing songs to shop to labels, made us really want to write strong songs and put our best foot forward.
There are two tracks on You Are My Sunshine (“The Grey Man” and “Chin Up”) that lyrically deal with coming ‘back to the start.’ Would you say that the idea of a re-set or re-prioritization was a theme for the record and/or for the band?
No, those lyrics aren’t really referring to our career. I hope that our career hasn’t gone back to the start. As usual, most of the lyrics on the record are more inspired by life and love. It’s not really my style to talk about our career in our songs.
The new album sounds much brighter than Eat, Sleep, Repeat, so much so that the reworking of “Chin Up” seems almost hopeful. Was the mood of the album a conscious choice in light of the much more introspective tone of Eat, Sleep, Repeat?
That’s interesting. We weren’t setting out to make something blatantly brighter. I feel like the songs themselves are fairly dark. I really like the line between lovely and creepy and we tried to stick close to that with the treatment of the songs. The lyrics are pretty dark, but the brighter music gives some balance.
The band has now worked with three different record labels. What is your overall philosophy in terms of working with a label? Do you view them as part of the creative process or more as a delivery channel or something else?
I try to keep them out of the creative process as much as I can. Tooth and Nail has been great. I think they trust us to make a record that our fans will enjoy. While I don’t think labels should be involved in the creative process in terms of shaping the record, I think they need to have a good understanding of the kind of record the artist wants to make in order to market them properly.
I would think that touring around the country would provide you with some unique perspectives. Have you noticed anything different, tangible or otherwise, with this tour, in terms of turnout for shows, the conversations you’ve had with fans or general observations?
Doing so many tours, and touring with so many different bands has really made me appreciate the folks who come to see us play headlining shows. I really feel like our fans love music for the same reasons I do. They look for good melodies, songs that really mean something and music that has the power to move you. We don’t have any of the fans who are just looking for the band to do backflips or bust out a glossy radio single. I’m having a great time playing to our fans right now.