Brian Copeland Band


'The B Sides' would certainly constitute 'A' material for the vast majority of alt-rock practitioners out there. It's one of Copeland's best efforts regardless.

The notion of a 'B Side' lost its treasured perch in the vernacular of modern music with the advent of the CD, then quietly retired from consideration to become a sentimental cipher of times long past in the age of immaterial media. Now it's a term understood by comparatively ancient people (anyone over thirty) to talk about rituals of the physical world that could barely be comprehended by today's youth (save in the sense of a game cartridge or the like). That's what makes it so appropriate in concept for Copeland's new album, which is original in execution but quite classic in style; precisely the qualities that allowed modern music to progress so capably for decades before foundering on its digital democratization to the lowest ranks of ambition and skill. Independent reporter Lily Clark recently caught up with the handsome musician to talk about the Portland music scene, his history in the art since the age of ten, and his hopes and expectations for the coming days.

LILY: Let's just get this out in the open - What is the craziest thing that has happened to you in your music career?
BRIAN: Probably a short solo music tour in the UK several years ago. I played a few shows in London and then took a side trip to Paris for a few days where I lost my passport and missed my flight to Dublin. I had to go to the American Embassy to replace my passport, but they were closed until the next day. So I spent the rest of the day kicking around Paris where it started snowing as I walked down the Champes Elysees (in April)! The next day, I ended up spending a few hours in the embassy getting my temporary passport before continuing on to Dublin for a performance there. Anyway, I had such a memorable ‘extra’ day in Paris that I wrote and recorded a song about it called #53 (on the ‘Circles’ recording). ‘Here on my own, but it's not so bad to be alone. No picture ID, but I'm living in a fantasy...’ A strange, but incredible trip!

LILY: Your song ‘Closer To OK' is receiving a positive listener response on radio. What was your initial reaction when you first heard your song playing on radio?
BRIAN: I have had several songs on the radio over the years, and I have to say it never gets old! The first time I heard myself on the radio I was really excited, but sort of nervous at the same time. Like even though I knew what my recording sounded like, I was praying that I would sound good on the radio. Funny huh?

LILY: What was the inspiration behind your debut radio single?
BRIAN: I was feeling pretty overwhelmed with the busyness of life when I wrote ‘Closer To OK.’ I had really taken on too much with music, a day job, relationships, family, etc. and I felt like I needed a break from everything for a bit - you know, to take some deep breaths and recharge the batteries a bit. I was happy with my life and was not at all trying to ‘run away,’ but just needed a little time to myself. And it is amazing what a little time away will do!

LILY: It is often said that great art arises from difficult experience. Is there something in your life experience thus far that you would describe as the ‘catalyst’ or ‘fuel’ for your desire to create music?
BRIAN: I have been really fortunate in my life not to have many difficult experiences. Probably going through a divorce is at the top of the list. I fell in love with well-crafted pop songs as a kid growing up in the seventies and eighties and ever since have been fueled to create, perform and record music - and do it well. I am not sure where it comes from, but it is just right there, deep in the center of my being.

LILY: How would you characterize yourself as an artist/musician? (Ex. Down-to-earth, serious, fun-loving, complicated…)
BRIAN: Hard-working and fun-loving - there is a time and place for both.


LILY: What has your experience been like working with the other people on your team?
BRIAN: Sometimes it takes a while to find the right people, but I have now surrounded myself with an amazing team. From my uber-talented band to my engineer/producer, graphics team, publicist and photographer - they are all incredible at what they do and a pleasure to work with!

LILY: Did you come from a musical background? Are there other musicians in your family?
BRIAN: No professional musicians in my family (that I know of), but a pretty musical family still. I remember my mom having a nice voice and my dad used to play trumpet a bit. There was always music being played around our house, which was a big part of my life growing up.

LILY: What do you find most rewarding about being an artist? What do you find most challenging?
BRIAN: Rewarding: The feeling of writing a great song and having a crowd love it! Challenging: How competitive it is and how difficult it is to make a career out of music, no matter how hard you work.

LILY: Who are your role models in music?
BRIAN: Oh man, so many. Basically, anyone who writes great songs. I grew up on seventies/eighties radio - so the Beatles, Zeppelin, AC/DC, James Brown, Elton John, Prince, Billy Joel, Madonna, Crowded House, etc. More recently, KT Tunstall and Brandi Carlile. And John Mayer has been a big inspiration as a guitar player and a songwriter.

LILY: Describe your best or most memorable performance.
BRIAN: About ten years ago, my band won the Emergenza Music Festival in Portland (OR). Our final show was amazing. We were firing on all cylinders and there was a packed house, complete with a panel of judges. And we nailed it. Such energy that night!

LILY: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists out there who are unsure and need guidance?
BRIAN: It might sound cliche, but I would say make sure you are having fun and love what you are doing. If you end up famous and making a bunch of money, that's great, but most of us are not doing this to make a lot of money. It has to be fun and feed your soul!

LILY: What's next for you as an artist? Is there a new single in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
BRIAN: I could tell you but then I'd have to... No really, I am in the process of writing and recording a handful of songs with my producer Keith Sommers. Sounding amazing, but we are just getting started. I don't know exactly where it will go, but I have a feeling we will be releasing some new material in the fall/winter, with live dates in the spring/summer of 2016.

LILY: Thank you so much Brian for taking the time to speak with us about your long history in music and ambitions for the coming days. You're a very talented artist and we expect to hear great things about the band soon!

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