Copeland’s Bryan Laurenson on Breaking Up, Reuniting + ‘Ixora’
After several years of being on hiatus, Copeland reunited to release Ixora on Nov. 24, 2014, their follow-up to 2008's You Are My Sunshine. Six years since anyone has heard new material from the Lakeland, Fla.-based band, fans were overjoyed by the news that the indie rockers they grew to know and love were coming back -- and in a big way.
We chatted with lead guitarist Bryan Laurenson about the details surrounding the band's decision to go their separate ways in 2010 and why they decided to get back together last year. Laurenson also delves into how fans have reacted to their reunion, what 2015 looks like for them and, of course, the new album.
While I'm sure you have already been asked this many times, why did you guys decide to get back together?
It was a culmination of realizing there were still fans out there who cared, as well as each of us being in a place personally that it could work, schedule-wise. Once those things kind of clicked, it was about seeing if the songs were there. We didn't want to do an album just to do it. We wanted the songs to dictate the decision on whether making another record made sense. Once we realized we felt the songs were there, it was an easy decision to make.
When Copeland decided to call it quits, it seemed like it came as a surprise to many. How did you feel about the fans' responses to the breakup?
We knew the breakup would be disappointing to fans, but we were trying to do it the right way. We were able to announce a farewell tour in conjunction with the breakup, which allowed us to say goodbye to friends and fans rather than grinding it out until we just couldn't do it anymore.
The response to us coming back together for the new record has blown us away. It's been so amazing and encouraging to see how many people are still interested in the music we make. It's hard to put into words.
Before getting into Ixora, what were you guys up to from the last show you played to the moment you got into the studio?
Aaron [Marsh] built a recording studio in Lakeland, Fla., and has been working and producing bands there over the past few years. Jon [Bucklew] started a modern design furniture company and it has been flourishing. It keeps him fairly busy. Stephen [Laurenson] and myself started another band called States along with vocalist Mindy White. We did a little touring and put out a few albums. I also began doing more studio work for other bands, specifically mixing. My wife and I had a couple of kids during that time, as did Aaron and his wife.
When Copeland decided to regroup and put Ixora together, how was the transition back into the band? Were there difficulties?
Honestly, there were very few difficulties. We were able to approach this album extremely refreshed. There were no expectations -- either internal or external -- on what the album needed to be. We were just able to do whatever came natural. It was easily the smoothest album making process we have had together, in my opinion.
What's the most memorable song that you worked on for Ixora?
"Like a Lie" was one of the more memorable ones for me. The chorus to that one didn't feel like Copeland at all. It was heading in a certain direction, and we felt we could either tone it down and change courses or just let it keep going naturally. We stayed the course, and it definitely doesn't sound like any other Copeland song. It may be my favorite track on the record.
How did you approach this album compared to the past?
We mostly approached things similarly to past records. There was less pressure, I suppose, from external forces like record labels and whatnot. So that can make things more natural. We knew we wanted to take a more orchestral approach to some of the songs, as well as implement more electronic elements. So we did that.
Since it's been a few years since Copeland put anything out, how do you feel growing up has affected your approach to music?
I am definitely not motivated by success like I was when I was younger. Not that success was a large factor in making albums early on, but there's always the pressure to make music that people will like when you're starting out. Is it accessible enough? Nowadays that really doesn't enter my mind at all. As long as it is honest and natural, that's all that really matters.
Beyond the band's reunion, what has the fans' response been like for the album itself?
It's been overwhelmingly positive. We really try to never make the same record twice, which can mean we may leave some people behind who like our older stuff better. But in general we have really amazing fans that seem to like to journey with us.
What's something you wish you knew when you first started Copeland?
Hard to say. Without the mistakes and experiences we make, then we don't become the people we are today. Perhaps I would have advised us to never try to step foot in the major label world. I don't think it was ever going to fit the type of band we are, and it ended up being counterproductive.
What's next for the band in 2015?
We are heading out with our old buds in Paramore in April and May. It will be our first tour in five years and we are really excited. That's the only thing confirmed. Ideally we may play some more shows later in the year.
Since talking with Laurenson, Paramore have announced the dates for their spring tour with Copeland, which you can see here. Copeland will also be hitting the road with Valise -- get those dates here.