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Kopecky Family Band Interview: “Seven People Bring Different Emotions, as Well as Ideas”

Kopecky Family Band @ Grimey's Records, Nashville, TN
Kopecky Family Band may be based out of Nashville, TN but they have some South Carolinian roots.  The family is made up of 7 members who all bring a unique talent to the band. In what will surely go down as one of the classiest interviews SceneSC has ever done, I met up with the band at a wine bar in East Nashville to discuss their new EP and how they stay calm on tour, among other things. While at first the thought of interviewing the entire band at once intimidated me, I soon learned I had nothing to worry about. Gabe [vocal/guitar/trombone], Kelsey [vocal/keys], Steven [lead guitar/vocal], Corey [bass guitar/sleigh bells], Ben [violin/xylophone/guitar/vocal], David [drums/percussion], and Marcus [cello/percussion/guitar] were nothing but awesome and fun to interview.

Tell us a little bit about your new album and the writing process behind it.

Kelsey– Our new record is called the Disaster, it came out on August 3rd and it’s on iTunes and our bandcamp site. Or go to  www.kopeckyfamilyband.com and click ‘music’. It was a really fun record, we started writing it about a year and half ago I guess, recorded at the House of David in Nashville, in October of last year. Started and just kind of worked on it for a few months, had it mastered at Abbey Road in London, which was really exciting. And then put it out and have gotten a lot of really good reviews from it.  And then we’ve been touring for the last few months, just through the summer, hitting a lot of different markets like Chicago and a lot of different cities.

Steven- When we were writing it, it wasn’t really like one or two people doing most of the writing, it was really a shared effort.  It was a lot of us, throwing an idea here, if one of us has a line, a chorus, a verse, a rough sketch of an entire song, we really all worked together, putting pieces together. And for me at least, and I think for the rest of the band, its really kind of what stands out about us and the album, that it was such a collaboration. I just love that about it.

Gabe- That’s kind of the big perk about having seven people in the band. Even if one person comes up with an idea, it automatically becomes seven people’s different ideas, all alternating and changing what the original concept was, and now it’s something completely different.  And no matter what we do, even if one person brings it up, it’s always a different song at the end of the day and it’s all of us involved.

So are the songs mostly about relationships or events? And how does having both girls and guys in the band affect the songwriting?

Gabe- Only a few of the songs are actually about relationships, they’re more about like…

Kelsey– … big life, big picture things…

Gabe– …concepts, and stuff like that. Like with the title track of our new record, “The Disaster”, it is actually based off the book The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.  Loosely based, in the sense that the picture is basically trying to put your hope and your faith in things that cannot be relinquished in custody. They might fall apart, or burn down or be destroyed.  The picture that C.S. Lewis paints is that he describes hell as a house with no roof on it.  The things that you trusted when you were in safety were no longer things that you could trust anymore. The rain was always coming in, the neighbors were always lying to you, you couldn’t trust anything.  And so that was kind of the concept to the song “Disaster”.  That theme flowed through the rest of the songs on the record, but it became very personal after that song was written. Like, our poppiest song on the record, “Birds” is probably one of the most emotionally deep ones, and is about a big struggle [Kelsey’s] family had at one point in her life.  And even all the way to the one song, “Red Devil,”  Stephen and I wrote about kind of a relationship, but more abstract in the way that you could think about running away from something like love, or hurt, or anybody.

Kelsey– They’re all definitely dear song to us, which I think is the special part of it.

Gabe– And again, seven people bring different emotions, as well as ideas.

Steven– Going back to what you asked about writing relationships, and somebody specific… you’re mostly just taking an experience you had with somebody and making it into a universal thing so that other people can relate to it. So instead of taking things about these people, you’re mainly taking like the specifics of the situations that are just universal emotions. These are things that everybody does, or certain kinds of people.  These are just things that happen in life. You’re just kind of pinpointing a few specifics and bringing them out so that other people can relate to them, rather than like “the girl with the blue eyes and the brown hair ripped my heart out” kind of thing. Still specific things, but being more general and relatable about it.

How has being in Nashville, Music City USA, effected your career as a band? Do you think it helps or hurts to be in a place almost over saturated with music?

Ben– One thing that we’ve learned is just that by keeping at it for long enough, people will eventually start to notice and think “hey, I remember you guys”. You don’t have to necessarily win people over at the beginning; you just have to keep doing what you’re doing.  And as long as it isn’t awful, it’s alright. I mean, most of the times that we play its always a positive response.  It’s just all about how to keep good things coming, especially in new markets like to go play in Chattanooga is great. But if you never go back then it doesn’t mean much. Even if you gain like 3 fans, when you go back they will have brought their friends that they told about you.
I think that being in Nashville is one of the hardest things, but once you do become comfortable playing there, it’s like you can conquer any other city. It’s a cool environment though, and you know a lot of your peers around you.

Any dream artist collaborations?

Kelsey– Andrew Bird! ..and Beyonce! I’ve always had this dream that I sing with Andrew Bird, I really feel like it’s going to happen. I mean, I dunno, I have this weird feeling. It could be totally bogus, so we’ll see. But also, Beyonce… her dance moves… I love her!

Can you do the dance moves and whistle at the same time?

Kelsey– Probably, I mean if I really work on it.

Gabe– We all have different people. It’s actually funny, we got picked up by a booking agency a few months ago and we were like sitting down, looking at their roster and bands we’d like to go out on the road with and it was everyone from like Grizzly Bear to Lady Gaga. And so it wasn’t like we were going to get any of these tours but it was still fun to be like “let’s go out with Gnarls Barkley, or let’s go out with this person…” it was just all these dream tours that we wanted. But now we’re actually talking about some stuff in the Spring that would be a reality and would be pretty cool.

Ben– A couple of guys in the band love Pedro the Lion, a lot of us Arcade Fire fans, and so a lot of us have common likes and common inspirations. Marcus and I both love Sigur Rós, Gabe loves Menomena. I think there is a vast array of people we would like to collaborate with.
As far as local bands we’d like to collaborate with, we’re big fans/friends of Apache Relay.

Gabe– …same thing with our friends in Diarrhea Planet. And then there are so many good musicians here, like Corey also plays with this band called The Hollywood Ten whom we love as well.

Any South Carolina bands that you love? We have to ask.

David– All Get Out. We love Mel and those guys.

Gabe– Band of Horses, they’re a killer South Carolina band.

Steven– … there aren’t many.

What are you even talking about?

Steven– Edwin McCain! Needtobreathe.

Gabe– Hootie and the Blowfish! No, actually Steven and I both grew up in South Carolina [Upstate] Greenville/Greenwood areas. I remember going to skateparks when I was younger. I used to go to Ximenos Skatepark for hardcore shows all the time. ‘Cause I was in a hardcore band. We used to play with Before Normandy and all those guys. I was in a band called Iris. It’s not important, let’s get back to the current band.

Any pre-show rituals or necessities for tour?

Marcus- Reading materials

Kelsey– Well we have a few things, like when we used to get per diems I used to make them all little personalized envelopes, so that was like my little pre-tour thing. Decorating it with their names and stuff.

Gabe– Daily vitamins, daily arguments about something we forgot.

Kelsey– We always stop a dairy queen if its an even exit unless we’re in a time crunch, and unless Gabe’s driving.

Gabe– Yeah I don’t like to stop. I just want to get there. I’m on a mission, I’ve got a goal, and I want to cut off as many minutes possible on those long trips. We gotta read books too, like I go crazy if I don’t. So I’ll sit there at the venue in the dark, reading a book so I stay calm.

Ben– We like to sing Newsboys songs, and other contemporary Christian hits from the nineties.

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Check out Kopecky Family Band’s “Disaster” EP and catch them on the road and back in South Carolina very soon!

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