This time last year, nothing felt out of the ordinary for frontman/guitarist Gabe Simon and the rest of the Nashville based Kopecky Family Band. They had released a spectacular tandem of EPs to end 2010, The Disaster and Of Epic Proportions, and were ready to take their act on the road in a big way.
They just didn’t know how big 2011 would end up being.
“This past year totally snuck up on us,” Simon said. “We weren’t sure it’d be the year it was. We set the bar high at the beginning, but it wasn’t moving that quickly.”
Fast forward to today and Kopecky is riding a wave of momentum and accolades that rivals, if not bests that of any band out there. They played CMJ in New York and caught the eyes and ears of NPR’s music staff, earning them their own Tiny Desk concert. Their second straight year at SXSW included a performance at the Paste Magazine showcase, a publication the band has become close friends with. They put in an energetic showing at Bonnaroo, the mother-of-all summer music festivals, in their home state of Tennessee.
And then there was the cherry on top: being named one of 2011’s top 25 live acts PERIOD, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD by Paste Magazine, an achievement Simon is still in awe of today.
“I don’t even know…do I agree?” he asked himself of the high praise, followed by a laugh. “Should I be on this list?”
He laughed again, saying “Paul Simon is on this list” with a sense of disbelief at being mentioned in the same sentence with an artist of that caliber.
But there’s no doubt Kopecky’s work ethic has earned them the right to be catalogued with the world’s top performers. Consider this snapshot of their young 2012 as proof – on Jan. 16, they had finished up a nine-day run in the studio; by the end of January, they will have finished a five date mini-tour and will be gearing up for seven shows in less than two weeks to kick off February. Their penchant for touring and connecting with people through live music is astounding, as if they have an insatiable desire to be on the road.
Yet, with all of that touring experience built up over the last few years, Simon still can’t shake the butterflies. He recalled a show in Louisville, KY, where he was the most terrified he’d ever been performing and it took him four songs to get comfortable. He couldn’t really recall Bonnaroo, describing it only as a blur.
But the show must go on, and Simon wouldn’t change a thing.
“The day I’m not so nervous is the day that I want to be skeptical.”
The group is currently recording what will be their first full-length release, one that Simon says will feature 12 tracks and include the “buffer points,” songs that give better transition from track to track on the record, that their previous EPs did not.
“We kind of tried to maintain an air of making something for someone on every record,” Simon said of the wide diversity of cuts that will be on the new release.
As to how Kopecky plans to keep churning along at their current breakneck pace into 2012, Simon used two words repeatedly – excitement and passion – and offered some advice for bands looking to break through the crust.
“Get outside your comfort zone and work as hard as you possibly can,” he said. “It’s about your fans; it’s about hanging out with them, meeting them, talking to them, sleeping on their couches – developing a relationship with these people.
“What you’re doing is a business…but it has to be something you love. Passion is big.”
Kopecky Family Band will be playing at 5 Points Pub on Tuesday, February 7. kemp ridley opens. Tickets are $5 through Scene SC, $5 for USC students and $10 at the door for all others 18 and up. Doors will open at 8 p.m., show starts at 9 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.the5pointspub.com/ or call the venue at (803) 253-7888.
Kopecky Family Band is Scene SC’s official Band of the Month. In honor of that, you should check out their show at the Pub AND download their track “God and Me (Remix)” from Of Epic Proportions FOR FREE on the right-hand sidebar of their website. Below is a video David shot of them playing in Greenville. Enjoy.