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Hotstar


12:00 AM Monday, 12/18/06 |   |

When Florida pop-rock outfit Copeland released its sophomore album, In Motion, in 2005, many of the album's songs were already well-honed from two years on the road. For its latest full-length, Eat, Sleep, Repeat, the band had to come up with everything from scratch.

"We hadn't gotten to play any of these on tour," frontman Aaron Marsh told Pollstar. "They kind of all were written on a two-month break, so it was a different vibe. The parts all came together a little bit differently because they hadn't been tested out on tour. Everything was a little more fresh and kept us in more of an experimental mindset."

Marsh, the primary songwriter of the band, handles guitar, piano and vocals and is joined by James Likeness on bass and backing vocals, Bryan Laurenson on guitar and piano, and Jonathan Bucklew on drums. A fifth member, Stephen Laurenson, serves as touring guitarist.

The group is booked by The Agency Group's Nick Storch, who jumped on board after the band's former agent, Melanie King, left TAG for a new career at Maverick Records.

"I reached out to Kyle right away and said, 'I love the band, been a fan for years, please let me get involved,'" Storch told Pollstar. "My roster's primarily heavier artists [Cannibal Corpse, Atreyu], but this is a band I always really appreciated.

"So, after a couple of months of talking, we finally decided to work together and it's been awesome ever since. They're really smart people and they really get what their vision is."

The band recently signed with Columbia after fulfilling a three-album contract with The Militia Group. Manager Kyle Griner, who has known Marsh since high school, told Pollstar the entire deal came together in fewer than three weeks. Negotiations moved quickly, Griner said, because The Militia Group, like Columbia, is under the Sony umbrella and Columbia's execs were already familiar with the group.

"They are a workhorse, man, they really are a juggernaut," Griner said of Copeland. "By music industry standards, they're probably getting older - they're in their mid- and late 20s - but they just really like to tour. They love the interaction with kids.

"They view performing as a different art form than recording," he continued. "When they're recording, they don't worry or think about how we're going to pull this off live, because those are different art forms to them. They cross that bridge whenever they get to it.

"I think we're still averaging 175 or 200 shows a year. And this far into their career, I think that's a pretty good testament to their work ethic."

So how will the move to Columbia affect the band's touring?

"That's a good question," Griner said. "That's something we're all actually wondering.

"Early on in this transition, it's very comforting and exciting to have so many passionate people involved with the band. Over at Militia Group, we had a very small handful of people. They were all very passionate about the band, but they were wearing dozens of different hats each, so a lot of stuff fell through the cracks just by default of being an indie label. That's just part of the process.

"But here, it's great, because we've got a whole touring team - tour marketing, lifestyle marketing, and people who really get Copeland's vision and who they are and who they want to be ... . I think the marketing and publicity opportunities are going to be tremendous."

For his part, Marsh said he wasn't sure what to expect.

"I don't know," the musician said. "People can talk about putting you on tour with so-and-so but you never know if that stuff's really going to happen or not until there's an offer on the table. They've definitely talked about getting on some more high-profile tours but we'll see if that happens.

"We're content," he explained. "We like touring small and mid-size venues, and if we do bigger stuff, that's cool, but we don't mind where we are. We're really content with our position."

The group built its fan base over five years of hard touring, with plenty of hours logged in "VFW halls, basements and living rooms," in Marsh's words. Prior to its latest headlining tour, the band did lengthy runs with Jack's Mannequin and The Starting Line - two acts also navigating the major-label waters.

"Signing with a major label is totally a gamble, especially for a small or mid-sized band," Marsh said. "It's the kind of thing that's either going to blow the band up or totally stunt our growth - we could be stuck in a huge filthy contract that doesn't allow us to make records for five years.

"But we're kind of at that point where we're all content. If everything ended today, I'd be totally satisfied with the run that we've had. If it does well, then that's great too," he said. "We felt like it was time to either step it up or call it quits, and we decided to step it up."

Storch expressed confidence that Copeland won't be sorry it made the jump.

"I think it's just going to broaden the horizons and get their music to some new people," Storch said, "which will then blossom, hopefully, into some new touring opportunities for the band."

"They've always had the ability to tour in secondary markets and tertiaries and everything. If anything, this will make the situation that much stronger."

 


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