Copeland listeners have come to expect more than simplicity from the band’s records, even on one that draws from the classic ditty “You Are My Sunshine.”
“That song is really interesting to me. Everyone kind of remembers it very fondly,” recalls vocalist Aaron Marsh. “You hear about that being a romantic song for a couple or having nostalgia from people’s childhood attached to it, but it’s actually a really creepy song. It’s kind of odd, with like ‘If I can’t have you, no one can’ lyrics.”
This comes as no surprise since multi-faceted art is something Marsh has always gravitated towards, especially recently.
“It might seem very lovely and sweet on the surface, but then it has a darker layer. I feel like a lot of times love is like that,” he says. “It has kind of this darker underbelly to it. I’m always fascinated with stuff like that, and we always try to bring a little bit of that haunting quality to our music.”
Copeland’s Eat, Sleet, Repeat (2006) departs from typical pop formulas in much the same way as 2008’s You Are My Sunshine. Both center around swirling sonic creations and abstract lyrics, all brought to life by Marsh’s ethereal voice.
“People ask how I write songs, and I don’t even really know,” he laughs. “Some songs might be completely about me, and then other ones might only be half about me and half about something else I’ve observed. It’s hard to say. Sometimes I don’t even know when I’m writing about myself.”
One of the things that Marsh, who’s a producer himself during his spare time, learned during the making of Sunshine was to allow songs to deviate from his original visions.
“A record doesn’t have to be exactly the way I had it in my head for it to be good,” he admits. “This is the first record I was really able to relax a little bit about the way it was going to turn out and just let it be what it was going to be.”
The fact Copeland don’t follow popular music trends is probably why the band will never attract a large mainstream following, which has never been Marsh’s intention.
“We really love music, and we want to express ourselves the way that we want to be heard,” he says. “I’d love to tell you our music will be around for a long time, but I don’t really know.”
If Copeland keeps making records like Sunshine, it’s hard so see how it won’t be.
Originally appeared in Campus Circle