On their sophomore effort, Vancouver, BC's Copilots retain their penchant for engagingly off-kilter rock while exploring a dynamic range of moods that helps Escape Through the Trees stand out from the pack. Leader Skye Brooks is a talented musician who plays drums in eclectic, genre-defying bands like Inhabitants and Fond of Tigers, and also backs up songwriters like Veda Hille, Ndidi Onukwulu and Jill Barber, amongst others. As it happens, he's also a skilled guitarist and vocalist with an obvious love of good pop hooks to go along with the more esoteric leanings of his jazz/improvised music groups. In an intriguingly vague manner, Copilots amalgamate this variety of explosive forms in songs written by Brooks, bassist Pete Schmidt and guitarist Chad McQuarrie. The rhythmic push-pull of "Long Hauling" is fuelled by adventurous guitar interplay, while "Blown Around" possesses the slither of "Wrapped Around Your Finger." A refined kind of theatricality permeates the best Copilots songs and "Mirages of Heat" is full of looming tension, as parts weave in and out between crashing group vocal choruses. McQuarrie's voice in particular shines on "Magic Wishes," a fine representative from a Copilots record ripe with passion and driven by precision.
Is it important for you to lead a band?
Brooks: I've felt a very strong urge to write and perform songs for a long time. I'm still getting comfortable on-stage, talking to the audience and trying to be a good singer while I play guitar. I've played drums for a long time, so this is newer, but also very exciting and satisfying in a whole other way.
Was there a collective vision for this record?
I wrote six songs and Pete and Chad each wrote two, so it's more of a collective effort, but it's somehow more cohesive than our first record. My girlfriend, Karma Sohn, also joined us on keyboards. She adds a supple dimension, a harmonic depth to the songs. Her and Chad work really well together as a team.
The drums and bass stand out here.
Rhythm is an important part of Copilots. That could be because I play in bands like Fond of Tigers, where the rhythms can be disorienting but also very natural. I'm attracted to that. I'm not interested in writing music that's jarring. Fundamentally, I'm interested in things really grooving, even if the rhythms are complicated. (Drip Audio)