The Copyrights

North Sentinel Island

BY Farah BarakatPublished Jul 23, 2011

Veteran punk rockers the Copyrights return with their long awaited fourth album and best effort to date. Following a three-year hiatus in which the band decided to take a different approach with their production quality, they emerge with North Sentinel Island, a compelling album that follows 2007's Learn the Hard Way with a more technically developed version of their classic three-chord pop punk structure. Working with notorious punk producer Mat Allison (Alkaline Trio, the Menzingers, etc.), their DIY sound is replaced with layered guitar and clearer vocal tracks. Premiere number "Crutches" blasts through with driving guitar and heartfelt gang vocals amidst Adam Fletcher's poignant lyrics, allowing for lines like, "I wanna die with a worn out passport" ("Worn Out Passport") to resonate in the foreground amidst quick, snappy guitar melodies. The 14-track album is an amalgamation of urgent pop punk and the same catchy hooks and rhythmic qualities of their past work. Elements of the member's side-projects (most notably Fletcher and Brett Hunter's Dear Landlord) shine through some hook changes and melodies. Long time followers will not be disappointed as the Copyrights strum out songs that don't stray too far from their original sound, either lyrically or musically.

What are your thoughts on this album?
Bassist/vocalist Fletcher: We're real happy with the way it turned out. With this one we wanted to make things right. We have two shows in Chicago on August 5 and 6 at smaller venues. They're going to be more intimate little shows. Red Scare will be releasing the digital and CD versions of the album and It's Alive is doing the twelve-inch LP version, which is great because we put out records with both of those labels for years so it's awesome to do it again. Usually we make them and about six months later they come out, but it's great that they're putting them out at the same time. The LP version is really cool-looking vinyl too.

This album was three years in the making. What sets it apart from your other work? What can fans expect with this album?
I would say that for most Copyrights fans it won't be too much of a shock. We didn't switch around our sound too much. First thing people will notice is that the entire album is pretty much mid-tempo. Production-wise, we spent a lot time doing things that we haven't done on previous albums. Mat Allison is a really good friend of ours and he wanted to take the time to do it right no matter how long it took and we were all into that idea. It shows in the overall sound of the record. It took us almost a year to record also because we were taking our time with that and other projects we also had going. I would definitely say there are lots of layered guitar, layered sounds. We wanted to make a record that you can listen to on headphones ― still sticking with simple songs but with more layered production.

Luke McNeill (drummer) did an interview recently where he said he really likes Fucked Up, a Canadian band and you played Pouzza Fest with Dear Landlord last month. What's your take on the Canadian punk scene as of late?
I love the Canadian scene! We've always loved the Canadian punk scene. A friend of ours from Montreal played guitar on our first tour ever. I think the Canadian influence just keeps getting bigger and bigger, like with Pouzza Fest. I think it's the Canadian answer to the Gainesville fest, which it's modelled after. Fucked Up's The Chemistry of Modern Life record, with all of its layered guitars, influenced some of the stuff going on in this new Copyrights record, production-wise, not sound-wise. We'll be coming back in September to play shows in Canada. We're not exactly sure what cities yet but definitely the bigger Canadian cities. We mostly do shows in Quebec, Montreal and Toronto. Dear Landlord played a show in Ottawa on the last tour.

New pop punk bands have been popping up a lot lately. What's your take on this new wave/generation?
I've been getting that question for eight years, ever since we started playing. When we first started playing our style of punk, it wasn't a popular thing to do. I guess that sound has developed; I don't see much more of those paint-by-numbers, formulaic, derivative bands being that popular. Bands that are good at it have been touring and working hard at it and building their success that way. I don't see a new wave or labels jumping onto pop punk bands. There's a difference between mall punk and pop punk bands and the mall punk bands got more attention for a while. There's a misconception that pop punk has been written off as punk with melody. The term "pop punk" is kind of a blanket term; it got really pop in '90s radio. Like New Found Glory and that type of sound.

Back in September, you said things were up in the air as to what label you'd be going with or how the album would be released, but you went with Red Scare again. What was the reason for the hesitation?
Toby [Red Scare] is our super-coolest friend and the only thing we were trying to do was to shop it around or put it out to a bigger label. Toby is a one-man operation, but one guy can only do so much. We felt that it's not necessary to commit ourselves a year in advance. We wanted to finish it, shop it around and see who would be interested in doing it. A couple of labels were interested but they decided it wasn't for them. Toby was always there willing to put it out. Fat Wreck wasn't into it. Adaline was interested, which was interesting, but weren't capable of doing it either. We're really happy to be doing this on Red Scare again and we're taking a different approach by actually doing a proper release where we do stuff like this and tour around it and things like that. Before, we always just kind of put it out and went on tour and called it a day.

How do you juggle being in multiple tour-heavy bands?
Dear Landlord has been pretty busy for the last couple of years because Zach [Gontard] was in Off With Their Heads. Other members have schedules where we're capable of going on tour whenever we want, so we were hopping on tours with Off With Their Heads whenever they were touring. The Copyrights stuff has to be more planned out because other members need time off work and that complicates things a bit. Once the Dear Landlord album came out, and the Copyrights have been touring steadily our whole career, Brett and I were capable of going back and forth between the two, which doesn't leave a lot of downtime between tours. We're keeping busy, juggling tours, making a bit of money, any money that comes in to keep money in our pockets while we go between tours. It's not that hard because neither band are the type to be on tour for ten months straight. It makes it easier to juggle between the two bands. And the shows keep getting bigger and better.

You have a big fan base in the UK, any plans to go out there for this tour?
In May, that's the plan. It's not set in stone but I'll go ahead and say it. Last time we didn't get in because of border difficulties but this time we definitely want to go again. We're just beginning to talk to our booking agent.

What's your songwriting style? Do you have a different method of approaching things musically with each band you work with?
Luke is the mastermind behind the Copyrights. He's a fantastic songwriter. In Dear Landlord, Brad and Zach do most of it. Mostly Brad. I do what I do. The Copyrights stuff is pretty open. Me and Luke have been playing together since 1994. We learned to play together, so it's a brother relationship with him. We're all really open if anyone thinks anything should be changed around. No one gets their feelings hurt by anyone's opinion and that's really important for a band. Sure, songs are an intimate thing, but we're vocal on what we should try and shouldn't.
(Red Scare)

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