Kopecky Family Band
Wed, February 26, 2014
Doors: 7:00 PM / Show: 8:00 PM
$20 ADV / $23 DOS
On the lead single from their ninth studio album Fading West, Grammy Award-winning alt-rock band Switchfoot look back to a time when they’d just begun to push toward their dreams of bringing their music to the world. Featuring choir-like backing vocals from the band members’ children—as well as the blend of edgy atmospherics and bright, breezy melodies that’s become a hallmark of Switchfoot’s emotionally intelligent and uplifting brand of rock—“Who We Are” embodies both a sweetly youthful spirit and the hard-won, highly impassioned joy that comes from triumphing through 17 years as a band.
Throughout Fading West—the latest addition to a catalogue that has sold 5.5 million copies worldwide, including 2003’s double-platinum breakthrough The Beautiful Letdown and 2009’s Grammy Award-winning Hello Hurricane—Switchfoot reflect on their journey while wholeheartedly exploring all the pain and wonder of the present. According to frontman Jon Foreman—who founded Switchfoot with his brother Tim and their high-school friend Chad Butler in San Diego in 1996—hitting that balance required a great deal of rediscovery on the part of the band. “The point became, ‘What are we going to do to push ourselves?’” says Foreman of the earliest stages of Fading West’s creation. “Could we take ourselves somewhere we’d never been before, yet achieve a feeling of comfort at the same time? How do we go to a new place that feels like home?”
Produced by the Foreman Brothers in collaboration with Neal Avron (whose previous work includes mixing albums by Aerosmith, Weezer, and Fitz & the Tantrums), Fading West was ultimately born on the road and in the waves. While touring in support of their 2011 album Vice Verses, the longtime surfers set out in search of songwriting inspiration by visiting several of their favorite surf breaks around the world. “The idea was to surf, write songs, play music, and see what ideas came,” explains Tim. Traveling to Jeffreys Bay and Crayfish Factory in South Africa, Bronte Beach in Australia, Raglan in New Zealand, and Uluwatu in Bali, the band threw themselves into a voyage both physical and emotional—an endeavor they chronicled in a documentary film also entitled Fading West—and soon found themselves infusing new energy, soul, and sound into their music.
Opening with the sunny and shimmering “Worth the Fight,” Fading West sees Switchfoot building off the melodic pop sensibility of their early years with bigger, bolder arrangements and heady electro effects. Soaked with soaring harmonies, the album offers up its share of heart-on-sleeve love songs, such as the guitar-powered “When We Come Alive” and the throbbing, groove-heavy “All or Nothing.” Changing gears on “Say It Like You Mean It,” Switchfoot delivers a dizzying assault that merges frenzied vocals, furious guitar, skittering beats, and world-weary lyrics (“Feels a lot like we’ve lost the goal/Lost our minds and lost the soul”)–then strips that all away to dreamy harmonies and hypnotic sitar. Then, on the stirring and slow-building “World You Want,” Fading West turns quietly intense and imparts a global message that’s cautionary but empowering (“Is this the world you want?/You're making it/Every day you're alive”).
At the heart of Fading West is a trilogy of songs that perfectly capture the soul-searching that initially inspired the album. On the sweeping, midtempo “Slipping Away,” the band turns melancholy in its tenderly poetic remembering of their younger years (“Remember coming home at four in the morning/Before the sun was up/Back when the east was a fire of gold/Just waiting for the rest of the sky to fall in love”). Next, on “BA55,” Switchfoot slides into a much darker soundscape marked by swirling distortion, majestically heavy bass, and—in the end—a sense of transcendence that’s entirely true to the song’s promise to “let my soul fly.” Finally, with the anthemic “Let It Out,” Fading West bursts open into a unabashedly joyful mood intensified by power-pop hooks, sparkling piano, handclap-driven beats, and the lyrical plea to “Breathe it in and let it out.”
For Switchfoot, the blissed-out peace that shines through songs like “Let It Out” stems largely from the band members’ redefining their relationship with home. “For a long time, home was a place of failure because it meant that we didn’t have any shows,” notes Jon. “When you drop out of college in your early ’20s and all your friends are getting jobs and you’re the guy who lives with his parents, it’s way better to be on the road. Only recently did I feel like home was a place where I could feel comfortable and content.”
Today, “home” still means the beaches of San Diego where the Foremans and Butler first connected as surfers and eventually formed the band that Jerome Fontamillas would join in September 2000, followed by Drew Shirley in 2005. Signed to re:Think Records after just 20 gigs, Switchfoot put out their debut album The Legend of Chin in 1997, signed to Columbia Records in time for their fourth album The Beautiful Letdown, and released two more albums with Sony (2005’s Nothing Is Sound and 2006’s Oh! Gravity) before going their separate ways with the company. Itching for creative freedom, Switchfoot financed the building of the studio where they recorded Hello Hurricane and Vice Verses, both of which they released on their own lowercase people records via Atlantic Records. In the midst of all that music-making and subsequent touring, in 2005 the band created the Bro-Am Foundation to benefit local children's charities that aid at-risk, homeless, and street kids in San Diego.
To form the closing segment of Fading West, Switchfoot chose two tracks that serve as love songs to the ocean: the playful yet sprawling “Salt Water,” and the huge-hearted epic “Back to the Beginning.” It’s a fitting finish to an album that was largely inspired by the sea, which Jon describes as a perfect metaphor for simultaneously experiencing reassurance and danger. “You’re comfortable out there, but it’s the unknown,” he says. “You can paddle out in South Africa and it’s exactly like home and nothing like home all at once. That’s what I’m hoping our record feels like—trying to find peace in dangerous places.”
KOPECKY FAMILY BAND
Sometimes song is thicker than blood.
First drawn together amid a college dorm ‘pass the guitar’ session in 2007, Kopecky Family Band co-founders Kelsey Kopecky and Gabe Simon quickly realized that they shared something beyond their alma mater.
“Gabe started playing and I was totally blown away,” Kopecky remembers, “by his melodies, his talent. Something in the way he played felt so familiar to me and moving. I asked him if he wanted to get together and play some, sing some. And a few days later we did that. And it was crazy, it came together immediately– it just fit.”
“I had just met her,” remembers Simon, “but when we sang together, it sounds corny, but it felt like we’d known each other forever. Old souls meeting again. We were finishing each others lyrics, just immediately connected in the music.”
This synergy propelled the duo forward and within months they had wrangled the rest of their sonic siblings – Steven Holmes on lead guitar, David Krohn on drums, Markus Midkiff on cello, and Cory Oxendine on bass - making them six in total. Within the year the burgeoning Family had released an EP, Embraces, and embarked on a nearly nonstop touring schedule, garnering fans around the country and developing both their sound… and their ties with one another.
“When we were originally trying to figure out a name,” says Simon “we felt that Kelsey’s last name had the right ring to it and we added the ‘family’ because that’s really what it feels like when we all play together.”
And that is what it sounds like, too.
The Kopecky Family Band are built on a foundation of intimately connected musical tones, warm and welcoming melodies, bright and epic symphonic layering - and vocal harmonies that recall all the greats – Gram and Emmylou, June and Johnny and onward and up…
You can hear the band’s hometown of Nashville in this music too, the rich history of place - but past is always brought gently into present. This is not country, not pop, not folk, not rock, but something much more complex - call it a Brave New Nashville. It is a music that contains all the comfort of home while simultaneously embracing a bright, energetic openness - a willingness to explore and expand.
Over the past few years there have been two more EPs from the band – The Disaster and Of Epic Proportions (both released in 2010) – as well as a split 7” with Seattle’s Ivan & Alyosha and revelatory performances at the Next Big Nashville and SXSW festivals. 2011 saw the Family on tour with artists including Devotchka and Gomez, and year-end accolades such as Paste naming them one of the ‘25 Best Live Acts’ and ‘20 Best New Bands’ of the year. And after last year’s exhaustive co-headlining tour with The Lumineers, and performances at Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits festival, the band finally got off the bus and into the studio, settling down for their first full-length.
The result, Kids Raising Kids, is a collection of tracks that reveal a band fully formed. This is sing-along, clap-your-hands, stomp-your-feet music. But it is also deep music, rife with emotion and layers of feeling – from melancholy to elation and back again.
“With this new record,” explains Kopecky, “we tried really hard to be in our bodies, to be responding to the music not only with our heads and hearts, but in a visceral way too. We wanted it to be honest and emotional and true.”
As a result, songs like “The Glow” soar and sweep, while tracks like “Change” keep it quiet and fragile. “She’s the One” rides a dark, propulsive beat while “Waves” is shimmering and blindingly bright and “Heartbeat” is playful, sing-along pop. The record is a study of opposites, yet the refreshingly distinctive, unified sound these six musicians make together bleeds through each and every song. The album holds the cohesiveness and the complexity that belie true family bonds.
“We didn’t want to be afraid to explore,” says Simon, of Kids Raising Kids, “we wanted to go deep into different sounds, textures, genres – whatever fit the song and the story we were telling. If there’s a thread that runs through this record it’s the idea of ‘kids raising kids’, of each of us in the band really raising each other these last few years, and of everything that comes with that, the frustration and the fun and the good times and the bad times too. You come out the other side and you hope you’ve helped each other grow.”
- Wednesday, February 26, 2014 8:00 PM