Earlier this month The Copyrights released their fifth full-length, North Sentinel Island. The band formed in Carbondale, Illinois in 2002 and through the years has progressively perfected their signature take on classic, mid-‘90s pop punk. North Sentinel Island finds the group further experimenting with different sounds to create what is arguably their most comprehensive album yet. We spoke with singer/bassist Adam Fletcher about the new record, its recording process, their extensive touring plans this fall and more.
Bill – Explain the meaning behind your new album’s title.
Adam – Well, that was actually a title that our drummer Luke came up with a while ago. At first I kind of thought it was a little pretentious, but then he sort of became obsessed with North Sentinel Island and was super into it. We incorporated some of the samples and things into the record, and it kind of made sense and came together with the theme of a lot of the songs. There are plenty of songs that are about travel and alienation and things like that. It was Luke’s idea and it worked pretty well.
Bill – In the past you guys have released records on a fairly frequent basis. Why do you think it took three years between albums this time around?
Adam – Right, well we recorded the record almost two years ago. It took us about a year to release it too. So, it took a while to get released and then I ended up moving from Chicago back down to Carbondale with my girlfriend. We bought a house and stuff. Once we had the record done and everything it took a few months for it to come out. All those factors combine and time kind of slipped away from us for a little bit. But in the meantime, we also released a bunch of seven-inches and that Methadones split. So, we did enough stuff to actually release an album’s worth of material, they just came out on different formats.
Bill – Compared to your previous records, North Sentinel Island is a bit more melodic and not as fast-paced. What are some of the reasons for this?
Adam – One of the reasons for that was because with this record we were really into the idea of not having time be an issue in the studio. That allowed us, especially me when it came to doing vocals, to really take time in the studio and do a lot of harmonies and things like that. We definitely did more stuff than we used. We did a bunch of harmonies and things all over the record and then we chopped it up and if it was too excessive we got rid of it, or we did this or that. I would say tempo-wise, that’s just what came out. We had a couple faster songs when we were demoing the record and they just seemed out of place. It seemed to make sense to do the whole record kind of around the same tempo and I think it works fine.
Bill – What did you hope to achieve by recording at Atlas Studios with Matt Allison and would you say that those goals were met?
Adam – Yeah, I would. I’ve said this in other interviews, but we’re always kind of under the gun when we go in the studio, like all of our records have been done in about five days. So, we wanted to make a record where we could spend enough time to do it right. Little things, like spending a really long time recording guitars was important. Brett recorded guitars for a week straight this time, which is how long it usually takes us to do a whole record. Just paying attention to every little detail, and that’s exactly what we did. I think it shows and I think production-wise it came out sounding really good.
Bill – The second song, “Crutches”, is one of the catchiest tracks on the album, but lyrically one of the darkest. What’s behind the words for this song?
Adam – We’re all a little bit older now. I don’t know, I guess maybe you go on tour or you go out and get drunk and make an ass out of yourself sometimes. And then you get a little bit older and after the hangover you realize that maybe you’re an idiot, (laughs). Maybe you’re making some mistakes, I don’t know.
Bill – “Worn Out Passport” talks about wanting to travel internationally and a desire to see new places. What inspired this song?
Adam – Just being able to be in band, like Luke and I are from a really, really small town of 3,000 people. Even the larger city where we’re from, Carbondale, is a really small college town. There’s no bands or anybody that’s really ever came from there that’s done a lot. Just the ability for us to be able to be in Rome, playing a show, and there’s people there that know the lyrics. The fact that you can use your crappy band to travel around the world is pretty incredible for us. So, the whole theme of traveling and stuff is crazy when you’re in the middle of it and you’re like, “Holy shit. I’m all the way here, across the world, because we’re going to play some crappy songs that we wrote”. It’s fuckin’ crazy, it’s a weird thing. Like I said, there’s kind of a travel theme to the record because in the past two years we’ve traveled around the world and we never thought we’d be capable of doing anything like that, ever.
Bill – Most people would describe The Copyrights as a pop punk band, and while that makes sense, you guys also use a lot of unique song structures and chord progressions. Where do these subtle changes come from or do they just happen on their own?
Adam – More or less now they just kind of happen. We all are into different types of music, not just pop punk, and that probably helps with our ability to feel like we can do something a little bit outside the box of the three chord thing. We still are within that box and we don’t get too far away from the straight-ahead punk rock structure. Around Mutiny Pop, our second record, we wanted to do something different. We didn’t want to sound like all the Ramones clones, pop punk bands. We just wanted to carve out our own little niche of doing things. We try different stuff that other bands don’t do and we’ve been doing it I guess for years at this point. Now it’s like our own niche.
Bill – This is your third full-length for Red Scare. What do you like best about your band’s relationship with the label?
Adam – Toby, (label owner Tobias Jeg) is a good friend of ours. He actually wanted to put out the Mutiny Pop record, that’s how far we go back with him. He’s a friend and that’s really the good thing, working with somebody who you’re friends first with. He’s done a lot of good stuff for us throughout the years. Even lately it seems like he’s signing a lot of bands that have been doing pretty well. The Menzingers signed to Epitaph and Cobra Skulls signed with Fat. He does a good job running the label and he’s a good friend, so it’s great working with him.
Bill – Talk a little more about The Copyrights’ hometown of Carbondale and some of your first shows at the infamous Lost Cross House.
Adam – First show at the Cross House, (laughs). My first show that I went to was in like ’91 or ’92, somewhere around there. It was Fugazi and Brainiac at the University ballroom on campus, which was pretty great. I was really young and it was the first concert I ever saw actually. I think the Lost Cross was more around when I was 15. Luke and I had a band in high school and we played a show with Scared of Chaka. That was the first show we ever played there. I remember when we were done playing we came outside and the sun was coming up. I think we had to go to school the next day if I remember right. It was really fucked up and we only got paid $1. That was our first Lost Cross experience. I go there sometimes, I don’t go there as often anymore, but it’s still going strong. Actually in mid-October, I think October 21st, we’re going to be playing the Lost Cross 25th Anniversary show.
Bill – Tell me about your recent CD release shows in Chicago.
Adam – Yeah, they were great and they turned out really fun. The opening bands were really cool. They don’t do that many shows at Underground Lounge, so Toby has kind of been trying to book some shows there. It’s a cool little place that only holds 100 or so people. Each night was sold-out and it was really fun. It was pretty awesome to be able to do two nights in the same room, not have to move any equipment or anything and just be lazy.
Bill – What are you looking forward to most regarding your upcoming West Coast tour in September?
Adam – Just going back out there. We haven’t been out there in years, so it’s just going to be a nice little vacation for us. We’re flying out and we’re going to tour up the coast and then fly back. We’re really excited, also excited for Awesome Fest, it’s going to be rad.
Bill – After that tour you’re headed to the East Coast, with Strike Anywhere and A Wilhelm Scream. What do you think will be most fun in terms of touring with those bands?
Adam – That’s going to be awesome. Strike Anywhere has been sending us messages, kind of back and forth, for a couple years now. Those guys seemed to be into us and wanted to do some shows together, and it finally just kind of panned out that we could do some stuff together. That’s going to be great because we’re playing some smaller venues with those guys and it’s kind of cool to be able to tour with a band that size. It’ll be a different crowd, uncharted territory for us and a different audience for sure.
Bill – In October you guys are scheduled to play both Riot Fest and The Fest. You mentioned Awesome Fest before too, but what are some of the advantages of playing bigger shows like that?
Adam – We just did Insubordination Fest and festivals are great because you have a concentrated audience and the majority of people that like you within the area are going to be there. The shows are normally really awesome, it’s a shitload of your friends who are in other bands and you can hang out all in the same place for the weekend. It’s a no-brainer. You get to hang out with your friends, drink beer and have a good time. Festivals are also good for the bands that you never got to see, whether they’re reuniting or just playing a one-off show. Not only do I get to play, but I get to see a bunch of kickass bands too. We love it.
Bill – Beyond all the touring you have scheduled this fall, what else do The Copyrights have planned for the future?
Adam – After touring this fall we’re going to Europe next May, and the LP version of North Sentinel Island is coming out on It’s Alive Records on September 1st. It’s Alive is also doing a double-LP collection of all our seven-inches, coming out hopefully by the end of the year. We also have a couple songs on a split with Grey Area that’s coming out at some point. After that I’m not sure, but that’s a lot for now.