Adam, Luke and BrettRed Scare Industries
By Tom Liveyns on March 18th, 2016 at Dordrecht, The Netherlands
After almost 15 years of being on the road, we probably should start calling the Copyrights pop punk veterans. Without a big label behind them – although Red Scare is a quality mark in it’s own – they’ve only put out good records. The latest full length Report (2014) is amongst the best things pop punk has to offer, so there’s more than enough we could talk about.
I was running late so we had to do the interview after the show. In between getting paid and loading in the van Adam, Luke and Brett were kind enough to take plenty of time for a talk. So if you’re wondering why everybody chips in at a different time, that one’s on me. And if you’re wondering which are cooler: pirates or ninjas, you’ll have to keep reading.
ThePunkSite: Let’s start with a The Copyrights crash course. What’s everybody’s task in the band, next to playing your instruments of course.
Adam: Luke, our drummer, is the main songwriter, he comes up with the majority of our songs and material. Kevin who plays guitar is basically the full time merch guy. He screenprints t-shirts for a living, so he’s a great guy to have in your band.
I handle the corresponding band management stuff, responding to emails, booking stuff. And Brett just hangs out… He sleeps all the time (laughs). No, he’s actually working right now, I can’t speak bad about him.
Everybody’s working, right?
Yes. Well, you have to.
How the tour going, any memorable moments on this stretch of shows so far?
Adam: The tour’s great. It’s really short. We flew over for Crossbonefest and then we had one week where we could book shows. Usually we do about a month when we come to Europe so this is more like a vacation.
Crossbonefest looks like a good show.
Crossbonefest is gonna be really fun. I can’t wait to see so many of those bands, also all of our friends from Europe are going to be on one place at the same. It’s gonna be a crazy party.
Your first release We Didn’t Come Here To Die was in 2003, we’re now thirteen years and countless years of touring later. What kind of advice would you give to yourselves back then?
Adam: Well I don’t know, that’s hard. We toured as much as we could, and I think it payed off. I mean, it got us here.
Brett (as he walks in): Don’t drink so much. Drink more water.
Finding angles for interviews can be challenging. So I’ve decided to let your songs do the work for the next few questions: Can you tell us about your favourite black holes? Are there any less obvious places in this world you’ve been to that have really amazed you?
Brett: Rochester, New York.
Adam: Yeah, all the time. Small shows like Rochester or Carbondale where we’re from, it’s still a black hole. The best shows are often in smaller cities where they don’t get bands all the time.
Brett: Also the small town shows in Belgium have always been the best. They’ve always been so much fun.
How do you experience getting older in punk rock. Does that sometimes intervene with life and responsibilities?
Adam: All the time. You feel that when you’re 34 it gets a little tiring sometimes being away from home. After a while I think that we wanted to be home more. But also when you go out on tour for a long time, missing your home and wife and cats and dogs is important too. It makes you not take it for granted so much.
Have the crowds changed as well?
Adam: The style of punk rock that we play is not something that I see as being popular with teenagers or high school kids anymore. It seems like it’s a thing that people of my age, in their 30’s or 20’s, are still into it from whenever they were into it in the 90’s. I think the whole music scene in general has gotten older. That’s kind of interesting, it makes shows a lot more tame. And I’m ok with that, cause I don’t slam dance or push people around either.
Are you still proud cashiers or have you become something yet?
Adam: Yes and no. Currently none of us are cashiers, janitors or delivery boys. But that’s not to say we’re above that line of work. And I’m sure we all do it a little bit at our job. Clean up someone else’s mess.
So we know you kind of liked green day in 1994. Are there any bands you’re into today that might surprise people?
Adam: Oh I’m sure. We like all kinds of hiphop and all kinds of ambient soundscapes. Me and Luke really like a lot of hip hop stuff, whether that’s Kendrick Lamar or Wu-Tang Clan or Geto Boys or whatever.
Also new Wu-Tang Clan?
Adam: All of it. All the mixtapes, everybody’s entire albums. Everybody puts out new stuff all the time, you can always find a new Ghostface Killah mixtape or a Reakwon mixtape. It keeps you interested, there’s always something new. Mixtapes are kind of disposable though, you kind of use it once and throw it away, there’s always a new one coming out. It’s a cheap way of making something new all time.
But I mean, we like all genres of music. I listen to reggae a lot, Luke’s into singer songwriter acoustic stuff. After being in a punk rock band for so long, there’s only so many punk rock bands you can listen to before it starts to sounds the same. Definitely if you tour and see two or three bands every night, when you get in the van you want something that’s a little different on the ears and the mind.
Are you really button smashers? What games would you recommend?
Adam: We do play videogames a little. But most of them are old games. We’re not up to date on the latest shit. That new Mortal Kombat is pretty rad.
Luke (walks in after packing the drum set): I’m into the Far Cry games. I played Grand Theft Auto V way too much.
Adam: I have a lot of old video game roms on my laptop and a couple of arcade machines at my house. Pac Man and Mortal Kombat 2. That’s a classic.
And to round off these questions based on your songs: You’d have to get a Copyrights lyric tattoo. What you get?
Adam: I guess either Shit’s fucked or Kill the Captains.
Luke: That’s a tough one, I think a heart always looks good. So maybe Heart wants what the heart can’t have.
Pick three Copyrights songs you like but never play.
Luke: Maybe Well-Fed and Warm, oh and On The Way and Basement of the new album.
Adam: I like Fireworks, Scars and Out of Ideas. Or Restless Head. That’s a good one.
Report was received very well. To me it also feels like the album that ties it all together, the Sentinel Island vibe, the fruity pop punk vibe of Make Sound and the slightly more raw sound of Learn The Hard Way or Mutiny Pop. How do you feel about that description?
Adam: I agree with that; it’s got a little bit of everything in there.
Is it the kind of album you want to make in the future?
Adam: I don’t know. I think it sounds great, we worked really hard on it. We’re happy with the way the final product came out. I would definitely want to make an album that sounds just as good as that for sure.
Luke: The songs on the next record are going to be faster. Maybe slightly rawer as well, Learn The Hard Way’ish.
Is there any work done for the follow up album?
Luke: Yeah, I’ve got a few songs and a few chorusses written. But it’ll be a while. Maybe we’ll do a 7″ or something in the meanwhile.
For a band called The Copyrights, how do you feel about people not buying music. You formed at more or less the height of Napster, Kazaa and MP3 file sharing. Some bands see it as a natural progression. What’s your take on it.
Adam: I mean, I listen to bands on Spotify too so I can’t blame anybody for not buying our albums. Without being able to get our music to people like you in Europe we wouldn’t be here. So I’m really grateful for that existing. I do see the other side of that because bands don’t make as much selling records obviously but there’s nothing you can do. You have to adapt. I don’t think there’s any other choice.
Do you have to work harder because of it?
Adam: In some ways, but in other ways people get to hear you all over the world. So then you’re capable of getting out and touring more.
Luke: Tons more people have heard the songs. But we’re old enough to know that music music used to be worth a lot more than it is now. Not just our music but everybody’s. Even myself, I don’t know if I would buy cd’s for 18 dollars or whatever like I used to.
And do you feel there’s a big difference between streaming music and straight up pirating it?
Adam: Well, I do both sometimes. I don’t really pirate stuff anymore because it seems like it’s harder to do that now. But if I can’t find it… I mean I’m a music nerd, so there’s all kinds of music that I can’t find on iTunes that only exists in the piratebays of the world.
Luke: I’m too lazy to download anything. If I can’t stream it I don’t listen to it.
Adam: But I still buy records all the time. I don’t know why. It’s just what I do. I appreciate when you pull out a record and sit down and listen to it. That’s when you really sit down and listen to it.
Luke: Music now is more disposable. Even if I love an album, I don’t listen to it as much as when I would buy a tape or a cd back in the day. I would fucking listen to it hundreds of times, read the lyrics while it goes along. You don’t really do that anymore. That has changed so much since Spotify. The same goes for Netflix and movies. When you go to a movie store and rent a movie you’re gonna see it. On Netflix you’re going to give it 5 minutes.
Adam: Once you invest in buying or having something, you’re going to spend more time in trying to appreciate it and like it. I’m sure there’s plenty of shitty punk records that we all bought in the 90’s that we think of as classics. But if we heard them today we wouldn’t make it pass the second song.
Are there any more Fat Wreck plans after the 2014 No Knocks EP.
Adam: No, we don’t have any plans with them. At the time we were getting ready to put out the album Report and Toby form Red Scare just pitched the idea to Fat Wreck Chords and they said yeah. It happened really quick, we put some artwork together and put it out. That’s our relationship with Fat at this point. I mean, we’re friends with all the people that work there, and tons of the bands that are on that record label. They’re all our close friends but we’re not necessarily a Fat Wreck Chords band.
I see a lot of bands coming of Red Scare and then spreading across labels. But Red Scare is a quality label in itself so it’s a good place to be.
Luke: Yeah, we didn’t even shop Report around at all. We just knew we were gonna do it on Red Scare. If we do another album we’ll probably just do it on Red Scare too.
Adam: That just depends on each band and what they want to do.
Luke: And the label. Though labels don’t matter so much anymore. There’s support I guess. But as far as distribution goes, anybody can get on Spotify or Bandcamp so anyone can hear anything they want. There can be differences in recording budgets.
Adam: Yeah, and maybe a couple of employees here and there to answer the phone.
At Red Scare it’s just Toby?
Adam: It’s just Toby’s phone.
Luke: They run a skeleton crew.
Are there any plans for Dear Landlord?
Adam: No, there aren’t any. It’s been a few years since we even played. Brad the drummer got a job working on movie sets, he’s travelling around and he likes that a lot. Zach’s in Minneapolis doing his thing and me and Brett are doing Copyrights stuff and that keeps us busy. We just started doing other things and we didn’t made any plans to do anything.
A big festival stage or tiny bar?
Luke: Tiny bar.
Adam: A tiny bar is always best. But I enjoy to be able to do both.
Donuts or bagels?
A headline show or a line up with lots of punk rock bands?
Adam: Ahhhh. Direct support band for the headliner, that’s were we’re at. 30 minutes, get us out there, fucking bang ‘em out and then we’re done and get to chill out for the rest of the night .
Luke: I like playing small bars and headlining those.
Pirates or ninjas?
Adam: Ninjas are sick.
Luke: Yeah. We’re kids of the 80’s.
The Lawrence Arms or The Falcon?
Adam, Luke & Brett (simultaneously): Lawrence Arms
I have to agree. The last one in this series: Star Wars or Jurassic Park?
Luke: Jurassic Park.
Adam: I was probably more of a Star Wars guy I guess. But I don’t have an allegiance to either one.
Luke: Yeah, I don’t like either one.
You want to pick a different franchise?
Luke: Karate Kid or Road House.
We’re in Holland now but I’m from Belgium. We often make jokes about the Dutch – in a friendly way – because they’re our neighbours. The site I write for, ThePunkSite.com, is a Canadian site. So maybe do you have any fun stories to share about Canada because they’re your ‘neighbours’?
Luke: One of our very first tours was in Eastern Canada. Our friend Cory hooked us up, we got to stay in a cabin on the beach. We thought we were living the dream at that point. All the Canadians we know are the nicest people on earth.
Adam: I know, yeah, they’re really nice.
Brett: They say “Sorry” all the time.
Luke: We just played with The Penske File in Germany, they’re from Canada.
Adam: They’re touring with us in Canada in May. We’re playing Pouzza Fest in Montreal which is really gonna be awesome. But no, I don’t have anything specific about Canada, they’ve got a good thing going on there. If there’s any Canadians reading this, we love you. Canada’s always been very good to us. We’re excited to go back there.
The Copyrights will be touring the West Coast in May.