Control Freak" has such a nasty connotation. It immediately evokes images of the high-powered, pinstriped corporate shark, ruminating over every detail as he plans the exploitation of pandas, koalas or indigenous peoples. When refering to something as benign as pop music, perhaps "control enthusiast" is more appropriate.
Whatever the nomenclature or connotation, this is the tack that Aaron Marsh took as he was writing Copeland's latest album Eat, Sleep, Repeat.
"As far as it is concerned, my band members probably would call me a control freak when it comes to the writing process and recording and all that," laughs Marsh. "It's a good thing for me but maybe bad for them."
It's the control freak attitude that helped Copeland release their best album yet. Eat, Sleep, Repeat features the soft piano rock that fans have come to love, but couples it with an overall sense of maturity not present in previous releases. "We tried to keep an experimental mindset when we were recording," says Marsh. "We definitely felt a lot more free to experiment because we weren't writing a record that was going to be on the radio--we were planning on it coming out on a small label. We had complete freedom to make the record that we've always wanted to make."
Despite Copeland's greater artistic control, Eat, Sleep, Repeat sparked some major label interest early on, eventually finding a home on Columbia. That isn't to say that Copeland signed the deal with starry eyes, thinking their dreams of rock-stardom would come true. In fact, the band was skeptical from the beginning.
"We've always been kind of hesitant about major labels," said Marsh. "We've had so many friends who have been screwed and overlooked in the major label scene."
The move to Columbia was a logical stepping stone for the group. It means bigger tours, bigger budgets for videos, recordings and the ability to spread their music to a much larger audience.
"It was just the right move because the people that were involved were so passionate about the band and all the chips just fell in the right place," said Marsh. "The right people got into the music to make it a good move. I feel confident with the people who we're working with now."
For Copeland, the luxuries of being on a major label feel even better rightfully earned . Unlike some bands that get signed right out of high school and enjoy immense, if fleeting, fame, Copeland have experienced their fair share of trials.
"It was super hard to get it together and get it going," says Marsh. "I was working a full-time job, taking classes at a community college, trying to write songs and trying to book tours for the band."
In the end, it was the friendships and support that helped the band to accomplish what they have. Without that, they would still be playing basement shows.
"Half of the people that have helped us along the way would not have been eager to help us if it weren't for friendship," says Marsh. "It all goes back to how you treat others and how you present yourself to those around you. You'll never get anywhere on your own."