Stephie Coplan and the Pedestrians Kick Ass
With overused comparisons to Ben Folds and after catching the attention of Fountains of Wayne, Stephie Coplan and the Pedestrians are quickly establishing themselves as a band on the rise. They have played for delighted audiences in New York and New Jersey and recently performed at Toad and Precinct in a small Boston-area road trip. Stephie Coplan is no stranger to those venues. She only recently moved to the New York area after honing her skills performing solo in clubs like the Lizard Lounge. I had a chance to both watch the band and interview them on their recent trip through Cambridge and Somerville.
Stephie Coplan (Website, Facebook, twitter, MySpace, YouTube, Google+, ReverbNation, SonicBids) and the Pedestrians opened for Jesse Dee at Toad. They roared through two sets of music with great energy and playfulness. Stephie’s songwriting and performing is at the core of the band. The sets are grounded in up-tempo songs with ironic, direct and frequently funny lyrics. Stephie’s solo experience comes into play as well — she is very comfortable in front of the audience stops to crack jokes from time to time. After singing the following line from Heartbroken in Hoboken
Is there any mercy / for single girls in Jersey / or should I give up and buy a cat?
She and the band suddenly stop playing. She addresses the audience. “Actually, I did get a cat recently, but I didn’t pay for it, so it doesn’t count.” Then they plunge right into the rest of the song, sounding tight and comfortable. It is hard to miss the infectious energy and fun that’s happening between Stephie and the audience, or between bassist John F. Hebert (Website, Facebook) and drummer Shane Considine (Website, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) behind her.
Any they’ve been getting noticed too. They are playing out quite frequently in New Jersey and New York and working on a new album as well. They’ve been covered recently in the Boston Music Spotlight,interviewed by The Deli
and also appeared on Stephen Bailey’s website. But lest you think that it’s all snark and no substance, Time To Go will convince you otherwise. It’s such a sweet, lamenting song full of rich imagery.
Why was it me? / Why are our names set in stone?
Why are our footprints etched in all the places we used to go?
The diner’s closed / The waitress smiled / It’s time to go.
I was privileged to hear a few of the pre-mix songs that will be on the upcoming album, and I was impressed. Jerk really delivers, both in terms of it’s relentlessly upbeat composition and frank and biting lyrics
Could have been your eyes / could have been your smile / could have been your I don’t give a fuck style
This album is going to be released later this year and if what I’ve heard is any indication, it’s going to be great. I only heard three of the five songs (you’ll apparently get a sixth if you pre-order) and they show off Stephie’s songwriting versatility, going from the almost anthemic Jerk to the sweet melancholy of Time To Go. I can’t wait to hear the rest.
The buzz around Cambridge was strong, with a huge turn-out at both Toad and Precinct. Of course, it helps to be opening for acts such as Jesse Dee and the Sea Monsters, but these audiences turned out early to hear Stephie play. What’s more, Stephie and the band remarked on how attentive the audiences here are. “We were really flattered that we had the same crowd ‘personality’ at both Toad and Precinct,” Stephie says, “they quieted down for our quieter songs and jumped right in when we asked them to participate. They were great listeners.”
Listening to Stephie’s unique and quirky humorous comments was part of the experience, too. When Shane Considine accidentally backed up into the light switch and turned on the spotlights at Toad, Stephie’s reaction was immediate. “He’s always doing this. Try not to steal the show with your ass, Shane. It’s Stephie Coplan and the Pedestrians, not Stephie Coplan, Shane’s ass and John.” Then later, during Man on a Milk Carton, they broke into a chorus of Dynamite, by Taio Cruz. At Toad, they played two full sets.
|Set 1||Set 1|
|Right All Along
Heartbroken in Hoboken
Make You Mine
Take Me Back To The Suburbs
Time To Go
We’re Happy That You’re Here
Man On A Milk Carton
Someone To Love
|Mr. Rogers Theme
We Don’t Need Much
I’m Not Your Girlfriend
Did You Mean It?
Take Me Back To The Suburbs (techno version)
I have been following Stephie for few years now, and I was fortunate to hang out with Stephie, John and Shane on Sunday afternoon, before the show at Precinct, to talk about music.
Dave’s Photo Blog: Shane, let me start with you. You are in another band that’s very different band – Electric Black Horse.
Shane Considine: Yeah, there’s a couple different ones for sure.
Dave’s Photo Blog: I’ve listened to it – there’s never a dull moment for a drummer in that band. Do you find yourself with more creative space playing behind Stephie?
Shane Considine: Yeah, it’s pretty intense. I mean, I like to hit hard and being in that band is like going 80 miles an hour. My thing is always trying to make simple sound good and to do that definitely takes some thought because I want to do something that’s going to complement Stephie’s music but still drive it. There’s definitely a lot of creative room because luckily she doesn’t have an ego and she’s pretty open about letting us do what we want. She tries to give us free reign in what we do. It’s huge, because I’ve worked with others before and it’s like, “this is what it’s gotta sound like.” It’s really stressful when you’re playing like that. (laughs)
Stephie Coplan: Their ideas are usually so good that there’s no need for me to be like, “no, no, it needs to sound like this,” because they intuitively know how the song should sound. There’s no issue where, like, I hear it in my head one way and they’re playing a different thing that I have to adjust to. I am amazed that every time I bring a song to them, they play it the way I heard it in my head. It’s unbelievable.
Shane Considine: It just worked out – playing together – everyone can just read where it’s going to go.
Dave’s Photo Blog: Were you and John literally the first drummer and bass player she found?
Shane Considine: No, there were, um, I don’t know how many other guys there were before. How many were there?
Stephie Coplan: There actually weren’t that many. John has been my only bass player, actually. I had a session player play on one gig but he wasn’t officially in the band. I hired him to play one gig with me. So John’s the first. We had another drummer – we played one gig with him, but it just didn’t work out.
Shane Considine: And then I saw the online ad.
John F. Hebert: Yeah, this is actually the first band I’ve ever been in. Before this, I had joined this cover band, because I just picked up the bass a couple of years ago, you know, for real.
Dave’s Photo Blog: You’ve got some serious chops.
Stephie Coplan: He sounds like he’s been playing forever.
John F. Hebert: Yeah, when I was 13 my brother had a guitar and he told me, “you need to play the bass.” So they got me a bass and I fiddled around with it for a little while. I went into musical theater and I did Broadway shows and national tours for about eight years in New York City, but then I got tired of that and picked up a bass. So about a year after I did that I got into this cover band and it didn’t work out and I thought that would be that. But here I am.
Dave’s Photo Blog: Have you had any conflicts yet where you’ve had gigs with different bands on the same day?
Stephie Coplan: (laughs)
Shane Considine: I did a double night once and that was really stressful. I played with Stephie at 9:30 in Hoboken at Maxwell’s and then had to be in the lower east side by 11. I don’t know how I made that happen, but it somehow worked. But for the most part, no, not really because I try and put Stephie first. The others are side projects. Living in New York, you know, it costs you $20 just to open your eyes in the morning so you have to sometimes do other stuff to make ends meet.
Dave’s Photo Blog: So you must have been very compelled by the stuff you saw when you first looked at her ad
John F. Hebert: Yeah, well when I heard it, I thought, “Billy Joel.” I love Billy Joel because I grew up with his music, so I was like, “oh, yeah, totally.” And I listened to her song “Time To Go” and some of the other stuff and I thought, “yeah, this is great.” So that’s what compelled me first. And then just being in a band, because I was like, “I want to be in a band.”
Stephie Coplan: And you liked “Make You Mine.”
John F. Hebert: That’s right, “Make You Mine” and “Time To Go” were the first ones. They’re very ethereal and I like that. I like to play a melodic bass line. If there’s no guitar player, I can make up for that by being more melodic with my bass lines. That’s cool, I want to do that.
Shane Considine: She had a lot together, too, when I first looked at the ad. She had a lot of YouTube videos together that sounded clear and she’s always promoting herself and I think that’s huge. If I’m going to get into something — first you have to like the music, then after you have to like the band — but I thought the sound was great and she had done a lot just on her own. It’s not that I wouldn’t join anything at the start, but there’s gotta be something there.
John F. Hebert: It’s funny, I wanted to be in something from the start. My brother told me — he was a musician in the Marine Corps playing jazz guitar — and he told me, “John, if you have the choice between doing residuals or just getting paid a couple of bucks, do the residuals.” You know, that mindset — investing in something — because maybe right now it’s going to suck but later you’ll be really happy.
Dave’s Photo Blog: It’s kind of the best of both worlds because not only is it the start of something but she’s got two sets of material right from the get go.
Shane Considine: We had a 45 minute set that we usually do, and then Stephie said that we had to play a two hour set at Toad, so we brought out the back catalog of songs.
Stephie Coplan: Yeah, and there are songs we didn’t play last night because they either don’t work with the band or because they’re so old. I mean the stuff that I played a year ago, by myself when I was a soloist, I don’t even play half of those any more, like the ones that were posted on YouTube.
Dave’s Photo Blog: No, because you’ve taken them down
Stephie Coplan: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So if we had to do a three hour set, we could do that, but I would say the third set would suck.
Dave’s Photo Blog: I don’t know about that.
Stephie Coplan: Well I don’t know if you’ve heard some of the real old stuff or not. Maybe you have, actually.
Dave’s Photo Blog: I was there for some of the real old stuff
Stephie Coplan: That’s right, you were at the Enormous Room. That was my second gig ever.
Dave’s Photo Blog: So is it different warming up for Stephie than Electric Black Horse?
Shane Considine: The most important thing with Stephie is timing. It’s definitely going to show if I’m rushing. So if I’m going to warm up, it’s basic things, like working on my hands and signals and stuff. You know, if you’re loose, then you’re not going to be tight and you’re not going to hit hard. I mean, that was a tough club to play in last night (Toad) – I was really pulling my punches in there.
John F. Hebert: I was hoping I was playing right considering I was plugged directly into the box. I just went to Victor Wooten‘s bass camp and he talked about that — leveling. And he said, “listen, there will be times when you won’t be able to hear yourself and you just have to trust and feel that groove.” So I was just looking at Shane the whole time. Luckily, we get along and play well together. So I just started playing. I go crazy on the bass sometimes, but Shane’s whole thing is, “make it sound good, simple.” When we recorded the album, that really came out. There was one time we were playing, I think it was the song “Caroline,” and I decided I was going to follow the bass drum and it was just locked. So just listening to the drums – that’s my warm up, I guess.
Shane Considine: I never really think about what to do to warm up for a gig. I guess it’s just relaxing.
Stephie Coplan: And getting a sea salt scrub.
John F. Hebert: Yeah, I hadn’t showered yesterday — couldn’t find a shower, so we went to Lush.
Stephie Coplan: John sweet talked every sales person, making them think he was going to buy something, so they would let him try out more stuff. Including a sea salt hand wash.
Dave’s Photo Blog: Whatever it takes. Now John, I have to ask the obvious question – what’s it like to be in the same career as someone with the same name who’s maybe a little more prominent.
John F. Hebert: I thought the same thing, but we’re completely different. Although he’s also from Louisiana. He’s from New Orleans and I’m from Lafayette, so that’s why I’m John F. Hebert – to distinguish between us. I thought I might change my last name. But I thought it was funny. And then Stephie went to go see him.
Stephie Coplan: I didn’t know he was going to be there. I went on a date last month with a jazz pianist and he wanted to go see Fred Hersch, who’s a great jazz pianist. And I was like, cool. So we get there and Fred Hersch introduces his band onstage and he says, “on bass we have John Hebert” and I thought, “wait, that’s who I have on bass!” And then I remembered that John had said there was a famous bass player named John Hebert and I was like, “you’ve got to be kidding me.” So I talked to him and I told him my bass player is named John Hebert too and he said, “no way.”
John F. Hebert: I grew up with around seven of them. Seven John Heberts. An old man, a young kid, me. There’s a lot of Heberts in Louisiana. So I just put in the F, call myself John F Hebert to distinguish myself. And then my background — that national tours and stuff — I hid all that to start over, so you can’t find it. Like my old tap dance audition videos.
Dave’s Photo Blog: So I assume you have a lot of flexibility too to write the bass parts. I mean, you know what key it’s in and what the chord changes are and you just work it out.
John F. Hebert: Yeah, this is what I like about Stephie too. The first producer we worked with, he was like, “no no, don’t even bring those bass lines to the recording studio,” and I was thinking, “you jerk.”
Stephie Coplan: Yeah, Shane didn’t know him, because this was before we found Shane. When I first moved here, I worked with this producer who was an ex-bigshot. He’s friends with other producers who have worked with Led Zeppelin — he runs in that crowd — greying producers. He wanted me to get a band together, so he and I auditioned a bunch of people, both bass players and drummers, and I heard John and I fell in love instantly and thought, “this is my guy.”
John F. Hebert: He told me I was too good.
Stephie Coplan: He said — both John and the first drummer we ended up kicking out — he thought they were both too good. He said to me, “you don’t want guys with chops, because chops will take you in any direction you want to go. They can play jazz, they can play funk, they can play Latin. You want guys who don’t know how to play anything except pop-rock because that’s going to keep you focused.” And I thought, no, if they have chops and they’re good then they’ll know how to play pop rock and they’ll do it really well.
Dave’s Photo Blog: That sounds straight out of Spinal Tap
Stephie Coplan: (laughs) Really.
Shane Considine: He was probably worried about guys who instead of being able to sit there and play a basic beat like that and not being comfortable doing that might try to overcompensate and play more.
Stephie Coplan: Right, right
John F. Hebert: As a matter of fact, that’s my favorite thing to do – keep it simple. When we’re doing “We Don’t Need Much” and I’m just going “da da daDUM da da,” I’m just feeling it, like, “YES!” It makes me want to scream. I’m so in there, in that pocket and it’s so simple. The guy just didn’t trust me, I guess. But that’s what I like about Stephie. She lets me do whatever I want.
Dave’s Photo Blog: Stephie, you have a reputation for writing snarky songs and using foul language on occasion. But actually, most of your songs are love songs, and the language and snark is the veneer that may pulls people in. Underneath it all, though, it’s a love song. Is that deliberate?
Stephie Coplan: That’s a very good way of putting it. It’s not deliberate – it’s just the way I write and think. I’m incapable of writing a song that doesn’t mean anything to me. I really admire songwriters who can just sit down and do that. I was taking to Fountains of Wayne about that – they’ll play a game where one of them will shout out a song title and they’ll build a whole song around a song title. And that to me is like writing a fiction novel. It’s something totally fabricated and I can’t do that. Every song I write is somehow good and truthful and represents something that’s happened to me personally. I think the foul language and the snarkyness comes in because I’m self aware to a fault sometimes. Not just in songwriting, but with life in general. I’m always worried about coming off as pretentious because I’m pretty sensitive to that when I spot it in other people and I’m very aware if I’m doing it. Sometimes when I hear people write love songs, I just roll my eyes and I think, “oh, come on.” Lots of people say one thing out loud, but in their head are thinking another. I try to write the things that I’m really thinking in my head. A song that could easily end up being an average love song then becomes something that still gets that sentiment across, but reveals what we’re all really thinking in a relateable way.
Dave’s Photo Blog: We had a conversation a long time ago in the Lizard Lounge when you said you really wanted to play a song, but the person you wrote it about was in the audience and would recognize that the song is about them. So after a few years more of experience, do you have any sage advice about what to do in that situation and have you come across that situation again?
Stephie Coplan: No, I haven’t, and – oh, I do remember that evening. Well, it depends on what kind of song it is. The difference is that now I’m at the point where I have a pretty big repertoire. At that point when we had that conversation, I think I had only written a couple of songs that I was comfortable enough and proud enough to play, especially in the Lizard Lounge where it’s an open mic competition and so you’re putting forth your best material. But now I have a much wider collection of songs. I don’t think I would deliberately play a song that would spark any drama. But at the same time, art is art and if the person happens to be in the room and they can’t handle it, then what are they going to do if it blows up on the radio? All those break-up songs on the radio, they’re all about someone. There is someone out there who that song is about and every time they hear it they have to sit there knowing that it’s about them. Take Maroon 5. I’ve read an interview with them and there is some girl named Jane out there that Adam Levine used to date, which is why their first album is called “Songs About Jane.” She has to hear all those break up songs all the time. That’s a risk you take dating a songwriter. You just have to know that it might backfire one day. So I would say it’s a compromise on both ends, I mean, don’t play a song deliberately to be an asshole, but at the same time, don’t date a songwriter if you can’t take the heat.
Dave’s Photo Blog: So in the video for “Heartbroken in Hoboken” there’s a little phrase that pops on the screen that says, “I can’t act.” But actually a lot of your arrangements come from a very dramatic place. Do you deliberately think about how a song plays out in terms of its tempo and effect and staging?
Stephie Coplan: Yeah, well that comes from being a soloist for so long. I think if I had started out playing with a band my dynamics wouldn’t be such a big part about how I think about songs. But I played for over a year — a year and a half, almost — by myself. I’m a huge admirer of Ben Folds because, live, he packs as much of a punch solo as he does with a band. I am nowhere near that good but I try to be. I try to fill out my arrangements enough where if I am forced to play solo it’s just as compelling, because otherwise you lose people. We’ve all seen soloists that put us to sleep and the people I think that are really good are able to keep it interesting. It’s funny, actually, because once I started playing with a band, one piece of advice that the jerky producer gave to me, which was good advice, was I had to learn to take out a lot of the dynamics. I don’t know if it’s apparent or not, but I used to have a lot of stops; places where the music would stop and I would take a breath, or I would sigh and start again or it would get really quiet. And now when I write, I have to think about keeping the room dancing. You don’t want to stop the beat if the people are really into it. I try to keep the song going.
Dave’s Photo Blog: I’ve seen a bunch of the songs you’ve put up on YouTube and then taken down, some of which were ex-relationship songs, and some of which were very, very good. Some seem clearly cathartic. Is that a way that you work through things?
Stephie Coplan: So the correct answer that I am supposed to say is, “yes, it’s very cathartic.” I almost don’t want to admit this, but the truth is that it’s cathartic playing my songs in front of an audience, but the actual writing process is purely mental masturbation. It really is. For me, it is. It feels good. It’s the same way that finishing a crossword puzzle or suduko feels good, or Scrabble. It just feels good to use my brain that way. I get this enormous sense of relief and satisfaction when I fill in the last line of a crossword puzzle and I’m like, “mmmmm. NAILED it.” Or I get 50 points on a Scrabble turn. It’s the same thing when I write a song. Even if the song is about something very personal and painful, in the moment that I write it, I’m actually not processing the emotions that I felt. I’m purely thinking about vocabulary and prosody. Prosody is a new word I learned which means the stress of certain syllables on certain notes so that when you are singing a line it falls in the right way so that the word doesn’t sound weird. So I’m thinking about that a lot and I’m thinking about the dynamics of the song. And only when it’s done and then I play it in its complete form in front of people — then the emotions return to it. But when I’m writing it, it’s a very detached, almost scientific process.
Dave’s Photo Blog: Have you done any songwriting with Shane and John yet?
Stephie Coplan: No. I want to. Shane, I know, has some good ideas for drum beats but I haven’t recorded him yet. But I would love that, because I feel like a lot of my songs end up being in the same tempo.
Shane Considine: She’s got that Coplan swing
Stephie Coplan: (laughs) yes, the Coplan swing. (hums) “da da da da DUMdaDUM da da da.” That comes up again and again. So it would actually be really great to get some inspiration. But these guys — I don’t think either of them call themselves aspiring songwriters. I don’t think that’s what they’re really about. It’s one thing to have a hand in how the song sounds, but I don’t think either of them are secretly resentful that I’m not asking for ideas, like, “what should my next song be about.”
Shane Considine: I like when she just writes them and sends them to us. That way we can listen to it and get the form down. Otherwise we’ll just go to rehearsal and she plays it and we sit in with it.
John F. Hebert: I consider myself a songwriter, but a bass line songwriter. I like writing bass lines. You give me a skeleton with nothing on it it. I might change — and I think I did, actually, with a few of my bass lines — change the feel of the song. You know, before it was a different thing and then I add a bass line to it, and it changes the feel and it’s no longer what it was. So I consider myself a songwriter. But not like a lyrical songwriter.
Stephie Coplan: But not a singer songwriter. That’s why it works well — there’s really no ego. I do what I’m supposed to do and they do what they’re supposed to do and none of us really feel slighted ever, like, “Why don’t I get to do this?”
Dave’s Photo Blog: There’s guitar in some of the tracks you sent me, so you must have had someone sit in with you.
Stephie Coplan: That was our producer, Ben. We’re currently debating if we should do backing tracks for our live shows. Once the album is done, we’ll have, on our laptops, just the overdubs, the guitar and background vocals and synths and stuff going, but we’ll play all the other stuff. That’s one option to make us sound as close to the album as possible. The other option is to do what we do, which is do a piano trio show and just make it as good as the album, but just different. It’s two different experiences and we’re going to play around with both and see what works.
Dave’s Photo Blog: But you don’t want to add another person.
Stephie Coplan: No, I don’t think we’re ever going to add another permanent official person, and Shane is very adamant about no guitars.
Shane Considine: I was pushing for no guitars because that’s what I think is one of the unique things about the band. No guitars.
Stephie Coplan: I don’t think we need them.
Dave’s Photo Blog: And actually, John, you were filling in quite a bit for the guitar.
Shane Considine: He does a lot.
John F. Hebert: It helps me work on my chops.
Dave’s Photo Blog: You kicked up the distortion.
Shane Considine: He’s got a fuzz pedal that he used last night.
John F. Hebert: I had it on a few times, but turned it off when it was screwing with her voice.
Stephie Coplan: With the vocals, yeah, but usually we do it for every show, as most of the songs have the fuzz pedal.
John F. Hebert: Yeah, I like that. I get to be both. A bassist and guitarist.
Dave’s Photo Blog: So do you ever get stuck where you just can’t make the rhyme that’s perfect?
Stephie Coplan: That’s never happened. What are you talking about? (laughs) Does that happen to people? Is that a thing that happens? I feel sorry for those – no, I’m kidding. Of course it has. Definitely. That’s how you get better as a songwriter. In life, with anything, you never get better if you don’t hit those roadblocks that make you get better. If I could write a book about songwriting, that’s what I would call it. You never get better at anything if you don’t hit the roadblocks that make you get better. So whenever you hit a rhyme you just can’t make, you find a different way to say it. Or you settle for maybe not rhyming. There’s ways to work it out. I mean, I’m not afraid to use a rhyming dictionary at all. I definitely do that when I’m stuck and I can’t think of anything. It’s much more fun to think of the rhymes yourself, but if I’m really stuck? Rhymezone.com. It’s not always great. I mean, with songwriting, slant rhymes are key. Using ice // night, that kind of thing, and Rhymezone doesn’t help too much with that. There’s a great quote from The Simpsons where Milhouse writes a poem for a Lisa Simpson and he says, “I used a rhyming dictionary, but it only gives you options. The job of the poet is to say ‘This one, I guess’” (Milhouse Van Houten, Espisode #22.20, ‘Homer Scissorhands‘) I mean, I hate to boil songwriting down to that because it’s a little more complicated than that, but when you’re stuck and you see Rhymezone pop up with the perfect word, or a really great, interesting word, I think it’s fine to find ways to work that in.
Dave’s Photo Blog: But you’re also not afraid to just walk away from the rhyme completely. There’s a number of places in your songs where it’s just about what you’re saying and you’re not going for the rhyme.
Stephie Coplan: Yeah, definitely. I can give you a couple of songs that don’t really rhyme. I think delivery is key — delivering it with confidence is really, really crucial. If you don’t do that, it’s more obvious that it isn’t working. One thing I’m trying to get better at is not rhyming. There are a lot of bands that don’t rhyme all the time and they somehow still sound great. Eliott Smith does that a lot and I love him. And I definitely want to get better at that, because right now a lot of my songs are a little too clever with too many perfect rhymes. I think it gives it a little more texture and flavor if it’s not always perfect all the time. So I have to lighten up a little bit.
Dave’s Photo Blog: I have a question about the lyrics in “Time To Go” The lyrics are “The waitress smiles, time to go”. When you put yourself into that imagery, it’s incredibly powerful.
Stephie Coplan: Thank you. That’s a very personal song. It’s a song about the person that all my songs were about at the time that I wrote it. We always went to the same place for brunch, every Saturday and Sunday, for about three years. I knew the wait staff and I felt like that restaurant was my second home. It’s the Supreme Kitchen on Highland Avenue in Somerville. The restaurant is super small and it looks like you’re in someone’s kitchen. That’s where I went with this guy every single weekend and it ended up being such a significant part of our relationship. I tried taking a different boyfriend there after we broke up and it felt so awful. The other boyfriend didn’t like it and it was a mess. After that, the restaurant was really in my head. That song is about the permanence of people. That’s a theme that carries through a lot of my songs, I think, including “Marilyn Monroe”. No matter how much you go on with your life when you get over someone, it’s amazing how there is something permanent about everyone that just stays with you in the weirdest ways. That brunch place — I can’t ever go there again. I’m in Boston right now and I could go there tomorrow if I wanted to, and I can’t do it, because that is pouring salt on a wound that has been closed up. I’m over it, but there will always be something about that place that hurts a little. And I guess in the song the waitress is telling me it’s time to go — it’s time to move on.
Dave’s Photo Blog: Well, that one really comes across. That means you’re doing it right.
Stephie Coplan: Thank you! I’m glad you listen to lyrics, that means a lot.
Dave’s Photo Blog: So when it the CD going to be released.
Stephie Coplan: I think November. We’re trying to figure out how much press we want to get before we release it. I’m thinking probably a one month lead time, so we’re looking at either November or early December. It’s already been so long, I mean, we recorded our instruments in May, so that’s a pretty long time. It’s going to be five songs and I think we decided to do some pre-sales, so if you buy the album ahead of time, you’ll get an extra, free sixth song. So six for the price of five. And then we’ll record a full length album next year and put that out there.
Dave’s Photo Blog: What’s next for shows? You have Precinct tonight, what about when you get back to New Jersey?
Dave’s Photo Blog: Yeah, I saw win at the Lizard Lounge Main Event
Stephie Coplan: We’re also playing a bit locally and I’m playing solo in Hoboken in a spot where they don’t allow full bands, so I have to do it solo. We have some other stuff coming down the road and obviously we have to figure out a CD release too. I’m not sure where that’s going to be yet – we’ll get that ironed out.
John F. Hebert: We should do a Boston release and a New York release.
Stephie Coplan: I was thinking that might be a good idea.
Dave’s Photo Blog: You guys pulled a good crowd at Toad.
Stephie Coplan: I saw Greg Klyma there.
Stephie Coplan: Oh, Dietrich was there. I didn’t see him.
Dave’s Photo Blog: Oh, yeah, half the people in there were local singer songwriters, probably more, I just didn’t know them.
Stephie Coplan: Grey Klyma was the guy who was helping us out with our sound.
Dave’s Photo Blog: Yeah, and I mean, Jesse Dee was playing too, but they were there for the start of your set and were there the whole time too.
Stephie Coplan: I mean, I knew with Jesse headlining that there was going to be a line, but I had no idea. Todd (Lehman, a local music aficionado and photographer) told me that he had never seen a line form that quickly for an early set at Toad and I was absolutely shocked. I’m still speechless.
John F. Hebert: That’s because of the dream girl — Stephie Coplan.
Dave’s Photo Blog: Well, you drew a great crowd, and that’s what you need.
Stephie Coplan: Yeah, definitely. We’re hoping to play at the Lizard Lounge the next time we’re here. I know Billy books it.
John F. Hebert: Billy Beard, my new best friend.
John F. Hebert: He was like, “Dude, I got everything ready for you. I got your bass amp — it’ll be a good show.” And then he finds out that I’m playing with Stephie and that I wasn’t who he thought I was and he was like, “Oh, I thought you were somebody else. I don’t have anything for you.” I thought, “that went quick. The tides turned.” (laughs) I kind of like that, though. And I like coming into the music business not being a lifelong musician so to speak — being an outsider.
Stephie Coplan: Well that’s one thing I like about moving to the New York area and finding these guys after being in the Boston scene for so long. It’s a very close knit scene — a lot of people are friends and that lends itself to projects that overlap. So you’ve got the Baker Thomas Band (see my previous story about them here), which is like the all stars, the heavyweights in the scene like Tom Bianchi and Danielle Miraglia and all those people. And then you’ve got Christian McNeill, but he’s also got the all star line-up of the Sea Monsters (see my coverage of the Sea Monsters here).
Dave’s Photo Blog: And he also plays with Jimmy Ryan
Stephie Coplan: Right and everyone is so intermingled. And sometimes in any music scene it can feel like you’re seeing the same 20 people over and over again, but in different combinations. I vowed, before I moved away, that if I was going to start a band in Boston, which I never did, that I was not going to use any of those players. I wanted different people, because I didn’t want to be lumped into that combination of repeating characters. I really wanted my own thing. Then, when I moved away, by necessity, I had to find new people. There’s a similar thing going on in New York. It’s this consortium of songwriters that all play at Rockwood Music Hall. They’re all interconnected. This person likes this person, who did a duet with this person, who’s in this person’s band who produced that album and it’s all a big web. Again, it was important to me that I didn’t fall into that. I think, in a way, it can definitely strengthen you and give you support and I definitely want to eventually get to know those people, but at the same time I think it’s cool to just do your own thing. And so I found these guys and I think it’s great because they’re not really affiliated with any particular clique.
Dave’s Photo Blog: I know exactly what you’re talking about, because I’m out in these clubs every week.
Stephie Coplan: Yeah, and they’re all great. I get why they’re getting work. And the thing is, if you’re a professional musician, that’s the dream — when it gets to the point where you’re so well known that when someone starts a band and they need a bass player, they call you. That’s the whole point — I’m not knocking that at all. That’s what you have to do to survive and that’s great.
Dave’s Photo Blog: And it can be very hard to break into that circle of people.
Stephie Coplan: It is, actually. That’s maybe the only thing that’s come out of dating people, or multiple people, from that scene. I’m not recommending this to anyone who wants to break in. (laughs) I’m making it sound like if you want to get in you just sleep with someone. But the truth is if you’re dating someone who’s already in the scene, then you get to meet people. The problem with that is that then you get labelled as so and so’s girlfriend and that was something that was very hard for me when I first started playing out. I was a fly on the wall for two years before I first competed at the Lizard Lounge Open Mike Challenge. And it was like, “oh, isn’t this cute. Stephie’s trying to play music. That’s adorable.” And no one took me seriously because I was always so and so’s girlfriend, even though I’ve been playing piano and writing songs for a really long time, more than half my life. I think moving away helped me a lot because I was out of sight, out of mind and all people saw were things going on on Facebook about my gigs and my friendship with Fountains of Wayne and all that stuff and suddenly I wasn’t a girlfriend anymore. I was my own person, and I’m able to come back with new people, new musicians that nobody knows and it’s refreshing.
Shane Considine: And kick ass.
Stephie Coplan: And just be Stephie and not be linked to anyone’s name. And kick ass.
Dave’s Photo Blog: Well, those are all the questions I had – is there anything I should have asked but didn’t?
Stephie Coplan: (laughs) We had all these answers prepared.
Shane Considine: Do you want to know my zodiac sign?
Stephie Coplan: John, what’s it like to wear the same T-shirt two days in a row?
Shane Considine: Does not showering really help pick up girls?
John F. Hebert: I think it does. It’s a pheromone pick-up.
Stephie Coplan: No, that’s just BO.
Stephie Coplan and the Pedestrians will be playing at the Alphabet Lounge on October 6th with Tony Memmel, and then Stephie will play a solo show at the Digible Arts Festival in Hoboken, New Jersey on September 15th. Watch their web site for more information on upcoming gigs.