Possibly the last album Copeland will release, You Are My Sunshine is marked with the trademark sound that afforded the Orlando quartet a 10-year run as the sensitive princes of the modern day emo and pop-punk worlds. Frontman Aaron Marsh's airy falsetto voicing sentimental verses works against a backdrop of dreamy keyboards and a lush rhythm section, as it long has.
The 2008 disc continues with the expansion of the band's sonic palette that started on 2006's Eat, Sleep, Repeat, too. The gentle waltz of "The Day I Lost My Voice (The Suitcase Song)," for instance, is punctuated with digitally programmed beats and soft horn flourishes while pitting Marsh's vocoder-treated vocal against a bridge from guest Rae Cassidy Klagstad. Lyrically, Marsh—in his typically romantic fashion—considers the internal strife that leads to his tendency to flee from hairy situations.
A week before heading out on the last tour of Copeland's career, Aaron Marsh filled us in on the mysterious origin of the song's title, his feelings towards vocal processing and his chance discovery of Klagstad.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: I've heard that the song's title comes from the fact that you wrote the music on a day when you thought you had actually lost your voice. True?
AARON MARSH: Yeah. I was having problems with my voice and started to fear the worst. I couldn't talk or sing at all. I wrote the music on the day I made an appointment with a specialist. I wrote the melody and lyrics later, but the instrumental was done that day.
"The Day I Lost My Voice" uses Autotune fairly prominently. How do you feel about the typically negative connotation that's been given to Autotune since its use has become more widespread?
It's actually a vocoder, not Autotune, but I'll answer the question anyway. I love great songs. Autotune can't make the song itself any better or worse. It can change a performance, but not the song itself. It's just an effect and to write off a song based on one effect is silly to me. If the song is great, you can load it up with autotune, and it will still be a good song. If the song sucks, no amount of autotune is going to make it better. So the effect isn't a game changer for me. But I guess if the sound of the effect is irritating to people I can understand that. It just doesn't really grate on my nerves.
Speaking of vocals, this track is one of three songs featuring guest vocalist Rae Cassidy Klagstad after Anna Becker played that role on Eat, Sleep, Repeat. How do you guys find these relatively unknown singer/songwriters with such amazing voices, and what led to Rae recording on the album?
Anna was living in Orlando and doing music with Gasoline Heart as her backing band and was kinda generating a big buzz around central Florida. We became friends and started collaborating. I had her sing on the Anchor & Braille record [Marsh's side project with Anberlin vocalist Stephen Christian] as well as Eat, Sleep, Repeat. I really love her voice and her songs. She recently had a baby, so she isn't doing a lot of music lately. I'm hoping she'll get back into it soon. She's great.
I found Rae Cassidy on MySpace. I stumbled across her page and thought that her music was pretty brilliant. She was only 14 when I heard her music for the first time. I kept tabs on her for a few years and when it came time to do You Are My Sunshine, I thought she'd be perfect for it. I figured our fans would really dig what she was doing.
My thought for guest vocals on Copeland records is that we'd use up-and-coming artists rather than getting high-profile guests, not that there is anything wrong with high-profile guests. I really just liked the idea of introducing a smaller artist to our fans.
Sonically, "The Day I Lost My Voice" shares a few similarities with "Love Affair" from Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Are the waltz structure and the horn section both elements that you've become more familiar with as the band has progressed?
We definitely found our sound on Eat, Sleep, Repeat. Expanding our instrumentation was a big part of that. I'm not sure about the waltz feel. I think I have always felt natural writing in that meter, but I try to use it sparingly because it sounds so stylized.
What's the significance of the storm in the third verse and the bridge of the song?
The storm just represented inner turmoil, and Rae's voice was meant to feel like a moment of clarity.
Am I wrong in assuming the "life in a suitcase" is a reference to touring? Was that any foreshadowing to the end of Copeland?
Not a foreshadowing at all. It was more looking back at the way I'd handled my problems in the past.
What's in store for you (and the rest of the band) after the farewell tour?
I'll be producing records primarily, and I'm starting a new band for fun. All of us would like to be involved in music somehow. I don't think we've all figured it out yet.
Copeland kicks off its farewell tour Wednesday, March 3, at Cat's Cradle. Openers I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody's Business, Person L and Deas Vail start at 7 p.m. Tickets are $14-16.