The fifth full-length from Georgia's Kylesa, Spiral Shadow, won't be out for another month, but it's already undoubtedly the best portrait of the band yet. The metal fivesome—guitarist/ vocalist Phillip Cope, guitarist/ vocalist Laura Pleasants, drummer Carl McGinely, bassist/ keyboardist Corey Barhorst, drummer Tyler Newberry—mete out heavy riffs, thick and sticky as Southern air, with melodies and drum duels as crisp as cold beer. A mélange of wandering psychedelia, driving punk, riff-laden metal and rock boogie, it's omnivorous music.
As one of a diverse array of loud-and-heavy acts at Hopscotch, Kylesa is indicative of the festival's tendencies for boundary-bending metal. And playing next door to bands of any number of different stripes is, Cope says, the reward of the weekend. We spoke with Cope as he prepares for Kylesa's upcoming tour with High on Fire and Torche, the new album's release and Hopscotch.
INDEPENDENT WEEKLY: Being in one of the heavier bands playing Hopscotch, how does it feel to be part of a broad music festival?
PHILLIP COPE: Oh, I'm stoked about it.
Do you think people will tend to gravitate towards what they know, or do you think it'll really broaden people's horizons?
That's really hard to tell. But I think there will be enough people there interested in the heavier bands, for sure. Just as a fan of all kinds of music like I am, I'm stoked about it because I get to see all different kinds of bands. You know, when we're not playing, I'm definitely going to go around and check out some stuff.
I've been listening to Spiral Shadow pretty constantly, and as we're talking about this broad spectrum of music, it's interesting because I hear a lot of new elements in this record that I haven't heard before from Kylesa. Was there anything new you were trying to get out this time?
When we start writing, there's never really a huge game plan. We just kind of start writing and what happens is kinda what happens. It definitely dawned on us as we were going that some of the material was coming out different, but we decided not to worry about it and just go with it.
It seems to be a lot more psychedelic than some of the others, and a lot more melodic, too.
There was definitely a focus on songwriting. We just really wanted to write some catchy, memorable songs. As far as getting trippier, some of that may be due to the fact that earlier, when we started Kylesa, I was using a lot more pedals. And over the years I've gotten away from it to the point that I was wanting to get back into it. On my own, guitar playing was getting a little trippier, and I think Laura [Pleasants] actually went a littler further herself this time, too.
Is there anything different you'd been listening to, working on Spiral Shadow?
Well, Laura got into Built to Spill. Corey [Barhorst] and I had been into that for a while. There's such cool guitar playing on a Built to Spill record, I think that was a big influence. I think it's always been the same, though. We just listen to all different kinds of stuff.
I think it shows, too. It's kind of weird to try and talk about something you don't even know how to categorize. It's loud and it's heavy, but it's not Cannibal Corpse. It's far from Built to Spill, too.
We know we're a heavy band. We're definitely rooted in that. We're not going to try to pretend like we're not. And I actually enjoy Cannibal Corpse and bands that are really brutal like that. But I never felt, as a player, really comfortable playing that kind of metal. I like it and I appreciate it, but it's not necessarily my style. And all of us, we're not strictly people who listen to nothing but metal, and inevitably, as a band you're going to, if you're taking influences from all over different spectrums of music, it's going to show up in the way you play.
Well, what's the reward in being in a band for you?
Getting to travel, getting to play shows. We just got back from a European tour that was completely awesome. We got to tour with great bands, and we got to play a lot of really awesome fests, where we got to see a lot of great shows. We played this fest called Pukkelpop [in Belgium], and it was all different kinds of bands, where literally, in a couple hours, I got to see Gojira, a metal band I really like, and I got to see Flaming Lips. It was just completely opposite spectrum, but both shows were absolutely amazing. That was a reward. It's like, not only do I get to play an awesome show, I get to see two completely awesome shows on the same day.
Do you feel like you'll have enough opportunities in Raleigh to do likewise?
Oh, I'm gonna try.