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Interview with Copehill Down
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Although we’re a relatively new band, we’ve all been playing in various bands as far back as the early 2000s and each of us have been on different musical journeys over the years. However, our common interest has always been metal music, whether metalcore or the more classic metal of the 80s and 90s. Iron Maiden and Metallica for instance, have been huge influences for all of us since we were young teenagers and among the reasons we started wanting to play music. We’ve all been playing music as far back as we can remember and it’s actually really hard to recall a time when we weren’t! If we hadn’t got into music, we’d probably be doing much the same as we are now. As much as we’d all love to play music for a living, we’ve all had to build and juggle full time careers outside of music anyway, kind of like living two lives at once. The band is a huge part of our lives but we don’t have anywhere near as much time to dedicate to it as we’d like.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
We’re all pretty active and enjoy things like hiking, we’re lucky to live in South Wales for that, loads of stunning landscapes to explore. We’re all incredibly busy generally, some of us have families and kids which are always a joyful source of inspiration of course haha! Any free time we get we tend to dedicate to writing new music and practicing.
How long has your band been around?
Only since 2021 with the current line-up but Copehill Down has existed in one form or another since 2015. The band was very different back then and our current sound and style didn’t really evolve until around 2019-2020.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We’re based out of Newport and Cardiff generally. There are some really great metalcore bands in the South Wales metal scene, some we’re good friends with and we all tend to influence and support each other! We’re actually going on a joint mini tour with two fellow local bands in July to help each other branch out of South Wales, which we’re all really excited about!
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Our name came about because Neil (our lead guitarist) had a book lying around called ‘Abandoned Places’. It was basically a book of narrated photography of various abandoned places around the world. This theme along with themes we’d been writing about lyrically at the time, just seemed to work together. After a bit more research we discovered this abandoned, purpose-built army training village in the Salisbury Plains called Copehill Down. We thought it had kind of a cool ring to it, as in a ‘Parkway Drive’ kind of ring and that was that. Some people assume we’re ex-soldiers because of the name which makes us laugh – we’re not soldier material.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
To be honest, we’ve only played a handful of local shows as Copehill Down so far, all of them have been intimate gigs, often packed, hot and sweaty, just how we like it haha! But being seen live and interacting with fans is what it all boils down to for us, nothing is more important. Absolutely everything else is simply aimed at increasing the number of fans at each show.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
We’d probably have to say The Pit in the basement of McCanns in Newport. It’s small venue, but always has a great crowd and decent sound. Fuel Rock Club is also an obvious choice as Cardiff’s only dedicated rock and metal bar. There are loads of venues we have our eye on across the UK, some we’ve already booked to play at later this year, including The Crofters Rights in Bristol, The Hobbit Pub in Southampton and The Engine Rooms in London, all three look like great venues! We would obviously love to play slightly bigger venues as well, Satan’s Hollow in Manchester for instance looks really cool and different!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I think we would have to say Unearth, (who are arguably our biggest influence), Parkway Drive and August Burns Red. All three bands are legendary, they’re all incredible musicians, plus they all seem like genuinely decent guys!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
You absolutely have to love creating music and playing live! I think we’d all agree that playing live is what we enjoy the most, it’s the ultimate rush and the main reason we do what we do. Writing songs and music is also a huge part of what we enjoy, it’s a really satisfying creative outlet and motivates us to keep pushing ourselves. But as a self-managed band, you also need to take on everything yourselves and some parts are obviously more enjoyable than others. Booking your own shows can be challenging to say the least. Financially, there is no reward when your starting out and even successful bands in a niche genre like metalcore struggle to make ends meet so don’t do it for the money! Everything is an investment in the future, which can be really tough when times are as tight as they are right now. Although you can save a lot of money by recording, mixing and mastering your own songs, creating your own music videos and designing your own artwork, you will still need to spend a lot on promotional activities like PR and social ads, plus venue fees, fuel costs, accommodation, printing merch and weekly rehearsal room hire to name just a few. This is where a balance in prioritisation is key, we all have full time day jobs and family commitments to juggle as well, so we’re in a band purely because we love it.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
There will always be so many amazing metal bands out there and everyone is having to become better and better at what they do to have any chance of standing out. That means writing songs as good as, if not better than everything else out there, including the most well-known, legendary bands in the genre, just to get people’s attention. With streaming platforms, you will be up against, and being judged directly next to, hundreds of bands who have been doing what they do full time for decades. Most have big label backing and management, world-class recording studios, in-house artwork designers and the best equipment money can buy. Somehow, you need to try and compete with that, recording in a small bedroom with entry-level gear, just to convince someone to give you a go when they are already saturated by constant releases from the big bands they already know. So yeah, it’s tough and you’ve got to be up for the challenge and ready to fight for attention. Don’t dwell on it and just create the music you want to create and hope people enjoy it. Just do your best and enjoy the journey, don’t be afraid to dream but don’t get too hung up on trying to force things to happen.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
To be honest, it’s really hard to choose, each of our songs are quite different and unique and we’ve poured a lot into each one. If we had to choose, our latest single, World One, is probably the song we’re most proud of to date. Lyrically, we’d consider it our strongest so far and we’re really happy with it musically. We’d describe it as the epic centre piece of our upcoming EP.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
We only have about seven or eight songs to date and we enjoy playing all of them. However our song ‘Reckoning’ is arguably our darkest, most frantic and most atmospheric song and probably our favourite to play live! ‘Silent Twin’ has been our most popular song so far and tends to be the most well-known.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Musically it’s a mix of riffs or melodies just coming together whilst playing, a hook or something might just form and then riffs are built around those. In terms of lyrics, we write about social commentary a lot, basically things that piss us off and those things we have to deal with in everyday life.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Both are upcoming EPs are actually concept EPs hinging around the collapse of civilisation and how human nature has attributed to it. We wanted to tell a story that raises questions and addresses issues about the trajectory of the ‘end times’ of our civilisation. Cheery stuff haha! We’re a miserable bunch who thrive on being pissed off generally.
For example, the opening song of the EP which is yet to be released is essentially about indoctrination and the arrogance of particular power structures such as empirical science, and the impact this has had on the beliefs of the masses and their connection to a spiritual aspect of life. The song highlights that the loss of our awareness of our ‘spiritual selves’, not necessarily in relation to organised religion, is a symptom of the design and decline of human nature and civilisation.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
There can be occasional creative differences now and again but generally we’re all pretty aligned on what we like. We tend to just vote on things and move on. Tensions mainly occur due to us all having such busy lives outside the band which can make booking shows and practices a bit of a challenge but we’ve learnt to work pretty well with the time we have to all get together.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We will be releasing our debut EP, ‘The Design, The Disaster: Part One’ on 21st April with another new single and video to be released before then. We are also going on a small UK summer tour with two other South Wales based metal bands (and good friends of ours), ‘State Of Deceit’ and ‘Collapse The Void’. We already have shows booked at The Crofters Rights in Bristol on 27 July, The Hobbit Pub in Southampton on 28 July, and The Engine Rooms in London on 29 July. All shows will be free entry and limited capacity so we’d advise anyone interested to get down early to avoid disappointment. We’re really excited to be touring with two other awesome bands and spreading our wings to play outside of South Wales.
Finally, we are planning on closing out this year with the release of our follow-up EP, ‘The Design, The Disaster: Part Two’, in December with two brand new singles to be released leading up to the launch. We’re just trying to establish ourselves and take things one step at a time. We’d really love to play at festivals both in the UK and in Europe, I think that would be our ultimate goal for now.
We are however, very sorry to say that our vocalist Dan has very recently decided to end his journey with Copehill Down. Dan has been with the band since the very beginning and watched it form from a two person recording project back in 2015 to what we are today. We are all juggling a lot with full time day jobs and family commitments, and being in a band on top can be extremely tough and demanding. We completely understand and respect Dan's decision and would like to thank him for all of his dedication over the years. Copehill Down will be continuing as a band and the search for a new vocalist is already under way and looking promising, hopefully a more positive announcement coming soon! We will still be releasing our EP in April as planned and we're confident to come out of this stronger than ever.