Words by David C. Obenour
Twenty years might seem like a long time for a pop-punk band to be going at it. Seven years might seem like a long break between albums too. But for Carbondale’s The Copyrights, time just seems to kind of pass by between recordings, tours, side projects, day jobs, families, and everything else that somehow ends up filling a day. The grand plan remains to play songs with friends, live and in the studio, and primarily these milestone anniversaries serve as a reminder to think about the more grandiose things like “legacy” and “discography.” Fortunately, timing has aligned again for a new album and the songs on it are every bit as fresh as they felt at first. Legacy rolls along as the discography fills itself in.
Off Shelf: Being in bands – especially punk bands – can be a pretty consistent schedule of recording, releasing an album, touring, writing new material while touring – rinse and repeat. How have you been holding up throughout the collective pushing pause that we’ve all experienced over the last two years?
Luck McNeill: It’s been kinda weird, but we aren’t the most active touring band these days. We’ve all got day jobs, wives, kids, etc. What it has done, at least for me, is make me miss playing live something fierce, especially now that we have a new record out. I can’t wait to be able to play these tunes live.
OS: It’s been seven years since the last Copyrights album, but it mostly seems a matter of the stars just not aligning and not any planned break. How does it feel to have Alone in a Dome out there?
LM: Feels great! This is the first Copyrights record I produced, tracked, and mixed at my own studio, and I think the songs are super strong. It’s a common thing to say about your most recent record, but I really think this is the best Copyrights album. And you’re exactly right about this simply being a matter of misaligned stars. We actually started tracking this album over three years ago, and since we were doing it ourselves, we sorta went at our own pace.
OS: Responsible for at least two of those years, COVID created for delays – both self-imposed and because of supply chain issues. I have to imagine that you feel like different people than you were three years ago, so how do the songs sound different to you all these years later?
LM: This kinda goes along with the last answer, but yeah we had literal years to tweak, add, and subtract on these songs. Sometimes that can be a bad thing, but I really feel like this record got stronger the more we honed it in. Personally, I went through some rough times as this record came into existence, so the songs definitely ring a different pitch to me now listening back after a few years.
OS: Isolation also revived a lot of friendships that geography and day-to-day life had made more challenging. Was it a similar matter with getting back to work on Copyrights songs?
LM: All four of us live in different towns now, so recording and rehearsing was a great excuse to get together and hang out like the old days.
OS: What have you discovered you find really important about the band now?
LM: We’re old enough to think about silly things like “legacy,” and not just in music really. So for me, I’m proud of the discography we’ve put together over 20 years.
OS: Another long interruption has been the ability to play in front of an audience. What did you find yourself missing about live shows?
LM: There’s nothing like being able to play new songs, and we’re all chomping at the bit to do that. But obviously, the energy of live punk music can’t be replicated, and also the friends all over the world that we haven’t been able to see for years.
OS: Do you think the interruption of COVID has changed anything about the scene? At least anything you’ve been able to observe so far with the new album and few live dates that you’ve performed so far?
LM: I can’t tell really, since we’ve only done a few shows, but Fest in Gainesville actually felt somewhat normal in 2021. I didn’t know what to expect and I think it ended up one of the better Fests honestly.
OS: This is also your first full length for Fat Wreck, following the 2014 EP, how has that been? What’s your history with the label as a musician and fan?
LM: I mean, it’s huge to us as kids that grew up in the 90s. We still have the rejection letter we got in 1996 from Fat for me and Adam’s old band. It’s definitely a feather in the cap to put out a full-length on Fat to me, and they’ve been nothing but nice so far.
OS: You’ve got a couple of sound clips on the album – at least Stuck in Winter and Before Midnight come to mind – what are those and why did you choose to put them on the album?
LM: Stuck in the Winter sample is bits and pieces of a speech by Buckminster Fuller, who was a professor at SIU – the university in our hometown Carbondale. Bucky was a futurist famous for creating the geodesic dome. Bucky, Carbondale, and retro futurism are all prevalent themes on the new record. The sample in Before Midnight is from the sitcom All in the Family, and we just thought it was funny they mentioned Carbondale. It seemed like a good intro for Midnight, which is probably the most Carbondale-centric song on the record.
OS: Have you been working on new songs? Not imagining it will be another long break before for the next Copyrights album?
LM: I’ve been writing some songs, but more for my other bands right now. As for Copyrights, it could be another 7 years for a new record, or we could have one next year, I can never tell. Right now though, we’re just excited to get Alone in a Dome out in the world. Thanks bud!