Yoga Is Key for Touring Musicians, Says Kopecky Family Band

Overnight success can take years. The Kopecky Family Band's buoyant folk-estral sound goes back seven years to Nashville's Belmont University where they all met. The sextet had released three EPs and were about to self-release their full-length debut, Kids Raising Kids, when they inaugurated a co-headlining tour with an equally anonymous Colorado band, the Lumineers. While they didn't emerge from those dates as popular as their tourmates, it did secure them a label deal from ATO. It re-released the album and helped send the singles "Heartbeat" and "Are You Listening" up the Adult Alternative charts.

They've drawn comparisons to Fleetwood Mac for the coed harmonies of Kelsey Kopecky and Gabe Simon as well as the sunny warmth of the melodies. There's also a shambling psych-tinged symphonic folk element that also recalls Sufjan Stevens but more understated. Their musical training comes in handy as nearly everyone plays multiple instruments and will switch things up from song-to-song. This constant activity contributes to the infectiousness of their performances, and the coordinated Our Gang kind of camaraderie they display. After a couple years supporting Kids, they're probably anxious to release the new material they've been slowly assembling in brief studio session runs, as opportunity allows. The disc's expected early spring of next year, though they have no title as yet.

We caught up with Kelsey Kopecky in Birmingham where they were loading in and Kelsey was literally rolling out her yoga mat.

There was some kind of promotion regarding twittering photos of yoga poses?

What we first did was a contest to determine which cities we should do pre-show yoga, so that contest ran for about a week and we decided on the five cities, and it starts this Monday in Austin, Texas. It's basically a meet & greet and then a 30-minute brief class. It will be fun; I'm excited to see how it all plays out.

How long have you been doing yoga?

I've been practicing for six years but I just finished up my training in Ojai, California in July.

I've been told yoga or meditation is especially crucial for touring musicians.

With every changing environment it's difficult to find some literal common ground. Like the ground passing through every moment going to different cities, so it does provide literal grounding, coming into your breath, calming down for a minute. It's so rejuvenating and it also reminds me why I do what I do - on stage, on the mat, in life. It's like coming closer to the essence of who I really am and therefore I can operate out of that place to sing, to talk to people, to bring yoga to people. It's a very inter-connected process for me.

Are you having trouble keeping the new songs under wraps? You've been playing those Kids songs for at least three to four years now?

We actually started playing some of the new songs on this tour. We've played a handful of them. We know that playing songs live creates a demand for the recording in the future. We toured playing all the songs on Kids Raising Kids for so long before we actually recorded them and I think that provided a good amount of demand for our fans. They were so eager when the album finally came out and were already familiar with the songs. This time around we won't have that much leeway because the record was 15 tracks and the spring will be here before we know it.

So you're not precious about sharing.

No I love it, and we're so excited to play the songs because like you said, Kids Raising Kids has been out for a little bit. We've been touring pretty much non-stop since the record came out. So it's fresh and fun to play the new songs.

Tell us about one of the new songs you'll be playing

We'll be playing a new song called "My Love" which is really fun. I used a vocal harmonizer for the first time. I've never really played with vocals or pedals. It's kinda cool. It takes my voice and makes a harmony above it. It's like having four more of my voice. It's been fun to play that live. It's high energy and the chorus is sing-able. It's been a blast and by the end people are singing along and dancing.

Tell me about the making of the album. I assume you had more resources at your disposal this time.

Making this new record was the first time we had to be in Nashville and write the record with nine months of pre-production, which made us more able to articulate exactly what we wanted to say lyrically, exactly what we wanted sonically. We really simplified things on this record. Kids Raising Kids, we realized, had 90 tracks on some of the songs. So this one we really wanted to know every tone going into the song before deciding which musical part is the most prominent or important, then simplify. As humans we're realizing that less is so much more sometimes and especially this new record.

It takes a certain confidence to pull back. Can we assume you're feeling more comfortable?

We are, for sure. I can really speak personally on that because my experience as a writer has been a process of speaking truth and not watering it down and letting the truth of my voice be heard. I think in a different ways everybody has been going through that, removing the layers, simplifying in every way and getting to the essence of who we are as people and musically too. And playing the best part.

Kopecky Family Band, with Avid Dancer, is scheduled to play Thursday, September 18, at Crescent Ballroom.

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Chris Parker
Contact: Chris Parker