|PHOTO CREDIT: Shervin Lainez|
Stephie was nice enough to fuel my obsession by talking with me about how they came up with their band name, "Jerk!," the upcoming EP, her influences, touring plans, and her New Year's resolutions.
How'd you guys come up with The Pedestrians?
That's so funny. We actually went to Chipotle. I'm not even kidding. This is going to sound like a fake story, but it's totally true. We went to Chipotle one night right after we got together and we were pretty much like, "OK. We need a band name." We had been kicking around a few ideas for a few weeks but nothing really stuck. We just sat there and ate burritos and brainstormed. My bass player John said offhandedly, "Pretenders. Performers. Professors. Pedestrians." And I was like, "That's it! Pedestrians!"
We thought it would be easy to market ourselves if we could do stuff with street signs and traffic lights and the colors red, yellow, and green. We were going to go for a whole theme and none of that actually ended up happening. We've haven't done anything. We were going to call our album something like Yield or Stop And Go or something like that. But something about Pedestrians just sounded cool to us.
I love the song and video for "Jerk!" It's gotten some great buzz online. Has it been a crazy month for you?
Yeah. Oh my God. Definitely. Right after Thanksgiving is when we put it up. It helped that it got on the radio in Boston on the commercial alternative station. It's been crazy. Actually, to be honest, it's always cool of course when a blog picks it up and features it and stuff like that, but the cool thing for me has been hearing from friends I thought had kind of forgotten about me. It's so weird because Facebook is amazing in that I think it's removed the need for high school reunions and stuff like that because at any given moment you can tell exactly what your friends are up to. But I didn't think that anybody ever paid attention to me or knew what I was doing and now I've been hearing from people that I went to middle school with, elementary school with, preschool, people that I knew for only a summer at summer camp. People who I thought had totally forgot about me are telling me how much they like the song and that's just so cool to reconnect with everyone.
Tell me about the song. Do you know a lot of jerks?
Oh my God yes. You know what's so funny? This should tell you something: people actually can't even tell who the song is about. People who know me personally don't even know because there's so many possible people in my past that it could have been that they're all guessing wrong. It's not like I've never been in a good relationship. I definitely have and I've dated some really great people, but I've experienced my fair share of jerks for sure.
The song, to me, differs musically from most of your other songs. Are you moving away from songs where the piano is the centerpiece? Are you planning on adding a guitarist to the band?
It's something that we're thinking about, but piano will always be the center of the band because I'm a pianist and I'm the one writing the songs. It's almost good and bad, because people who like piano rock I think will really like us. People who like "Jerk!" but maybe aren't tuned to piano might not like our other songs and that's something we're aware of. But in the future, I think we're going to try to split it up a little more, maybe some of the songs will sound more like "Jerk!" But for the most part, our core sound is always going to have that piano rock feel.
I love your EP. I think it's smart, humorous, and sounds amazing. How long did it take you to record it?
We recorded the instruments, the piano, bass, and drums, in two days at a studio in upstate New York. The vocals and all the other stuff you hear, the synths and stuff like that, we did over the course of three months.
Were these songs you had written and been performing for awhile or were they recorded specifically for this EP?
They definitely weren't recorded specifically for this EP, but all the songs were written after I moved to New York City in August 2010. So all the songs are from the past year pretty much. I've been writing songs since I was about fourteen. But the ones on this album, when it came time to record, we obviously wanted to record our best songs. So I looked through all the stuff that I had written and I felt that those five were really the songs I was most proud of as a songwriter.
I know it won't be released until January 21st, but what type of feedback have you received from people who have heard it?
Overall, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and that's made me feel so good. It's one thing to feel like your own stuff is good as an artist. I hope every artist feels that way about their own music but you never know how the public's going to take it. I think most songwriters give themselves pep talks in the mirror where it's like, "Don't worry about what anyone else says. You're great! You're amazing!" You can prepare yourself the best you can, but it's always going to hurt when somebody doesn't like your stuff, no matter what kind of skin you've built up.
I'm waiting for that. Fortunately, no one so far has strongly disliked it. Although there was one comment on YouTube that I saw from somebody who said that my song wasn't "girl power" enough or something like that, which wasn't what I was going for anyway, so it's totally fine. But other than that, the feedback's been really great and made me feel really good. I've gotten comparisons to a lot of bands that I love like Metric and Garbage...
|PHOTO CREDIT: Shervin Lainez|
I hear Garbage in ["Jerk!"] a lot.
Yeah! And I love them, but I'd never thought anybody would compare us to them. Somebody in South America actually told me that I sounded like Katy Perry but more rock. I don't know how true that is, but it made me feel really happy to hear because obviously she's really successful.
My favorite song on the EP is "Take Me Back To The Suburbs," which is funny as hell and just dripping with white middle class angst. What's your favorite song on the album?
Hmm, that's a tough question. You know they're all just soooo good. No, I'm kidding.
I think "We Don't Need Much" is the song I'm most proud of. I think the arrangement's really cool that my producer and I came up with. I think it's kind of fun and gentle, but there's something about it that feels really honest to me and I think my voice comes across. Not my singing voice, but I think my personality comes across really well in that song and really accurately, so I think I'm probably most proud of that one.
I've got to know: have you heard anything from Ben Folds?
No, I haven't! That's my dream. If we get to open for him one day, no matter what happens after that musically, I'll always be able to die happy if I can open for Ben Folds.
Aside from Ben Folds, who are your other musical influences?
Fountains Of Wayne, for sure. Specifically Adam Schlesinger, who writes about half of the songs for the band. I think that they are so smart. He was the first songwriter I ever heard who peppered his lyrics with pop culture references like TV shows and stuff like that. I sort of looked into them when I was in middle school about ten years ago. This was even before "Stacy's Mom," actually. I just completely fell in love with how he was able to write what I thought was poetry and get a point across, but do it in a way that was really conversational and relatable. That's something I try to do in all my songs, especially "Suburbs." I reference Nancy Botwin and The Wire and all kinds of stuff and that's pretty heavily influenced by Fountains Of Wayne.
I would say them and also Paul Simon, who I think is the greatest songwriter of all time, Billy Joel, Elliott Smith. Those are probably my top ones.
Will you be touring throughout the US next year or mainly staying in the Northeast?
Oh man, we hope so! Our plan is to spiral outward. We're trying to build up a really solid fan base in the Northeast between Boston and New York. We actually haven't played Philly yet and we don't have any plans to, but that's the next city we'll try to break into. We'll spiral out from there. If the Northeast goes well, the plan is probably to cross the country and do the West Coast next and then hit the Midwest and South.
|PHOTO CREDIT: Shervin Lainez|
What do you think 2012 will bring for your band?
World domination, obviously.
I'm kidding! I don't know. To be honest, all of us in the band, we all want to quit our day jobs and be full-time musicians, which is really close to happening for us right now. We're hoping that that's what 2012 will bring: full-time touring.
Cool. Any New Year's resolutions yet?
Ooh, good question. You know what? My New Year's resolution is to go out more because honestly, all I do is go to work and come home and write songs and go to bed. So many friends invite me to shows and sometimes I go and sometimes I don't. My New Year's resolution is to get out and see live music at least three times a week.
First album, tape, or CD you purchased with your own money?
Aw, man. I think it was Dookie by Green Day.
Cool. Alright, we've got three questions we ask everybody who is nice enough to talk to us. First one is Tiffany or Debbie Gibson?
I would say Tiffany.
Pretty In Pink or Sixteen Candles?
Hmm... Sixteen Candles.
And finally, Thriller or Purple Rain?
OK. Great. Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today and I hope you sell a million copies of your EP!
Want more Stephie Coplan & The Pedestrians?
Official | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | YouTube | Bandcamp