Skye Brookes didn’t exactly set out to write an album of long songs.
But while recording Copilots’ third album, Sunstroke, a string of eight- and nine-minute tracks just seemed to fall into place. The Vancouver five-piece’s frontman says the move was more in the direction of honouring his creative intuition rather than fulfilling a specific intention.
“The music came out like that,” he says. “I just felt that I didn’t want to ruin my creativity in order to fit a preconceived format of what rock songs, or whatever, should be.”
Brookes adds that the length of several songs on the album isn’t wholly unusual. Other bands he’s played in, such as the instrumental Fond of Tigers, tend to run a tad long, and rock bands historically haven’t shied away from more ambitious song lengths, he points out, citing Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin as examples.
Listeners don’t necessarily notice the length, either. The longer tracks have different “movements,” he describes, and can often feel like three songs in one. The diverse movements in the songs are just one of the ways Brookes sought to incorporate more experimental works into the latest Copilots album.
“I like music that sounds adventurous,” he says. “If the band sounds too derivative to me, I have a little bit of a hard time getting into it. My brain kind of turns off.”
Jesse Zubot, the man behind the screaming, experimental violin heard in Tanya Tagaq and Dan Mangan’s recordings, is partly to thank for Sunstroke‘s creative boost. In addition to his strings being featured in most songs on the album, he also produced it.
Brookes lauds Zubot’s attention to detail and “esthetic for adventurous sound” for bringing a new intensity to the band’s recordings. Zubot suggested Copilots record each song live off the floor, and while it was challenging, Brookes thinks the band sounds better than ever.
From writing to recording, Sunstroke was a venturesome project for Copilots—one that Brookes feels paid off in the final product.
“I hope people listen with an open mind,” he says. “The idea with this album is to take people somewhere unique, somewhere they haven’t been before, sonically.”