When did the word ‘indie’ lose its meaning? When was it that it stopped being a genre for a new wave of music, untouched by the big record labels, a kind of music that had the sensibilities of pop with the hard edge of rock music?
Think of the ‘big indie acts’ becoming stars due to massive label endorsement of their debut record. When they then fail to sell many copies of their subsequent releases, it gives the impression that bands aren’t willing to go about their music by their own means, and think long-term. Step in Stonehaven’s Copy Haho, whose DIY approach to music is a refreshing change from the plethora of acts with a lazy get-rich-quick-worry-later mentality, and is built to last.
Quite rightly, Copy Haho are creating hype. The heartfelt and charming lyrical style of Joe Hearty, the sterling guitar and bass playing of Joe, Stuart and Richard and the unfathomably technical drumming of Rikki has led to great opportunities for the four-piece. Supporting “heroes” Sebadoh at a Triptych date in Glasgow; appearing on Vic Galloway’s Radio 1 show and touring with the excellent Hot Club de Paris, all signs point towards success – in their own way, and in their own time. Copy Haho remain unsigned; I explain that other bands might be wondering why if they were attracting the same amount of interest. Bassist Richard seems unfazed by it: “It doesn’t annoy or confuse me – I don’t think any of us think that just because we opened for some bands that are more well known than us, that we’re entitled to some sort of amazing record deal – some bands, good or bad, get signed after playing one show, some bands – again, good or bad – never ‘get signed’ – If it was a choice between being something ridiculous like the Kooks, or something that’s completely amazing but by the wayside, like the Shaggs, I’d choose the latter without hesitation”. Singer and guitarist Joe shares this sentiment: “I have no problem with bands making a quick buck, becoming local celebrities and then splitting up two weeks later, but it’s certainly not something I’d want to be involved in.”
Don’t confuse this with a lack of ambition, however. “That said, we’d obviously like to put records out and for as many people to hear and like it as possible”, Richard adds.
Copy Haho, in their current form, began around two and a half years ago, as a continuation of a previous project, Politik. Originally playing darker, more minimalist music, the band began a gradual shift towards catchier pop songs, which drew comparisons to the likes of Pavement and Built to Spill. First time listeners to the band are often quick to pinpoint influences, but Joe explains that what inspires the quartet is more complex than a list of bands: “I can’t explain how it happens – our biggest influences are probably each other”. Lyrically, the story is the same: “I’m not too sure who influences me… I guess it’s a combination of everything I’ve ever listened to or read (both good and bad). I don’t think it’s something you can really filter all that much, or control, so it’s difficult for me to cite specific influences”.
Copy Haho hail from Stonehaven, a seaside town and popular tourist attraction. Hardly a thriving centre of culture (it’s alright, I live there, I can say this), people are often surprised by Copy Haho’s success, considering where they’re from. However, living 15 miles away from Aberdeen made gigging relatively easy for the band. Aberdeen often gets a bad reputation, in musical terms, even with an array of decent venues, and some promising local acts. Is being an ‘Aberdeen band’ something that Copy Haho ever think about? Richard explains: “It’s nothing we really think about! There are good venues and a small group of people doing good things… for its size, it more than punches above its weight, for its size, in terms of touring bands and venues. As for local bands though, none of us are really that clued up – we only really know a few people!”
Copy Haho’s reputation as a live act is stellar, regardless of where they’re playing. The between-song chat between the band and the crowd is always enjoyable, with songs dedicated to Jesus (“not that Jesus…”), Elvis Presley and Princess Diana. I ask the band about their live shows. I am again surprised by Richard’s answer: “I used to really hate it (playing live); as I’d get stupidly nervous and always think that I hadn’t played as well as I should have.” Joe adds: “Both recording and playing live can be equally fun. I love the satisfaction you get from hearing a finished version of something that’s been in your head/practice room for months. Live though, there’s that random element – anything could happen at any time, good or bad.”
This modesty and sensible outlook on their music belies the band’s musical ability. Copy Haho are masters of their art – sculpting ambitious, thought-provoking songs, which are at the same time concise and heartfelt. This band doesn’t care about making a quick buck, and certainly aren’t going to compromise for major label success. Given the attention Copy Haho have received on the back of only one 7” release, it’s only a matter of time – their own time – until the band are propelled on to a bigger platform, and given the work ethic of the band, it’s richly deserved.