Over the course of the past ten years, the music business and the bands within it have seen unprecedented change take place. The balance of power has unquestionably shifted from labels into the hands of the artists themselves. No longer do bands need to be affiliated with a major record label to be guaranteed some degree of success. Word-of-mouth has proven to be as valuable for bands nowadays as a multi-million dollar marketing campaign would have been as recently as last decade.
But in order to reap the benefits of the collapsing music industry, a band must be dedicated to itself as well as to the music it is creating and pursuing.
Within the first year of its existence, Moncton psych-rock band Cop Shades has taken the proverbial bull by the horns, releasing an independent EP and undertaking a national tour all before it turns one year old.
Comprised of Moncton music scene veterans Remi Cormier (The Peter Parkers/Colonial Quarrels) and Kyle McDonald (The Woods, MEN), the two recruited their friend Mathieu Blanchard after a former member had to bow out of current touring commitments just prior to a national tour. Undaunted, the group soldiered on and, according to McDonald, the group had a blast while traversing Canada.
“We had an absolutely mind-blowing response at so many of these shows,” he says. “It feels really great when something you have put so much effort into really starts paying off by people being excited about your performance and wanting to buy your merchandise.”
McDonald admits that slotting the band into one specific musical genre hasn’t been easy for anyone, let alone the band itself. But no matter what bill the group found itself booked upon on its tour, crowds embraced the Moncton band.
“We were unsure how we would go over with the different genres of bands we were playing with and their respective local crowds,” Remi says. “It didn’t seem to matter though; we played with bands ranging from metal to rock to noise to punk to psychedelic and everyone really embraced us which completely caught us off guard.”
Since offering its self-titled debut for free download via the Superbob Records website, McDonald estimates that more than 5,000 people have downloaded the 5-track EP and it has received praises from far away places including Argentina and Sweden. To say the response to the EP was unexpected to those within the band is a definite understatement.
“The response has been truly overwhelming,” Remi says. “It has been posted on blogs and news websites right around the world, giving us a load of listeners and airplay in foreign countries as well as across Canada. We felt the free download option would be convenient for those interested in checking us out and, so far, the response has been great.”
As well as offering its music for free download, the group also shot a video for “North Korean Arts Degree,” one of the tracks from its EP. The video for the song is a fast-paced, energetic piece of eye-candy just short of two minutes in length.
Shot and edited by McDonald himself here in Moncton, a career in video directing could be this man’s calling should the musician avenue not happen to work out: you wouldn’t necessarily know the band was working with very little in the way of a budget when you watch the the final result.
“The idea was for it to be a little out of the box from what you’d usually see,” McDonald says. ” We wanted it to be very fast-paced and energetic with a lot of fast edits. We were ecstatic with the final result.”
If you haven’t already figured it out, Cop Shades is not a band that is willing to wait for opportunities to come knocking on its door. The band seems to be all about creating opportunities for itself and, as such, the world is its for the taking.
While he won’t necessarily cop to wanting his band’s music to take over the world, McDonald’s philosophy is to expose the group’s music to as wide a range of audience as possible and is the primary reason why there has been such a buzz of activity in the Cop Shades camp over the past nine months:
“People are more inclined to listen to your music or take note of your band if you are actively doing something to give them the opportunity to notice you,” he says. McDonald will be the first to acknowledge that not all bands are seeking widespread acclaim and understands that many people are content to play music for the sake of playing music with little in the way of expectations otherwise. He was not content to let Cop Shades follow such a path.
“We could have stuck around the Maritimes for years and played shows to the same cities over and over, but there are countless bands already doing so. I feel that if you are serious about your art, you have to give it a chance to be heard or seen outside of the immediate area or region you call home.”
If McDonald has his way, getting Cop Shades’ music beyond New Brunswick’s borders will be a priority for the immediate future. With a slot at the prestigious Halifax Pop Explosion in October, he admits that America, Europe and Japan are next on the band’s radar for 2011.
“Nothing is set in stone but, given the success we’ve had in achieving our goals so far, we shall see what the future holds!”