Kopecky, whose sophomore release Drug for the Modern Age is out May 19, had a recent name change that appeared to signal unease within the Nashville-based indie-rock band. The former Kopecky Family Band dropped two-thirds of their title, which usually signifies a shake-up, but such is not the case here. "You know how they tell you in school K.I.S.S. — Keep it Simple Stupid?" laughs frontwoman Kelsey Kopecky. "We just thought, "Let's just keep it simple.
"We've been a band for a little bit, we're about to release our sophomore album, and we realized that a lot of our fans were already calling us Kopecky as a nickname," she explains. "This album is a little more polished, more grown up than our earlier music. We created the Family Band name when we were in college, and this just felt like the next step."
The band has had to constantly answer questions about its name since its inception in 2007. Many first-time listeners figure that the band comprises either a large group of siblings, at least one married couple, or perhaps a child hidden behind the drum kit somewhere.
"We realized it would raise a lot of questions, but it already did by having Family in our name. We were asked all the time, 'So, are you guys really a family?', and none of us are related — we're just best friends."
For a group of musicians who came together as schoolmates, they have shown a stability that many acts their senior would kill to have professionally. Making a name for themselves via constant touring, they have maintained a presence in venues throughout the country despite personal hardships at home.
"We've had the same lineup for the past five years, so there haven't been any changes there," Kopecky says. "We definitely have gone through personal evolutions, whether it was someone going into rehab, or someone's parents getting divorced, or our bass player Cory's mom going through breast cancer remission. We've all gone through these mini evolutions."
The singer points out, "That's a huge reason why I think our new album Drug for the Modern Age really does hit on a bunch of those issues in a positive way. Some of the songs are more emotional and slow and reflective, just really easy-listening groove songs. The content is definitely based on the experiences we've had growing up."
That new album has the band standing in a precarious spot, one that many before have found themselves in and floundered. They await the launch of a sophomore album, an effort that ATO Records is promoting at the moment in the hopes of having a major emerging band on their roster. Kopecky acknowledges that she recognizes what the band faces in the near future, but insists that they are ready for it.
"I do feel that this is going to be our breakout record," she says. "This is our moment of truth, so to speak. Our music will be heard on a little bit bigger platform, whether that is radio, bigger festivals. It's crazy and exciting and scary to think that the next step is a big leap."
Of course, with this being the group's first effort on ATO, that brings along yet another question for the band's future: exactly how much of a hand in guiding the band's sound does the label have in mind as well?
"When you sign to a record label, it is always in the back of your head, 'Who really has the control here?'" Kopecky admits. "The reason that we signed with ATO was because of their reputation with artists and their track record. They have always been very trusting with the artists that they sign. They have minimal involvement on the A&R side, as far as 'OK, now change that lyric. Write more songs like this one,' goes. They honestly empower us to write the music that they know and love us for. They never would have signed us had they not believed in the fact that we would make an album worthy of putting their stamp on. So feeling that way, that does lessen the fear."
Kopecky promises that the band brandishing her last name is the one thing that they all believe will bring them rock stardom.
"This band, although it is my namesake, it's still so much more a collective," she says. "Kopecky is the result of all of us, even if Gabe (Simon) and I are the voices and key writers. I do have a solo project, and I write for other artists, and all the other people in the band work with other projects. We all stay busy, and have other outlets for our creativity, but the band is our first love and the thing that we want to see through."