Interview with Knox Hamilton

Knox Hamilton Promo Photo 1

While lead singer Boots Copeland was on dad-duty, drummer Cobo Copeland, bassist Taylor Flynn, and guitarist Drew Buffington welcomed Stitched Sound photographer Emma and writer Liz Watts backstage after their set at the University of Tulsa’s Springfest for a chat.

When people think of the Little Rock music scene, they don’t really think of one, right? How did you guys create this alternative pop rock sound when you come from a place so heavily influenced by country and folk music?
Cobo: I guess we just didn’t really listen to music like that, we listened to our own stuff. We came from Texas- Sherman Texas, a tiny little town where there are no bands. So we never really were influenced by our peers, just by bands we actually listen to.

What are bands that your music is influenced by?
Cobo: We were huge into the Killers’ album Hot Fuss, really all their stuff. Also a lot of Tears for Fears.

You can definitely hear those vibes in your music. Tears for Fears is older, like our parents’ generation. Growing up, did your family have any musical influence on you?
Cobo: Definitely, they were really supportive. My mom’s a singer, and my dad actually started listening to Alt. Nation when we were on there, so he will still listen to it and as us things like “Have you all heard about this new band?” and stuff like that.
Taylor: My parents are too conservative! We all grew up doing music in church and singing or playing drums or bass, so that’s where we go a lot of our influences with our harmonies.

When I think church music, I think hymnals. Was it more contemporary, though?
Taylor: It was Pentecostal, so the older generation liked the hymnals and the younger ones liked the more contemporary stuff. My church though did a lot of Black Gospel. That’s where I learned to do harmonies. Dude, listen to Black Gospel and you’ll hear them and they’re incredible! We actually do a lot of hard harmonies I would’ve never tried to figure out!

That’s so cool, do you like to do a lot of singing?
Taylor: Yeah, I do, but I obviously just do the harmonies with Boots. I used to sing at church and do the whole solo thing but I think I’m doin’ too much right now! He [Cobo] plays drums at church and I did bass when I could. That’s actually how I met them, their dad is a pastor and I started going to his church. His wife does the music so one day I was just like “hey!”

When did you all exactly start together as a band?
Cobo: We’ve been friends with Drew for about four years and we met Taylor a couple years ago, maybe?
Taylor: Yeah, about two.

Did you guys start out and do weddings or anything like that?
Cobo: Yeah we did a couple but were mostly just goofing around, maybe just like once a month. Then, we recorded “Work Out” just because we wanted to. We weren’t really trying to do anything, but it just kinda happened.

When did you realize that this whole band thing was actually turning into something?
Cobo: I think when we heard “Work it Out” back. I mean, with the other songs, our families heard them and told us they liked it, of course, but we didn’t really think of anything until we got that back. Then, we just tried getting that played wherever we could, and eventually the manager we have now heard us on Spotify and reached out to us.

Awesome! So you guys have played festivals and just got off tour with Grizfolk, and are setting out to open with Coasts next week. How did you get hooked up with them?
Taylor: We are on the same record label as them!
Cobo: Yeah, I think their manager heard us and asked. I’m pretty sure it’s actually the longest tour we’ve been on yet- I’m a little hesitant but I knew we had to do this!

What will you guys miss most about being gone that long- apart from your wives and dogs and such?
Taylor: Well, I don’t have a wife, so I’ll miss the beach! I still live in Florida. I was born and raised in Pensacola, Florida, and moved up to Little Rock and lived there for about two years.

Okay, so what did you move to Little Rock for?
Taylor: Oh, no.

Was it for a girl?
Taylor: It was for a girl, and she lived in Little Rock and I lived in Florida and didn’t want to do the long distance thing anymore so I moved up and about a year later it just didn’t work out. But luckily I met up with these dudes and stayed a little while longer, but was like “Man, I miss Florida but I still wanna tour. But I also wanna be in Florida when I’m not on tour.”

Does that create any problems within the band, being in another state?
Drew: So far it’s been pretty smooth.
Taylor: So, I’ll just drive up a couple days before it’s time to go and get our practice time in and knots worked out. It’s been pretty good so far, though.

Good! What’s your all’s writing process like? Do you sit down and crank out a whole tune in one night, or is it a longer process?
Cobo: I don’t think any of us are one-night song writers. Boots is the main song writer and drew does a lot of the guitar hooks and foundational stuff. But I don’t think we’ve ever cranked out a song in a day!
Drew: There’s no way! It’s terrible.
Taylor: The closest one would probably be ‘How’s Your Mind.’ Boots and Tim.
Drew: Yeah, that was pretty much a studio song.

Do you guys have a certain producer you really like that helps you get things worked out in the studio?
Cobo: That’s Tim! He actually produced Walk the Moon, too.
Drew: Yeah, he’s really the only one we’ve worked with, period.

That’s great! The set you just played was great- are any of you guys natural born performers?
*a chorus of “no’s”*
Drew:
I don’t even know what that means.
Taylor: Even when I joined, we were still all so awkward! Like the label guys would come out and literally tell us, “Y’all are so freakin’ boring.” But, it’s like the longer we play together the more comfortable we get onstage. Obviously none of us had ever toured before so this is all still brand new and we are learning the ropes.
Cobo: And especially when you first start out and no one really knows your songs, so you feel extremely inferior. It’s kind of awkward to just stand there and shred it when everyone’s just looking around. But it’s cool when people start singing your songs back to you. 

Have there been times when you recognize the same groups of fans at different shows?
Cobo: This last tour, the same handful of and followed us to like 3 different cities.
Taylor: I saw a couple people in the crowd tonight from The Vanguard show!

I love that! With your fans, is there a certain group you’re trying to attract? Or image you try to keep?
Cobo: I don’t think we really try anything.
Taylor: We’ll take anybody who will listen!
Drew: We welcome all.
Cobo: We try to stay away from the old farts…although they have the money.
Taylor: Yeah, but the young ones have the energy that we need at the shows!

So what kind of places do you like to perform at better? Music festivals or small venues like the Vanguard here in Tulsa?
Drew: I think that goes back to if people know your stuff or not. We’ve played some bigger festival crowds where people know at least a couple songs and it was awesome. But we’ve also had those experiences at places like the Vanguard, too. 

What are your all’s feelings about social media?
Cobo: Taylor is extremely good at it!

Did you [Taylor] do all the photos on the band Instagram promoting the new songs?
Taylor: No! Actually Cobo did all of those! I sent in a couple, but he’s done most and they’ve been incredible. He pretty much runs the Knox Hamilton page.

 

Back to the new music, you say “Summer 2016” for the LP. Is it a for sure thing or is it still up in the air for now?
Cobo: It’s a green light, right?
Drew: It’s as for sure as it’s ever been!
Cobo: Actually, my cousin the other day said “Haven’t you guys been saying you were supposed to come out with an album for like a year and a half now?” But that’s just family I guess! 

Are you guys nervous for releasing the album?
Taylor: Uhm, maybe… I don’t know.
Drew: I haven’t really thought about it as something to be nervous over, but its mostly just anticipation. I mean, it’s our first album and its with a major label. So I think we might be a little more excited than nervous.

Is the new album going to be really similar to your EP?
Cobo: All the songs we played tonight are on the album!
Drew: So with the EP, I think the songs are a little more alternative and have a little more synth, but with the album I think a majority are more guitar driven. There are some songs that really bridge the gap between synth and guitar.

I loved hearing the new stuff! What are some places you’ve played or key points so far in your career where it’s felt like a dream?
Taylor: I think when we played a sold out Troubador show, that was incredible.
Drew: Firefly festival was amazing.
Cobo: I think Hangout was my favorite. We played super early so the crowd wasn’t like amazing-
Taylor: But you’ve gotta admit, about halfway through the set it was like all the way out to the street. When we first started out I was like “dude, this is kinda sad.”
Drew: Well, we were like the first show of the day so it was like 10 o’clock in the morning!

Those are always when the best bands play though! What are some of the band’s goals within the next few years?
Cobo: Immediate, I would say headlining like a crowd of a thousand.
Taylor: Our own headlining tour.

That’s do-able! What about 10 years?
Cobo: Retired. No, I’d say I’d like to be headlining Coachella!
Drew: If in ten years we were still kinda relevant and making music that people still liked- like Coldplay!
Taylor: In 10 years I’ll be 35… hopefully I can still walk!
Cobo: Yeah, Taylor goes pretty hard.

I feel like the energy you put out onstage you get back though, right?
Cobo: Yeah, we’ve learned that the hard way.

What did you guys think of the crowd tonight?
Drew: There were a lot of people that had seen us before, but I think a lot were hearing us for the first time and so I feel like I never can tell.
Taylor: It was kinda one of those crowds who don’t do much during the song but go nuts afterwards.

Yeah, I’ve noticed that’s kind of what happens during newer acts here. What do you guys like doing on your days off?
Drew: We are idealistic in the fact that we like to think we are adventurers, but a lot of the time on tour it’s a lot of laundry and going to the mall.
Cobo: If Tay had his way, we would be seeing everything!
Drew: A lot of the time we are given a day off but it’s spent driving 10 hours to the next show. But we try see stuff like national parks and historical sites and stuff.

Before you started the band and started touring, did you guys ever think you’d be seeing and travelling so many new places?
Drew: I don’t think it ever even crossed our minds that this would happen because when we were first releasing Eps on our own, we were just trying to like get on an inde film or something. Then all the sudden we were like “let’s try to get a song on a blog or XM radio” and then it just turned into a tour!

Do any of you have experience in the music industry prior to Knox Hamilton?
Drew: Not at this level, no. we had all played in bands and stuff but nothing like this. It’s been a huge learning experience.

What did you guys do as work before the band turned into more of a career?
Taylor: I still work in construction back home with my dad.

Do you like working with family?
Taylor: Yeah, I love hard work. It makes me feel good and feel like a man!

So if you weren’t in the band is that what you’d be doing as a dream career?
Taylor: I still have a semester left in college, I was studying oil and gas production. But I don’t know if I’ll ever finish! But my brother is a builder and my dad owns a fairly large construction business so I’ve grown up around it and that’s what I know.
Cobo: So you wouldn’t be a photographer?
Taylor: I’m an iPhone photographer, I don’t even think I could operate a normal camera! iPhones make it so easy.
Drew: If I wasn’t doing this and could just pick something, I would probably do something in like local food. Maybe working in a farmer’s market and doing that kinda stuff. Local and community based food production.
Taylor: Wait, I wanna change my answer! If I could pick it wouldn’t be construction, I’d probably work with American Pickers.

Wait, isn’t that a TV show?
Taylor: Yes, I would kill to be a picker! I would pay them to let me help.

That’s so cool! So do you like antiquing in when you go to new cities?
Taylor: Yeah, I just got this watch at an antique store and it doesn’t even work…but I got it because it’s antique and it looks cool!

We do the exact same thing!
Taylor: I have so many trinkets in a box that I will literally never put on display but they’re cool and they’re old.
Cobo: Taylor, are you a hoarder?
Taylor: No dude, it’s just a box on antique stuff I think is cool! I love estate sales too, by the way- you know, just old people who have collected stuff their entire life…RIP to them.
Cobo: I think I’ll grow wacky weed underneath Drew’s farm… just kidding. I’ve always wanted to be a musician, ever since I was a kid. I don’t think I’ve always wanted to be in a band, per say, but I’ve always wanted to do music, so I wouldn’t change anything at all.x

Did you go to school for anything?
Cobo: Yes I did, for a while. Then I got bored of it. I didn’t wanna do the whole bachelors thing so I just dropped it.
Taylor: You don’t wanna be a bachelor, Cobo?
Cobo: No dude, I love my wife!
Taylor: I would also be an archaeologist if I could.

Okay…I can see that! Do you have experience with that?
Taylor: Nope! I just think it’d be cool. To like to study and dig up these ancient civilizations from hundreds and thousands of years ago and see how people lived. And I like to get my hands dirty.
Drew: That’s kind of antiquing in itself.

It sort of combines the whole dirty construction thing and antiquing…I think maybe you should just quit the band and do that! But we definitely wouldn’t want that, so, before finishing up, if we were to make a playlist featuring your songs, what other artists would you add?
Cobo: We really love Tame Impala right now.
Taylor: The 1975, Catfish and the Bottlemen.
Drew: We always end up listening to the Strokes.
Cobo: We are friends with them, but we still love their music and that’s Colony House!

 

Thank you again to Cobo, Drew, and Taylor for having us! We are so excited for the new album and to be here for all the future Knox Hamilton successes!

Make sure to check out their EP “How’s your Mind” on iTunes and Spotify, and keep your eyes and ears peeled for the release date of their LP! Keep in touch:

Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

 

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