Oklahoma City-based indie alt-rock band photocopy recently released their newest single “Only Concern” ahead of joining Heart Attack Man’s North American tour. The group, a six-piece consisting of Grant Potter (guitar), Johnny Kerr (vox, synth), Ray Morgan (drums), Karson Wooden (guitar), Austin Taylor (bass), and Samia Massad (vox, synth), got their start as a duo looking to create something worthwhile during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Following the release of their debut album, SHELLS (YOU CAN), at the beginning of this year, the now larger group is ready to embrace their audience with a highly stylized new sound.
“Only Concern,” released April 2nd, is the 80s movie soundtrack staple for the 2020s. Following suit with prior releases from the group, namely “Tired” and “Same as Me” from their latest album, this new single leads with heavy synth and deep, melodic swells throughout the track. The song has an incredible take on New Wave pop music while still maintaining a modern quality throughout, easily falling in line with timeless hits like “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears or “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds.
What sets it apart from traditional New Wave, however, is the breakdown of the bridge. Taking the lyric “I just wanna be happy now,” turning it into the song’s refrain, and having that act as the backbone of the track throughout its conclusion offers this sense of unraveling that shouldn’t work in a song like this. However, everything that seems chaotic or thrown together to resemble the DIY-ness of early New Wave music actually enhances the creative nature of the song’s construction.
I was lucky enough to get to chat with photocopy on the release of “Only Concern” and their upcoming tour:
Tell me about the process behind creating “Only Concern.”
Only Concern was written at our bass player’s house when we were practicing; we were jamming different riffs/melodies and the intro you hear is pretty true to what we played through the first few runs of writing it. From there we were able to get a good structure with riffs and different melodies to take home and sit on, and at the next few practices, we were able to nail it down. We got the tour offer from Heart Attack Man in January, and with the tour in mind, we knew we had a fairly quick turnaround to write and record to promote ourselves. Getting six people to find time to write songs together in between playing shows, work, etc., is a tough ask in only a couple of months, so in the future, the writing process will probably be much more intentional, but I am very proud with how this song and the other two upcoming ones turned out.
“Only Concern” has a really great 80s New Wave sound to it. What were some of your influences when writing the music, and how did the final product deviate from your first few passes?
Honestly, there aren’t really any clear influences that I can think of for this song, since like I said the writing process was mostly off the cuff. In general, we all pull influences from different pockets – some of our best friends in the OKC world are in the emo/midwest emo scene and I’d like to think that shows sometimes, but it probably doesn’t. I think I was listening to The Killers a lot around this time which would definitely make more sense, but when you incorporate a synth and a lower register into the songwriting looking for influences becomes pretty limited, like it pretty much just is new wave and early post-punk and then the early 2000’s bands that were influenced by it that I’m familiar with. I love Interpol a lot, I want to start writing melodies some like they do I think. As a band, the one band we seem to all really like is Title Fight but that might be beside the point. Personally, my favorite ever is LCD Soundsystem and James Murphy’s stage presence and lyrics are a big influence to me whether it shows or not. Anyway, the final project doesn’t really deviate much at all from when we were able to get the first few passes done. The chorus melody is different for sure, and then in the studio, we made the outro much bigger than it originally was, but that is about it.
Where does this new single stand out against your previous work?
This single is the first one released with a full lineup, all of whom wrote and recorded their own parts. When we recorded our last EP it was a 3-man lineup with a lot of ideas just being thrown around in text and put together when hanging out. Before that, it was a duo pandemic project of sorts and there were even fewer expectations that anyone would listen and knowledge about how songs were written, taken to the studio, etc; a lot of the songs started as GarageBand demos with some of the same stems and synth sounds being utilized from the start. There was a lot of freedom then to let our producer in on the writing process and try to make things sound interesting with studio magic and really to do whatever. This is definitely a more concentrated effort and I think a precursor, along with the other two EPs in tandem, for whatever the next project could be – it could sound much different but as we get more comfortable playing together and fleshing out who we are as a band I do get excited about what we can do when we devote a
good amount of time to a sound and aesthetic that plays into all of our strengths.
How did your upcoming tour with Heart Attack Man come to be?
In a nutshell, one of our fans from Tulsa, Tyler (@djspookyty on Twitter, SHOUTOUT TYLER!!), who is also a massive Heart Attack Man fan is the one who put them on to us, and from there Eric from HAM checked us out and decided to give us a shot. If that sounds made up then we’re on the same page, at the time we only had a few thousand listeners and had been playing together for maybe six months with no out-of-state shows under our belt. We realize it is a pretty insane opportunity, for lack of a better word, and we definitely are not taking it for granted. We don’t know exactly what will come of this tour, but to be able to tour the US in full and meet countless unique and fun people in cities I have never been in is an experience much cooler and further down the musician pipeline than I ever expected to get when I started doing this, so at face value, I am already very happy. We weren’t sure what Eric saw in us compared to hundreds of other bands who would have gladly taken this offer, but we certainly were not going to question it. The whole process has been very validating and humbling, and it really does feel like it’ll be the start of something new and great for us as musicians and as friends.
What’s next for you?
Good question – there is a lot we want to do but until we have time to focus on it things will be kind of fuzzy. We want to do an album – like a “Capital A” debut Album that we can really make an entrance with. We haven’t had time to breathe and make music to our fullest potential yet I don’t think, and like I said even though I am very proud of how all of our songs so far have come out and how they illustrate a crazy bigger picture, I think they can definitely be seen as a precursor for something bigger and better. Other than that, nothing all that exciting. Work, finishing school, figuring stuff out, and all. I’ve learned at this point though that anything can change in a matter of days, so maybe what’s next is something not on our radar at all, or maybe we split because of creative differences and start a bunch of side projects where we kind of backhandedly reference each other. I don’t know.
“Only Concern” is available to stream now!The tour with Heart Attack Man kicks off on May 25 in Detroit, Michigan and continues through July 2 in Cleveland, Ohio. Find more info and tickets here.