words by Liz | photos by Emma
Wow y’all, has it been a year already? Emma and I met and interviewed Knox Hamilton for the first time last spring and they’ve been at the top of our favorites list since! On top of making some killer jams that get you through the winter blues and right into summertime, there’s no doubt in our minds that they are some of the most genuine people you may ever come across in the music industry.
Knox Hamilton is made up of vocalist and guitarist Boots Copeland, drummer Cobo Copeland, and guitarist Drew Buffington. Their music is a sweet blend of pop-rock that will keep you dancin’ all night long. Think Phoenix, COIN, The Killers, and Walk the Moon- all smashed into a cool lil' indie band from Little Rock, Arkansas. For us, their debut The Heights quickly became a daily listen, and one of those albums where you don't want to skip past any of the songs- not even the single you been jammin' to non-stop for months on end! It's a great album to add to that certain collection of music you can count on for lifting your spirits, (we've all got one!) and we don't lie when we say you'll be reaching for the loop button as soon as the last songs finishes.
We were super excited to catch up with the guys again during the Only the Lonely Tour in Tulsa and Fayetteville while they supported Colony House, so read below and get to know Knox Hamilton a bit!
You guys have done so many cool things since last spring! Your debut album The Heights was released last month and has already become one of our favorites! We love that you decided to get fans involved and had them help out by doing teasers for each of the new songs. How did you get that idea?
Boots: I was looking at a bunch of our colleges and similar bands on similar tiers as we are. We know we aren’t very good at graphic design and didn’t wanna pay anybody to do it. We wanted ours to be different- not because we wanted to be better for anybody- but we wanted to be unique! This album was for the fans so we asked some of our long-time fans for help. It was one of those things where it made sense that they’d be the ones to help!
So cool! The band obviously has some good relationships with fans and you are extremely interactive with them, especially on social media. Does it ever get overwhelming, or do you feel pressure to live up to a certain expectation or image when meeting them?
Boots: When you answer people you don’t wanna seem too stalker-ish… ya know, somebody four minutes ago was like “Hey, we are outside!” and I don’t wanna reply back really fast and seem super weird.
Drew: We don’t wanna be too available!
That’s cool, we love bands that do that. It seems almost popular for bands to seem “too cool” for fans so they just ignore them.
Boots: Well, your original question was “is it overwhelming” but we are over here not wanting to seem too eager! We wanna seem busy! I mean we are, but when we are on tour there are four or five guys who aren’t doing anything while driving, sometimes we do have an eight hour commutes to a show to answer questions from fans or friends.
Have you guys seen anyone with Knox Hamilton tattoos yet? Hand drawn lyrics are a major trend now!
Cobo: I haven’t seen any yet but I would discourage it…like what if our second album sucks? Then they’re stuck!
Boots: It’d be an honor though, even seeing fans draw out our lyrics is awesome.
Yes! We’ve seen a ton of cool fan art since the album has been released. You had about half the songs out before the actual album release, so everyone was anticipating the rest for so long. Did you ever get to the point where you just wanted to release it and not think about it anymore?
Boots: Yeah, we just wanted to get it over with and go on tour and pay the songs live for people. We knew we had it and could always tell people that we had it and it was coming soon…then we would sound like liars and like we didn’t have our crap together! So yes, we were ready to do it like last year.
We’ve talked to you guys about writing before, but are all your songs “true stories” or have something personal behind it?
Boots: Not Washed Up Together (*LOL, good one*) but yeah, there’s always analogies or metaphors. Always a hint of nonfiction behind even the short stories.
That being said, the song The Heights was one of the first ones that really stuck out. The lyrics says “…you’re cryin’ but not because you miss me, but because I’m missing everything.” It got me thinking about how you guys are all married and close with your family, yet have this growing career in music which often seems to clash for most people in this industry. How do you balance the two?
Boots: If we got the question in a couple of years- if there’s more success that comes our way- hopefully there will be a different answer. Right now the answer is it’s so difficult doing that. Plane tickets are expensive, it’s hard to catch two off days in a row, and even when you’re home, you’re working on social media and artwork and basically everything. We are an indie band with an indie label and we do a lot of things by ourselves. So, I think right now it’s just a matter of manically and frantically trying to balance those things- like you said, in hopes that you have some comfort come your way. Pretty much my goal is for Sarah [my wife] and my kids to come [out on tour] until they don’t want to, like “Man, I wanna go home, your bus stinks!” That’s the goal! But for right now, when you’re small and up and coming, it’s a rat race. And you have to give enough attention to the fans because they’re the people who make it happen, but also you can’t neglect. I always feel like I’m neglecting one part or the other though! I mean everybody wants to be home.
Do you guys ever get advice from other bands that you see managing a growing career and family life?
Boots: Colony House is our closest example- we’ve known those dudes for a few years now and a couple have similar situations. I definitely try to pick their brains every once in a while. Me and Caleb [lead singer for CH] and Scottie [guitar for CH] will talk and I’ll get their take on the whole situation and apply some of those things.
Cobo: We adopted their rule of never going more than 21 days without seeing their spouse or loved ones.
When you guys are home, is it harder performing in front of people you know as opposed to a room full of strangers?
Boots: For me it is because it’s people who know I’m an idiot and have known me for a long time. They’re like “Dude you’re not cool onstage with a telecaster in your all black clothes. I know you’re a goober.” And also everyone’s like “What’s Cody been up to the last 3 years?” and I don’t wanna get a bunch of “…this!?” So yeah, I find it super high pressure. When we play hometown shows I don’t want there to be like 10 people there.
Your release album party in Little Rock looked poppin’ though!
Boots: The album release exceeded all my expectations!
Cobo: -and definitely Drew’s. Drew is a realist.
We know that you all were ready for the fans to have the new album, but did you ever get nervous about releasing the new music to friends/family and potential critiques? Especially if you got any negative feedback?
Boots: This is very minor, but I was just doing the math in my head and it’s totally trivial, but we released 5 songs before the album, so our album had 8 songs and I felt confident. So that was a cool boost. I never really handled bad reviews because we never really got any, but we read some and were like “This person is super unhappy.” First of all, the point of Knox Hamilton is to foster a good feeling! I don’t care if you think we are Radiohead, I’m definitely not Thom Yorke, I’m just like “Dude, you’re supposed to be happier after listening!” I’m thinking about one guy in particular. We’ve had a few bad ones, and I was telling Cobo that I get so upset and I wanna be liked. Everyone does! But, I think about how many people out there love us and you have to focus on those people. In the crowd, lately I’ve done a lot better job, but I used to just focus on those punk teenagers who look at me like “Dude, I can do that,” which they probably can, but then I look away and this chick or this dude is grooving and I wanna focus on them because that’s who this is for. You can’t let that stuff get you down.
It makes us melt hearing crowds singing all together, but what is it like for you to be onstage then look out and see all of these people singing your words back to you?
Drew: It’s the best feeling in the world.
Boots: It’s the only reaction you want- the cheering is great but everybody cheers for everybody!
Drew: Like they’re just patronizing us. But if they’re singing it means they’ve taken time to download or listen and learn. There’s always at least one or two and it means a lot.