Stepping into the Spotlight with Stephie Coplan & the Pedestrians

, Staff

Every week we like to spotlight a rising band from outside of New England. Today, we get to know New York’s Stephie Coplan & the Pedestrians. You can catch the band in Boston when they play Toad on Saturday, September 3 and at Precinct on Sunday, September 4.

Band Name: Stephie Coplan & the Pedestrians

Band Members:
Stephie Coplan: Piano, Vocals (Somerville, MA)
John Hebert: Bass, Vocals (New York, NY)
Shane Considine: Drums (Winthrop, MA)

Debut EP due Fall 2011


How did you form/start?

We met on No, just kidding. Actually, kind of, though. I had been playing as a soloist in Boston since September 2009, and then moved to Hoboken, New Jersey last summer. When I got there, I was immediately offered a development deal by an indie label run by a producer who had worked with Beyonce, Shakira and Jason Mraz. So basically, my peers. I was excited about it until my lawyer made me realize how crappy the deal was and then things with the label fell apart. I initially took it as sort of a sign that I wasn’t meant to have a career as a musician. But after a few weeks of not playing, I became so miserable that I knew my knee-jerk reaction had been wrong. I had an epiphany – music or bust. The next day, I posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a bassist and drummer, and John and Shane responded. We instantly clicked – both musically and personally-  and have been punishing New York City and parts of New Jersey with face-melting piano rock ever since.

Finish the sentence, someone would like your band if they like…

…Fountains of Wayne, Ben Folds Five, Billy Joel, Randy Newman, or Regina Spektor. I like to tell stories in my songs, so the people who probably get the most out of our music are people who like listening to lyrics.

What song of yours should people listen to first and why?

I think “Take Me Back to the Suburbs” does a really good job of summing up my style as an artist. I’m pretty sure I whipped out all of my signature moves in it: a jazz piano riff, some SAT words, a few laughs, a few songwriter observations.

Walk us through your songwriting process.

It’s slightly different each time, but the music always comes first, and I always have to be at my piano. I know some people who write in coffee shops or on the bus and I’m always amazed. Lyrically, my songs either begin with wordplay or with a theme. For instance, “heartbroken in Hoboken / wish I were jokin'” was something I thought of long before I even knew what “Heartbroken in Hoboken” would be about, whereas I knew I was going to write a song about how much I hate flying before I wrote the lyrics to “Flight 413”.

Tell us a little bit about your latest album.

Our upcoming debut album is the culmination of about six months’ worth of work with our producer Ben Gebert, and about a year’s worth of writing. I initially set out to make this album as a soloist in 2009, and then again in 2010. I’m glad I waited, because I think my songwriting has gotten better as I’ve gone through more significant life experiences. This is confirmed every time I post a new song on YouTube and someone invariably tells me that I’ve “really improved”. (Thanks! Hey, wait a minute…) The songs that would have appeared on my album even a year ago are already so outdated that I’m not sure I still remember know how to play them. I wrote my first song when I was 15, but unless you’re Justin Bieber, it takes a long time to find your stride.

What has your most memorable moment as a band been?

It’s been a helluva five months, but I think our best band memory is going to Quad Studios in Greenwood Lake, New York to record our album. We left the city on my birthday and drove with our producer to a secluded cabin on the lake for a weekend to record our live instruments – piano, bass, drums and a Hammond B3 organ (woah). We became better musicians that weekend. We also learned a lot about ourselves and our changing bodies, or was it a valuable lesson on life, love, and friendship? I can’t remember. I do remember that Shane snores really loudly, though. John and I had to download white noise apps on our phones to drown him out. Bass players – am I right?

What has been the hardest part of building your name onto the national level?

So far, it’s been getting people to listen to our music without any recordings, which sounds more like a Zen mind puzzle than a serious strategy. I think once our music is out there, it’ll be difficult to figure out what “box” or “scene” we should try to be a part of. We’re just left-of-center of mainstream pop/rock, so it’ll be up to the masses to decide if we end up in “commercial purgatory” as Adam Schlesinger from Fountains of Wayne put it.

Who are the best bands from your hometown that we might not know about?

Even though I live in Hoboken now, my musical roots are in the Cambridge/Somerville music scene. I used to love going out to hear local music when I lived there. Some of my favorites are Will Dailey, Christian McNeill, Emily Hulslander (who lives in New York now but performed in Boston as a songwriter while she attended Berklee), Travis Lund, The And Company and the Baker Thomas Band.

What band would you most like to open for?

Oof, this is a tough one. Maybe Taylor Swift, since we’d get to play in front of twenty million people. Also, I want to have a sleepover with her and talk about boys.

Who is your all-time favorite Boston band?

Boston! I wept for days when Brad Delp died a few years ago. I wore my Boston t-shirt last night and as I walked home in the rain, this hot bouncer on the sidewalk was like, “nice shirt”. So not only is Boston awesome, but they make hot people pay attention to you!

What are your thoughts on playing Boston?

We are so excited to play our first shows in Boston this weekend. Shane and I are natives, so we’re looking forward to introducing John to Boloco. When I was a soloist in Boston, I got the impression that Boston proper is where you go to see Journey cover bands, and Somerville/Cambridge/Jamaica Plain is where you go to see singer/songwriters. Not passing any judgment but I love that there’s something for everyone, depending on their taste.

What can people expect from your live show and why should our readers catch your next stop in Boston?

Our next show in Boston is at Toad on September 3 at 7:30, and then we’re doing an encore show at Precinct the next night opening for our friends, the Sea Monsters. And then we disappear back to New York as mysteriously as we came. We don’t have a guitarist in our band, so our live shows are very piano-heavy and emphasize our lyrics and technical chops. You should come to our next show because Toad doesn’t charge a cover. And we’re debuting some new songs. And we’re from New York, so this is your last chance to see us for at least a few months! That’s enough reasons, right?


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