2012 Q. and A. with Bryan Copeland
1) Bryan, what exactly is this music called that you compose and
perform with Bryan and the Aardvarks. Is it jazz?
The music I compose for the Aardvarks has proven to be difficult to
categorize. Jazz purists, will be quick to tell you it's not jazz,
and indie rock people will give it a default label of jazz. Truth is,
it is a mixture of everything that has had a profound and lasting
effect on my subconscious. Whether the medium is music, film, a piece
of artwork, literature, personal relationships, etc..., anything that
moves me in a powerful way, tends to stick in my brain and become an
influence on my compositions. I think the things that have influenced
this project most would be; The sudden death of my 28 year-old best
friend Daniel Gilmer, the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,
Jon Brion, Brad Mehldau's Trio, Wes Anderson movies, The Brian Blade
Fellowship, Elliot Smith, Nick Drake, Frederic Chopin, & Erik Satie to
name a few.
2) Unlike a lot of folks that perform at Sidewalk Cafe and perhpas
read stuff on this site, you are a graduate of a music school and
pretty highly trained.
What is your opinion of the unschooled musician's you have met and
played with and in what ways does your schooling help and/or hinder
you (if it does either)?
The thing that inspires me most in life, is when someone has this
insatiable desire to express their inner most feelings, through their
art, with the utmost sincerity, honesty, and uncompromising artistic
integrity. People who are willing to put everything they have into
it, and risk the possibility of walking away with nothing, because it
is that important to them. I feel like all of the people I perform
with at the Sidewalk, possess this desire. The only thing that I was
interested in obtaining from music school, was learning as much I
could about music theory, so I could extract these feelings that where
driving me crazy. I feel like it has helped me immensely, and I
continue to learn more every day.
3) You have played upright bass as an accompanist for myself, Toby
Goodshank, Major Matt Mason USA, a Daniel Bernstein band, and maybe
some others I am not aware of.
What has that been like for you and did you do that before you moved to NYC?
I love performing with you, Toby Goodshank, Major Matt Mason USA, and
Daniel Bernstein. I have learned so much about making my music a
personal reflection of who I am. When I first performed with you
guys, it hit me like a ton of bricks, that was the main thing that I
wanted to make my music about. I am absolutely crazy about Toby's
music! I played all kinds of music growing up in Texas; country,
singer/songwriter, rock-a-billy, heavy metal, hip-hop, classical, and
4) Who are the main players in the Aardvarks and how did you meet them?
The main players in the Aardvarks are Fabian Almazan on piano/keys,
Chris Dingman on vibraphone, myself on contra bass, and Joe Nero on
drums. Fabian and Joe were the first people I played with when I
moved to New York. They where going to Manhattan School of Music,
with a friend of mine from Texas, Jacob Rodriguez. They had a 6 piece
band. We used to play in Philadelphia a lot. The band kind of
dissipated, but we three kept playing a lot. Fabian invited Chris to
a jam session at Joe's apartment, and I just fell in love with his
playing. Barry, you invited us to play our first gig. It was at the
Sidewalk Cafe. You asked me what the name of my band was, and Bryan
and the Aardvarks just popped in my head. I lived in Lubbock, TX.
when I was a boy and I loved Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and Buck
Owens and the Buckaroos. Plus, I was a cartoon junkie, and my
favorite cartoon was The Ant and The Aardvark, from the Pink Panther
Cartoon. Somehow that just manifested itself in my subconscious.
5) Do you have any goals regarding the Aardvarks and any other
projects you may be involved with?
I have a ton of goals for the Aardvarks. I guess my main goal is
being able to tour the world and make enough money to support
ourselves. Being able to combine music and world travel, would be a
dream come true. I would love to make film scores with this group.
My most immediate goals are having a successful show at the Jazz
Gallery on Thursday, October 18th, and recording a new CD in the
6) How'd you get a gig at The Jazz Gallery? (They perform 2 sets on
Thursday, October 18th--see website for details.
I got the gig at the Jazz Gallery through a number of ways. I
emailed them about 100 times. Also, Fabian and Chris play there quite
often, and the have a great standing there.
7) Has living in NYC been dissapointing in any ways?
Overall, I am very excited to be living in New York. It is a
blessing getting to play with so many wonderful musicians all the
time. Meeting Fabian, Chris, and Joe, and sharing this music with
them, has made my life richer in so many ways. Sometimes, I miss the
easy going, peaceful lifestyle of Austin. There are definitely things
that drive me crazy about this place too, but I wouldn't trade what I
have here for anything.
8) Any last thoughts or suggestions to newbies?
I want everyone to know that this project is the most important
musical endeavor of my life. It means so much to me to see support
from my friends and family. I have never forgotten a single person
who has ever gone to one of our show's. I really appreciate any form
of support I can get from anyone to help this thing to continue to
grow. This show at the Jazz Gallery on Thursday, October 18th is
going to be really special, and I will love you forever, if you can