country

Dave Insley

Dave Insley writes and performs some of the best twang-driven country music around (If not the best). He will shake the legs of anyone who appreciates great tunes -- with the vocal charisma of Willie Nelson and George Jones, and a timeless sense of production and arrangement, in the style of Patsy Cline and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Dave Insley is a mammoth talent.

WHO ARE YOUR BIGGEST MUSICAL INFLUENCES AT THE MOMENT?

I like that the question includes the phrase “at the moment,” because like many artists, my influences change frequently, even daily. Sometimes it’s the rhythm of the washing machine or the clank of the garbage truck, sometimes it’s Buck Owens or George Gershwin on the turntable, or it might even be the theme from whatever cartoon my kids are watching on the television.

I listen to, enjoy, and draw from all styles of music, and I particularly admire the writing of Harlan Howard, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and Merle Haggard. One of my all-time biggest musical and lyrical influences was my father, who was not a songwriter, but who was very clever with words. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Buddy Rich and Tennessee Ernie Ford records, but if you ask me again in a few days, it will be something else.

WHAT IS YOUR SONGWRITING PROCESS LIKE?

My writing process is hardly unique, but (I hope) the results sometimes are. The words and music come in periodic cycles, sometimes with broad gaps of time between. My best ideas don’t really feel like they originate in me at all, but rather flow through me from somewhere else.

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My job is to be paying attention when this happens and dutifully record the proceedings; sometimes the ideas come crowding their way through my head so quickly that I have to hustle to keep up, and don’t have time to reflect on them until much later. The key which unlocks all of this might be some topic I’ve had on my mind for a while, or issue I’m struggling with, or it might simply be a chance encounter with a particular combination of words, or an unusual turn of a phrase.

Part two of the process comes later and is more deliberate and craftsman-like; parsing through the flow of words and melodic ideas to gather and organize those which fit together, in support of the idea, while maintaining a good deal of objectivity, and being a brutally honest editor. I can be very tough on myself during this phase, in the interest of avoiding self-indulgence; I will happily throw out more than I keep, or even the whole shooting match, as necessary.

The whole process is a little bit like someone dropped off a pile of lumber in my yard, and my job is to build a solid house out of it, one that is functional and will keep the rain out, and one whose overall style was suggested by the building material itself. I find the entire process immensely satisfying, regardless of what I do with the resulting composition. Oddly, the more personal the content and results, the more universally the ideas seem to be understood by others. This might be the key to turning “art into commerce.”

IF YOU HAD A CHANCE TO SEE ANY PERFORMER AT THEIR PRIME, WHO WOULD IT BE?

I would have liked to have seen Elvis at about the time of the ’68 Comeback Special. 

The Copper Tones

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The Copper Tones write music that makes a bar room jukebox smile. A modern take on old time music -- perfect tunes to peel a frosty beer label to. Grab a cold one AND SPIN THE COPPER TONES.

Who are your biggest musical influences at the moment?

Stefanie: At the moment I would say Alabama Shakes, Trampled by Turtles, Shakey Graves, and Shovels and Rope. I think those artists have a unique-ness to their sound, while staying true to the roots which is something I really strive for in my songwriting. 

Daniel: Lately I’ve been listening to Joe Satriani, The Yardbirds, ELO, Kansas, Rush, Dream Theater, and Triumph. A lot of that is pretty progressive, which I have loved that genre since I was in middle school. For whatever reason, I have been back on a real progressive kick lately.

Andy: I’ve always been influenced by jazz, punk, and metal music. My current influence would have to be The Delta Bombers. They came across my playlist and I’ve been stuck with them. There blues/country/rockabilly sound makes me want to get back into the old roots of music and bring it back again. 

Dyllan: Old and In the Way, Devil Makes Three, Greensky Bluegrass, Bob Wayne and Hank 3.

What is your songwriting process like? 

Dyllan: I usually start with a single verse and then figure out my melody. I live on a river so I go down to the water and usually the rest of the song just flows out naturally in 10 to 20 minutes. It happens very suddenly.

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Stefanie: I generally start off writing down random thoughts and construct them into lyrics. Once I have the lyrics kinda figured out, I'll go to the guitar or piano and play random chords to find a rhythm I think fits with the lyrics. Then, I usually mess with that to find a progression and melody that I like. It's a very drawn-out process for me haha but eventually it all comes together. I've always admired how quickly Dyllan writes songs. We're starting to write together now and it helps to have another set of ears. 

Daniel: For me it has always started with a riff, since I am not a singer or lyricist. When I get a really killer guitar riff, I know I can build a great song around it. From there I like to show it to the rhythm section and see what type of groove they feel off it, because a lot of times it can be different than what I imagined and that’s a nice surprise. Once the vocalist joins the process, from there I try to let the vocals dictate the flow, because even if it starts with a riff, the song will usually center around the voice if you want a great finished product.

Andy: If I ever wrote a song, I would gladly tell you my process, lol. I have pages of stuff but I could never really get a song from it.

Where do you see your music career in three years?

Stefanie: I would love for The Copper Tones to be signed to an indie label and be touring around the world, creating and recording as much as possible and connecting to people through our music. That's the dream (and hopefully the reality as well.) 

Daniel: I hope that in 3 years I am still playing as many shows as I am now, in as many places around the world as possible! It brings me great joy to spread my original music to as many people as possible, seeing new places, etc. I also love the recording process just as much. I would like to think that 3 years from now, my body of work will have grown a lot, and there will be many more studio releases, whether full length albums or whatever else. Recording music is a different experience than performing live, and to me what is special about it is that you create something you’ll have forever, and likely lasts even longer than you.

Andy: In 3 years, I would like to see my music career progress into playing more shows. Small or big act shows, as long as I’m playing and everyone is enjoying the music, I’m content.  

Dyllan: I hope I'm writing music to play in front of people that enjoy it. I don't need a lot just enough money and time to be happy and enjoy myself.