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An Interview with The Receiver

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Brothers and Columbus natives Casey and Jesse Cooper launched their band The Receiver in June of 2005. Since then they’ve played more than 150 shows throughout the United States and Canada. Their second album “Length of Arms” was recorded entirely in Central Ohio and will be locally released by Vital Music Records in May. The Receiver will host a CD release party at Skully’s on May 8 with Hotel Eden and a DJ set by Kelly Warner.

I recently met with Casey and Jesse to discuss music, solitude, and the snowstorm that changed everything.

Alex: Why do you play music?

Casey: Music was always the one outlet for me that felt the most gratifying. I latched onto it at an early age and kept getting more attached to it. It can have such a positive and personal affect on so many people.

Jesse: Music has always been the most powerful force in my life. When we were young our parents played everything from Diana Ross to Led Zeppelin. We both took piano lessons and always felt that music was just as important as any other activity. It’s a privilege to be able to play and record music, and I’m thrilled by the possibility of being able to contribute to the soundtrack of someone’s life.

Alex: Is there anything unusual about the way you recorded “Length of Arms?”

Casey: I recorded most of the vocals and keyboards by myself. It’s easier for me to work alone because I’m more comfortable that way — and I’m more creative when I’m comfortable.

Jesse: We spent a lot more time on this album than we did with the last one. We wanted to be a part of the whole process from pre-production and recording to post-production and mixing. This was our first time working with Mike Landolt, our co-producer and mixer. He played a vital part in the way that everything was presented.

Alex: Does it feature any special instruments?

Casey: Instead of using traditional orchestral instruments (except for the acoustic piano parts) I created unique synth sounds and layered them in order to emulate orchestra-like textures.

Alex: What song on this album was the most difficult to write?

Casey: The last song for the record is called “Hide.” I struggled with its lyrics and structure for months. I couldn’t figure out what I was trying to say. I recorded the basic piano part, experimented with some synth sounds, and made it an instrumental-only piece. I finally realized that it conveyed everything I wanted it to without using a single word.

Alex: What’s your favorite lyric in it?

Casey: My favorite line is “I try to look past mirrors, shifting weight and dreaming, in hope to view what blind men see.” Sometimes it’s hard for me to get out of my head when I’m consumed with a new idea. The more I work with other musicians the more I realize that I’m not alone. It’s good to live in my little universe in small doses, but I’ve learned that it can create a negative effect on other people.

Alex: How did this album help you evolve?

Casey: It was a huge leap forward for us because we put more thought into the song structures, arrangements, and lyrics. We wanted to create something that was unique but easy to listen to. This album has a lot of layers to peel off so that you’ll always hear something new. We wanted to make it active without being overwhelming.

Alex: What was your favorite part about making it?

Casey: The whole process was completely open-ended. I spent countless nights making changes and trying different song structures. We actually kept a lot of the sounds I recorded during pre-production since they worked well the way they were. I went to the studio after work one Friday night and Columbus got hit really hard with a snowstorm. I was snowed in and couldn’t leave until Sunday, so I made the best of it and recorded 90% of the keyboard sounds for the song “Strength in Numbers.” That song really captured the synth-orchestral sounds I was aiming for and became a catalyst for the textures on the rest of the record. Being trapped in a fully functional studio with no distractions and no option to leave was really worth it. It was one of the best weekends of my life.

For more information visit thereceivermusic.com.

Alexandra Kelley does freelance writing, marketing, and public relations and can be reached at alexandra477.com.

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  • dru

    i look forward to album #2

  • Can’t wait to release it!

  • vuch

    checked out the preview mix on myspace… awesome.  and hotel eden is a perfect fit for the show!

  • Nice interview, Alex! :D

  • i’ve heard quite a few of the tracks from this album, and it is simply: awesome! i really like the sound of the receiver. it’s a very dreamy kind of pop sound that i’d rather not compare to other acts. they do remind me of some other artists that i really, really like, but i don’t want to add anything that might pigeonhole them here. i will say that, for a two-piece band, they sound huge! i first heard them at comfest 2009, just a few weeks ago, and they blew me away. i can’t wait for the next show.

    great interview, alexandra. i definitely had some of the same questions.

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