When the globe come to a crushing hold during the pandemic early in march, musical projects and life as we knew it had to be placed on the back-burner. This was not the mentality that Brett Copeland, the protean rocker from Laurel Canyon, California, had when the beginning of a dissimilar world was beginning to set-in. Writing in a bungalow alongside Justin Smolian, the bassist for Dirty Honey, and with a festering throat infection on the rise, the unwavering singer-songwriters devoted their combined talents to create a blood-thirsty hard-rock song that plunges into its psychedelia-infused counterparts and presents kaleidoscopic, profound, and compelling in design.
Like a sinuous journey through one road-block to the next, "Ruse" stands as a testament to the resolute rock phenomenon Brett has become. Finishing the recording with an infection that stripped him of his vocal range, the adaptive intoner took measures to redefine and bend how the song rendered-up, festooning his masterpiece with a hall-mark falsetto performance that compounds with its scorching instrumental counterparts like gasoline on a well-stocked fire. Recorded in Joshua Tree, processed and refined by professionals in Brazil, and in Pioneertown, by the notoriety mixer Chad Shlosser, this song has a tumultuous rearing that reflects in the message it effortlessly defuses with each scintillating guitar riff, bombastic drum fill, and resounding lament.
Inspired by the maniacs driven by ego and the thirst for power who govern the world, "Ruse" comes intrinsically imbued with an undiminished sense of urgency. Over a blistering tempo, Brett and Justin corral their industrious instrumentals with magnetizing sonic characteristics that feel like a blend between Rush and the hyper refined mechanics of a band like Muse.
Inaugurated with a finite display of precision and mixed in with unrelenting weight behind each stroke, the drums come bouldering down on the ride-cymbal while Justin's futuristic bass-line arpeggiates at a speed that would make you think he's half-robot and half-human. As the brooding guitars accentuate every crashing anthemic uproar, Brett's unmistakable vocals stack up to form a unified top-line that works in tandem with the hyper-driven orchestration working its magic from behind. As he sings, the dynamic spaces of the mix swell and stretch in conjunction with Brett's utterly affecting performance, decrying the suit-wearing puppeteers responsible for the dismal fate of society, and bolstering the notion that there are only survivors left: "they rule the minds, lead from behind, you commit their crimes, and this time, there are no heroes - there's only survivors!"
"Ruse" is a super-charged spin into a burning anthem that gathers from the touchstones of psychedelia, and new-age rock, conferring them together like a radical sonic composition that reflects a blinding beam of adhesive orchestrations to anyone who gets close enough to relish it. When the bridge reaches you, after the guitar solo tears-up your ear-drums with its ravaging jurisdiction, it's like getting sucked into a wholly redefined world of rock music; where the drums have an endless drive, the vocals captivate the heart, the guitars burn with ardent passion and the bass-line rolls over you like a bulldozer. On "Ruse," Brett Copeland reminds us why members from Guns N Roses, Grandson, Velvet Revolver, and Billy Idol have no reservations about working with the budding L.A. rockstar.
Can you tell us about some of the emotions that led you to be inspired to write a song like "Ruse?" How did those emotions end up affecting the performances you captured when recording?
The writing process was intense and there were a lot of drastic emotions surrounding the song. The first time I heard Justin play the bass riff at my house in Laurel Canyon, I had just performed at a sold-out - at capacity event at the Troubadour. Justin came by the next day and I was still buzzing from the night before. The emotions on that day were ones of elation, joy, and excitement. And then, almost overnight, the Covid lockdowns started, and the world found itself in the grips of a terrifying global pandemic that the majority of the entire planet was terrified of. The news was peddling terror 24/7. The not knowing was terror. The conspiracy theorists' theories were terror. The emotions then were of fear and confusion.
Subsequently, not long after, I became very, very ill. I was bedridden for weeks. I was sicker than I had ever been in my life. When I felt good enough to sit up in bed, I started writing bits and pieces of lyrics and melodies to the song. At that point, the emotions were: more terror, confusion, and anger. Before Covid, I had made it a point to stop reading the news. During covid, at that time, I was glued to it. I started seeing a lot of crazy things happening around the world. Even in my inner circle - shit was getting crazy. People were getting arrested for surfing on deserted beaches. All of the trails were taped up. Civil rights were being violated arbitrarily around the world. Covid had infiltrated not only the health and emotional stability of the world's population - but it had also become a tool - a political tool that created mass hysteria, riots, protests, and a great divide in popular opinion. At that point, I had enough. My wife and I left Laurel Canyon and moved to Joshua Tree to get the f*ck away from everything. The emotions at this point were: relief, anger, confusion, and fear.
The fear was because I was still a little sick and for months I had lost my voice. I could only speak in a whisper. I feared I may have lost my voice forever. But I still wanted to finish the song and the lyrics were all completed. When I laid the first vocals down to get the ideas out - I could only sing in a soft falsetto. That's all the voice I had in me. The final emotions were excitement, clarity, and satisfaction. Ultimately, I got my voice back and I was stoked. I recorded the song again in my home studio with a full voice. Ironically, Justin suggested I keep the falsetto in the verses - and the rest was history. I feel very satisfied with the song. The emotions all found their way into my performance in a unique way because the vocal parts were sung at different times of the pandemic. It was difficult to make happen due to the lockdowns. The instrumentals were recorded remotely at Justin's apartment and his bandmate's lockouts. No studios. The vocals were done in my home studio in Joshua Tree. The mixing was done in Brazil and Pioneertown. For what technology we had at our disposal, I think we made a rad song.
What were the influences you drew from both musically and otherwise for "Ruse?" Are these inspirations and influences common-place in your musical process nowadays?
I was heavily influenced by world events. The pandemic is unlike anything most people have ever or will ever experience, so I definitely don't think the influences or inspirations are common-place. As far as musical influences, you would probably have to ask Justin Smolian. He wrote the music.
When it comes to the insanity behind "Ruse," do you feel like you've learned anything new about yourself personally as an artist?
Yes. I learned a lot. Primarily, having been so sick and not being able to sing. There was that moment when I was definitely asking myself, "It's been four months. I can still barely talk. Will I ever sing again...?" That's when I realized more than ever just how much singing means to me and what a major part of my life it is. I will never forget that.
I also learned that I may have been naive and a little blind about how world events go down.
If you could give your audience a few words that would act as the prologue to the intended experience behind "Ruse," what would you feel the need to express, and why?
I would tell them: Wake up! Be aware! Many of our leaders are no longer leaders. They are affected by "celebrities" maddened with power. They only care about their power. And they will do whatever it takes at the expense of humanity to fulfill their ego's lust for power. Listen to this song, and the lyrics, and get ready to want to break free.
What can fans anticipate to hear next from you?
I have a LOT of material being released in 2021. Including a bunch of cool covers and collaborations recorded remotely with my talented friends. Follow me on Spotify for all of my latest releases.