AH-HA MOMENTS: Striking Copper debuts their first album at Waterline Brewing

When we last spoke with Striking Copper in October 2015, they were preparing to go into the studio for their first record. The folk-rock-Celtic-Americana mash-up plays harmonies led by singers Matt Donnelly (vocals, guitar), his wife Allie Donnelly (vocals) and her twin sister Jacquie Lee (vocals), alongside instrumentalists Frank Cacciutto (drums), John Stewart (bass) and Dan Bennett (electric guitar).

ALBUM RELEASE: Celebrate Striking Copper’s debut album ‘Mirror’ at Waterline Brewing on Saturday, with openers Chasing Opal. Courtesy photo.
ALBUM RELEASE: Celebrate Striking Copper’s debut album ‘Mirror’ at Waterline Brewing on Saturday, with openers Chasing Opal. Courtesy photo.

With Worth Weaver over at Red Room Recording (120 Bridle Way SE) in Leland, Striking Copper have completed their debut-record “Mirror” and will celebrate its official release on Saturday, May 28, at Waterline Brewing. “As a whole, the album allows us to expand our musical outreach,” Matt says. “The album is the culmination of a lot of hard work and hours in the practice room and recording studio.”

The release party will open with one of Wilmington’s favorite folk duos Chasing Opal, and 2 Bros Coastal Cuisine food truck will keep people fed. Striking Copper’s Matt and Allie Donnelly and Jacquie Lee took some time to tell encore more about the forthcoming album and festivities.

encore (e): Tell us about recording at Red Room and working with Worth Weaver on this record.

Matt Donnelly (MD): We had just finalized the list of songs we wanted to record, and did a pre-recording meeting with Worth to talk about the direction we wanted to take the album in. The whole process was great from start to finish. There are so many details, and so many things that go on before, during and after making a record that a lot of people don’t know about. Worth is very meticulous when it comes to getting the best sound possible from both the musician and the instruments. Working with Worth was great. [He] takes the time to really listen and give you what you want. The recording studio is great and has more gear than a guitar center.

e: What were some challenges in completing this album? Were there any “ah-ha” moments?

MD: For the most part, the instruments were laid down pretty easily. The biggest challenge we faced was trying to lay vocals down while fighting off winter illnesses. At one point Allie, Jacquie and I were sick for a month straight. We would come into the studio, hoping to lay tracks down, and it would sound terrible. Because Worth wanted the best from us, there would be times he would send us home if we weren’t close to feeling 100 percent. We heard, “OK … yeah, jump out” (of the sound room) quite a few times [laughs]. The guy pushed us and it was worth it.

Some “ah-ha” moments for us are hearing every part isolated and really being able to break our songs down. It’s really amazing how much goes into every song from each band member. A big “ah-ha” for me was realizing I had been singing a wrong note in a harmony for years.

Allie Donnelly (AD): My “ah-ha” moment was listening back to the mixes and realizing what our true sound is. Sometimes you think you sound a certain way in your head, but when listening back, you can really tell what your roots and inspirations are.

e: Tell readers more about songs like “Mirror” and why that one was chosen to be the title track.

MD: Like most of our songs, “Mirror” is a collaboration written by Allie, Jacquie and myself lyrically. We like the idea of there being two sides to everything: a good and a bad, right and wrong. Being “mirror” twins, Allie and Jacquie share some of those same qualities, but I won’t say which is which!

Jacquie Lee (JL): Having a song “Mirror” and titling the album “Mirror” is quite coincidental, really. We wanted our title to mean something to us deeply. Although the song “Mirror” is essential to our sound, it’s not the imagery we imagine when naming the album.

The song, to me, is about a man who finds faults in himself every day he looks in the mirror, sickened by the person who he’s become, and told quite often by that reflection what type of man he is. It’s about overcoming doubts and realizing that every person has faults, but that doesn’t mean every person is his or her faults.

The album title is named “Mirror” because the album is a reflection of ourselves. It’s an exact replica of our hopes, our fears, our dreams, and our experiences. And when you glimpse inside it, we hope you see a part of yourself as well.

e: We spoke about “Guilty Man” and its origins back in October; did anything change or develop while recording in the studio?

MD: We changed a few parts here and there that had been bothering us. Having Worth as another set of ears really helped. We would work out parts in the studio, or if an idea sprang up, we would run through it and then jump in and record it.

JL:  “Siren Song,” changed a bit. We knew it was missing something. We felt adding Matt in on the vocals during the chorus with a lyrical part would allow the listener to hear from both parties: the sirens and the sailors.

e: Did you try anything new instrumentally on this album?

MD: We did—there are a lot of new parts to songs that were already written. It was pretty cool to break down parts. It’s easy to see where things can be added or even find parts that don’t need to be there. Instrumentally, Dan added some really cool slide guitar to “Get On Up” and a few bending riffs in “So High.” Johnny reworked his part in “Meet The Sea,” making it sound way more drivey. There were a lot of add-ons as well, like auxiliary instruments added by Frank, like shaker and tambourine that really gave the songs some depth.

As a group we are always evolving and working on getting better, whether it’s at our instruments, songwriting, performances, or our harmonies.

e: What does the release of this album mean for you all as band, as well as personally?

MD: I think the album has been a long time coming. It feels really good to finally have some of these songs tracked. I’m proud of every song on the album, and it’s because of the people I play with that it’s finally happened.

AD: It’s an amazing feeling to create a body of music, and now be able to put our stamp on the musical world for years to come. It’s a nice thought that someday my children will be able to listen to this and know their mother was a part of creating it.

e: Is everything finalized and complete (from mastering to album art) and how many tracks are there?

MD: Everything is being wrapped up now.  It’s really amazing how much goes into the recording process. The post-production process alone is insane. There are 13-ish songs on the album [laughs] … just keep listening is all I’m going to say.

e: Any particular reason you chose to have your release party at Waterline?

AD: We had been looking for a place that had a stage and Dan suggested Waterline. We went to check it out and talked to Rob Robinson (one of the owners and all-around nice guy) and really liked it. They have a great set up and are very accommodating. Plus, it’s an awesome brewery!

e: How did you come to get Chasing Opal on board as openers?

MD: We met Chasing Opal during a Goat and Compass open-mic night last year and became really good friends with them. They are a husband-and-wife duo and are extremely talented. They also have an album coming out in June! There are so many great musicians in this town and we’re fortunate to have some of them playing with us.

e: Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about “Mirror”?

MD: We are very excited to finally release the album. A big thank you from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who donated to help fund the album, as well as friends and family who backed us the whole time. Special thanks to our sound engineers at Red Room Recording, Worth Weaver and John Harrell, for a killer album!

For more information on Striking Copper’s CD release, visit their Facebook page or http://www.strikingcopperband.com.

Striking Copper Release Party
with Chasing Opal
Saturday, May 28, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Waterline Brewing
721 Surry St.

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