Growing fangs

Oklahoma City’s The Copperheads have dozens of crazy shows under their belt, but they aren’t usually directly involved in the chaos.

They aren’t necessarily wooden performers, but are far from the most animated. They usually take the stage — perhaps with cigarettes curled in their lips, beers on the amps — plug in and play with no frills attached. Despite the somewhat stoic stage presence, the crowd nearly always goes wild, dancing and moshing, drinking and hollering, generally having the time of their lives.

The fun fails to stop at the last note; a night with The Copperheads is as much about the after-party as it is about the show.

“I guess we have a little bit of a reputation,” guitarist Dane Kitchens said. “That’s pretty much what music is for, though: the party afterwards. We always like to have a good time, hang out with our friends, watch other bands play and drink a little bit. Then we just continue that fun later.”

The Copperheads are quickly transforming from hard-partying slackers to up-and-comers; the band was never treated as a joke, but peg a lack of self-confidence — and a dash of practicality — to the four-piece not being as aggressive about pursuing shows and the like.

“We weren’t taking it very seriously,” Kitchens said. “Honestly, we felt like we were never going to be huge, so why not just have a good time? Even still, that’s what it’s about, but we are doing things bigger than we ever thought we would.”

Finding a sound has helped The Copperheads become all the more dangerous. Discovering the now-defunct blues-punk group The Gun Club sparked a shift from roaring riffs to a sweaty, blues-rock undercurrent that recalls The Black Lips and Ty Segall. The new skin suits them better.

“I don’t think we were consciously trying to pull the blues card, but garage rock was based around the blues. I think it’s just becoming a by-product of our interest in that,” Kitchens said. “That rawness, the swagger … it’s kind of impossible not to want to replicate.”

Songs in that vein will find their way onto an upcoming, split-vinyl 7-inch with buddy band The Boom Bang within the year, with another record shortly thereafter. The vinyl release is a dream come true for Kitchens and crew.

“I listen to vinyl all the time, and music like this, it just feels a lot more real on vinyl,” he said. “I would have never thought we’d get to hold something we did in our hands like we will with this.”

For now, The Copperheads await Saturday’s show at The Conservatory. Things are certainly getting bigger and better, and they plan on acknowledging that. “It’s awesome that we’ve been getting shows like this,” he said. “We’ll definitely be celebrating afterwards.”

Photo by Doug Schwarz

Joshua Boydston

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