Raucous garage rockers Copperheads have — believe it or not — matured

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Copperheads with Depth & Current,
Dudes of America and Oblivious
10 p.m. Saturday
Opolis
113 N. Crawford Ave., Norman
opolis.org
447-3417
$7

Where have Copperheads been? Raucous, frenzied and completely devoid of pretense, the hard-partying rockers have been a favorite for concertgoers who love good music with a simple ethos: Let’s make music and have a good time. But since the beginning of the year, these beloved denizens of Oklahoma’s loudest stages have been mostly silent. At last, Copperheads are making a rare appearance in Norman next week, and they’re playing for a good cause.

The band has been AWOL because they’re pouring all of its energy into a follow-up to its 2012 album, Apocalyptic Behavior. They plan to enter the studio in the next couple of months, and we’ll have the chance to obsessively wear out our copies of their new cassette tape (yes, cassette tape) by the end of the year.

“Our main focus right now is getting this album done and getting it put out so everyone can hear the new jams,” guitarist Dane Kitchens said.

There’s no doubt that fans are celebrating Copperheads’ return, but their one-night-only break from voluntary sequestration has a somber purpose. Their good friend Justin Stover recently passed away, and all of the proceeds from the show will go to his parents to cover funeral costs and related expenses.

Copperheads know the importance of friendship, and it has always been a central anchor of the band. They have all been friends for 15 years, and that bond has firmly held them together since they formed in 2009.

“We’re just a tight group that decided to start playing one day,” Kitchens said.

Kitchens and bassist Jesse Sparks are cousins, so they have known each other their entire lives. Vocalist Kyle Vasquez and drummer Andy Escobar are basically family, too.

“We’re all best friends. We’re really like brothers,” Kitchens said. “We butt heads all the time; we’re not going to let that get to us. We’re just here to have fun. Once we stop having fun, we probably won’t do it anymore.”

From the outset, Copperheads were known for partying hard — after and during the show — but that custom eventually created conflict within the band.

“We’ve stopped getting super wasted at shows. We’ve come down a lot. We’ve grown up,” Kitchens said. “We’d be playing shows and forget half the songs, and that would lead to butting heads afterwards. So we decided to tone it down just a little bit, get through the show and have something to be proud of afterwards.”

In addition to Apocalyptic Behavior, Copperheads recorded two EPs: a self-titled release and Back to School. In 2011, they split a 7-inch vinyl with The Boom Bang, who found the band on MySpace (back when everyone was on MySpace) and invited them to play shows.

“I think The Boom Bang got us our first show,” Kitchens said. “They were the only ones who knew who we were at the time.”

Today, Copperheads have found their own success, something that amazes Kitchens.

“It’s crazy. We never expected that,” he said. “We’re just writing songs that sound good to us.”

He said the new album will be more melodic, more put-together. Also, listen for a new addition: Zach Flowers on keys.

“Hey, we’re not as drunk anymore. Come see us,” Kitchens said. “We won’t fall down onstage.”

Nathan Winfrey

This article was written by an Oklahoma Gazette contributor. To reach an editor, please email jchancellor@okgazette.com with this story's headline in your subject line.

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