For Angelo Coppola, Michigan’s coronavirus quarantine feels more like a creative sabbatical.
The Detroit alt rock singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist dropped a new banger six-track EP, The Quarantine Sessions, Vol. 1, last week to satisfy growing Motor City cravings for additional releases in world currently without “traditional” live music.
“I’m kind of like a songwriting machine, I just can’t stop, and I have way more songs written than I’m able to put out, or I’m able to play with The Lows. I have this back catalog of 30 to 40 finished songs. All six of these are from the past year or so, but they’ve all been developed over time,” said Coppola, who’s also the frontman for The Lows.
“I thought these were the best of the bunch and didn’t know if The Lows would ever play them, but I just wanted to get something out. I’ve had the time now being home with my dad because he helps produce and mix it, and I can finally get a lot of these songs recorded and out that I didn’t have time for before.”
Throughout The Quarantine Sessions, Coppola seeks tantalizing ‘90s alt rock inspiration from genre-heavy royalty, including Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots and Oasis. A seamless head-banging fusion of aggressive vocals, distorted electric guitars, charging bass and pounding drums immerse listeners in a grungy underworld.
“All six are a wide variety of genres within the rock genre, and I wanted to spread out the styles on the album. It was kind of random the ones we decided to start, and we have eight more that we started, and that I’m going to put out,” Coppola said.
“We’re going to do The Quarantine Sessions, Vol. 2 for sure in the next couple of weeks. It only took us a week to get all six of these done. It was basically like a song a day working down there, and we’re gonna grind out some more, too.”
Tracking ‘The Quarantine Sessions’
Coppola opens The Quarantine Sessions with “We Are One,” a vibrant, unifying alt-psych rock theme song for society’s collective seclusion amidst the pandemic. It melds fuzzy electric guitars, thumping drums and charging bass with Foos-like grinding instrumentation while Coppola adds Alice in Chains-esque throaty harmonies, “I wrote these songs for everyone/Yeah, we are one/Living on the run/Yeah, it’s no fun/It has begun.”
The track also features a fun, trippy Grohl-inspired video with Coppola playing all the parts – “Angelo Coppola” (lead vocals, guitar), “Timmy Kage” (guitar), “Phil Slyman” (bass) and “Ritchie Budd” (drums) – in his new “quarantine” band, The AngeLows. Being in quarantine hasn’t stopped Coppola from demonstrating his quirky, energetic sense of showmanship in the online world.
“Trying to keep plugging away and releasing some kind of content every day since it looks like performing live won’t be a thing anytime soon,” Coppola wrote Friday on Facebook. “This video and song are a product of something that wasn’t even started before all of this madness began.”
Coppola continues to demonstrate his musical prowess on “Somewhere New,” a haunting, mystical track filled with thunderous drums, sorrowful electric guitar and thoughtful bass. Each part of it soars and glistens as Coppola sings, “Something lasts forever/We gotta keep it up this time/But you can live again, yeah/Find a resolution when your heart is filled with sand/But you will live again.”
“When I write, it’s just me on an acoustic guitar and vocals, and I can hear the full image of the song in my head, but until I can record it and play every instrument and get it down, that’s when it usually comes into shape,” Coppola said.
“There are lyrics in these songs and the ones that I’ll be putting out that I changed up to relate more to how I’m feeling now and everything that’s going on. I did the other night start writing new stuff because I’m finally getting the old stuff out, so it kind of frees up some space in my brain.”
Another stellar track includes the frenzied “Too Late” with roaring electric guitars, crashing cymbals, rolling drums and a wailing tornado siren as Coppola screams, “Baby I can’t tell/You’re full of yourself/I try to spread the wealth/I’ll see you in hell/I wish you felt like I always felt/Come and cast your spell.” It’s a thrashing alt rock joyride for Foos and Stone Temple Pilot aficionados.
That alt rock Quarantine Sessions joyride can be attributed to Coppola’s strong creative partnership with father Joe Coppola. The two spend countless hours recording, producing and mixing projects for Coppola’s guitar-driven original tracks and the duo’s stripped-down piano covers of Oasis’ soaring 1994 hit, “Supersonic,” and The Black Crowes’ enduring 1990 ballad, “She Talks to Angels.”
“It’s always fun collaborating with him and getting his input on songwriting stuff. He always has a very good ear for vocal harmonies, so he’s always helping me pick those out. He’s got a great ear for mixing drums, guitar tones, bass tones and effects on the vocals,” said Coppola, who’s also planning to release an album of piano covers with his father soon.
An Alt Rock Star is Born
Coppola developed an ear for rock music while growing up in Macomb and started playing drums at age three. Four years later, he won a contest at age seven while playing KISS songs on the former “America’s Most Talented Kid” TV show.
By high school, Coppola developed a lingering obsession with ‘90s alt rock and grunge heroes Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam and The Smashing Pumpkins. After teaching himself guitar and learning how to write songs, he played drums in a band called Shockwave and later attended the Detroit Institute of Music Education (DIME).
In 2017, Coppola formed his latest project, The Lows, with Nick Behnan (guitar), Johnny “Wolf” Abel (bass), Brandon McNall (guitar) and Duane Hewins (drums). The hard rock quintet released their critically-acclaimed, self-titled debut EP and shared the stage with Sponge, Candlebox, Puddle of Muddle, Stone Temple Pilots and Pop Evil.
Last year, they dropped two grunge-infused singles, the fiery alt rock anthem, “Love Xtinction” and the uplifting, compassionate ode, “Love Will Find A Way,” dubbed as The Love Sessions EP. Before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered Michigan doors, The Lows had planned to enter the studio with DIME’s Elise McCoy to record a five-track EP at the end of April.
“Nick Behnan and I wrote some great songs that are gonna be on the next Lows project. That’s going to be pushed back a bit now, but most of the new Lows songs need to go through a band process to become what they are,” Coppola said.