- The Peachbones
The Peachbones are a band based out of Ashland, Ohio.
The Early Days (1994-1997)
"The Peachbones" formed in
1994, in Ashland, Ohioby Ron Copenhaver, Matt Hoover, and Donne Copenhaver. Matthew Hoover met Ron Copenhaver's guitar before he met Ron Copenhaver. It was fall semester 1994 at Ashland University, in the triple on the second floor of Jacobs Hall. Occupying this now-infamous room at that time was Andy Taray, Mike Pranksovich, and the late Ryan Rudd (1976-2007). Visiting that room one day was Matthew Hoover, a long-time friend of Rudd. Hoover saw the guitar and asked who it belonged to. Then, without asking, he picked it up and began playing. Hoover had just started to play the guitar at that time. Fast forward to the first day of French 101, and Hoover found himself sitting next to a guy wearing a Pearl Jam t-shirt, cut-off shorts, and black boots. That guy was Ron Copenhaver. Hoover would later recall, "I remember sitting there thinking, 'This guy looks pretty cool. I wonder if he plays any instruments.' I would find out later that day that the guitar I was playing in Jacobs was his." Ron and Matthew would officially meet later that week through Andy Taray and a soon-to-be good friend Phil Mozolak. Matthew asked, "Are you interested in forming a band? I play the drums." Ron replied, "Sure. But, dude, I've got a drummer already. He's my twin brother and he's a monster."
Ron and Matthew began playing together and soon after began writing their own material together. Through a circle of friends, later solidified as "The Crew" the other players in the band would meet. Enter singer Deanna Welch and bassist Ryan Johanssen. In spring semester 1995, the band played their first-ever show at a coffeehouse called Grumpy's. The band played about half covers, half originals. One week after the Grumpy's performance, the band, called Myopia at that time, played AU's Spring Fest. The beginnings of a rock band was underway. The band blended various styles and ended up sounding like a My Bloody Valentine meets Versus-era Pearl Jam.
The following year found Deanna Welch leaving the band to pursue theatre productions. Having had some formal vocal training, Matthew stepped up to the plate as the new singer. With more original material being produced, and with Welch out, the band changed their name to Mad River. That lasted until they realized that name was already in use. The band decided on Uncle Cedric as the new name. After recording a full-length album's worth of original material, Uncle Cedric began playing shows on AU's campus and in local bars in the Ashland/Mansfield area. Generating a huge following, the band continued to play through the 1996 and 1997 school year. The band would rehearse in Matthew and Ron's room on the second floor of Jacobs Hall. The band proudly boasts that AU now has a new rule in their dorm manual: No Rock Band Rehearsals! With everyone except Ron leaving AU after (due to graduating a year before Ron), drummer Donne Copenhaver (graduated from Muskingum College in 1997) moved to Canada, and Hoover moved to Indiana. Needless to say, the band called it quits for a while. They played one last show together at AU Spring Fest in 1997. Hoover and Ron stayed in touch while Ron finished his last year at AU. Soon, discussions of continuing the band dominated conversation.
"The Dark Years" (1997-1999)
Ron Copenhaver spent his last year at Ashland University virtually alone. His brother Donne was now in Canada, Hoover was in Indiana, and communications with Johanssen had all but ceased. Ron filled his time with studying and running on AU's track team. He did not stop playing the guitar, and remained close with Donne and Hoover. To satisfy his musical jones, Ron teamed up with piano genius Charly Sommers. In the spring of 1998, just weeks before Hoover, Ron, and friend Phil Mozolak would walk in the graduation ceremony, the band got together for the annual Spring Fest at AU. This time, however, they would play with newcomer bassist Vern Miller, who the band met through Sommers. The guys had started to add a bit of the horribly titled "alt country" feel to the music. This would be a sign of things to come.
The Spring Fest performance went so well that the guys began a serious discussion about pursuing music after college. Donne soon moved back to the States from Canada, Hoover found himself abruptly back in Ohio, and Sommers and Miller were on board. Ron, Donne, and Hoover decided to stay in Ashland. Says Donne, "We wanted to start playing in bigger cities. So rather than moving to Columbus or Cleveland, we decided to split the difference. Ashland is the half-way point between both cities." The band began writing new material with Miller and Sommers. Ron was on the phone weekly to the prestigious Columbus venue Little Brother's trying to land that first gig. A first show opportunity opened up at Annabell's in Akron, Ohio. But before any shows could happen, the band desired another change: their name. Sitting in the living room of their apartment in Ashland, the guys searched for a name. Innocently, Hoover brought in a tackle box full of pocket knives that he and his late grandfather had made when he was a child. Hoover said, "Hey guys, come look at this old peach bone knife my grandfather and I made." Everyone stopped what they were doing, looked at each other and said, "That's it!" The guys decided on The Peachbones as their new name. "Don and I had done the same thing with our grandfather too. We had a huge collection of pocket knives as kids as well, so we though, 'Why not?' The Peachbones is as good a name as any that we could come up with." With a new demo tape (courtesy of friend Sean Beal), with a new name, and a renewed sense of direction, the band landed an opening slot for Columbus icon Tim Easton and the famous Bernie's Distillery on Columbus' High Street in December 1999. After nearly a full year of no performances, the band rehearsed weekly and developed what Columbus media called The Best Live Band of 1999. The Peachbones were here to stay.
"Big, Ohio Era" (1999-2003)
Between 1999 and 2002, The Peachbones wrote and recorded what would become their debut album" Big, Ohio". The band paid for the album from money earned by playing live shows around the state of Ohio. The band earned a reputation in Columbus for having a fierce live show, smashing guitars, breaking drum kits, and being loud. Dubbed now as a "cow punk" band, The Peachbones recorded "Big, Ohio" at John Schwab Recording in Columbus, working with engineers Jason White and the coveted Joe Viers. "It took us a while to record the record because we didn't really use any outside sources for revenue for the band. A friend of the band offered to lend us the $1,500 for the pressing, but other than that all of the money--every last cent--came from the money we'd get playing shows." Whether it was a $20 night from Little Brother's or a $200 night from Oldfield's, The Peachbones saved up and bought blocks of studio time. Two years later, "Big, Ohio" was ready. Remember Andy Taray from "The Early Days?" Well, he was working for a graphic design firm in lower Manhattan at the time. He offered his creativity for the artwork. A close friend of the band, Richard Ulm, provided photography and Phil Mozolak chipped in by designing the inside layout. $5,000 and nearly two years after their first show in Columbus, The Peachbones released "Big, Ohio" in May 2002. Pressing only 500 copies, The Peachbones had paid back their "loan" inside of three months. The band had sold out of "Big, Ohio" copies about one year after it's release date.
Shortly after "Big, Ohio" was released, The Peachbones nearly split up for good. After "Big, Ohio" had run its course, the band was in jeopardy for short time. "I think it's something every band goes through at some point. But we decided that, at this point, the band was bigger than any one individual. We had some hard conversations filled with brutal honesty. But that's what we needed at the time. We walked away from it as better friends and as a better band," says Hoover. "It was definitely something we needed to do. We finally said a lot of things we were keeping in. But, like Matthew said, our communication as a band and as friends has improved so much since then," adds Donne.
2003 would mark a year of drastic change for the band. After several months of conflict with bassist Vern Miller, Vern and the band decided it would be best for him to move on to other things. Enter Andrew Ditlevson. The band new Andrew from Ron and Don's side-project band The Real California. Andrew played guitar in that band. The Peachbones had made a living off of in-your-face "cow punk," a blend of old-school Johnny Cash and The Who. Tracks like "Johnny Law" and "Blue-eyed Woman" were staples of the live show. The Peachbones also brought new life into some cover songs such as "Effigy" and "Folsom Prison Blues." But the band privately worried that it was becoming predictable and that fans would expect them to remain in the same musical genre. The departure of Miller and emergence of Andrew Ditlevson was exactly what the band needed to move in other creative directions. "Andrew coming aboard was the best thing for the band. It allowed us to move beyond the 'alt country' or 'roots rock' stylings and start making more interesting music," says Ron. The band had admittedly become bored of the so-called "cow punk" label and soon began writing what would become "Revenant". Says Hoover, "The song that really brought us out of the roots rock genre was Call Back." Structurally, the song is simple: just two chords. But The Peachbones showed a new side of the creativity and vision. It opened the door for other possibilities. "Before, we'd have songs that just wouldn't work with the rootsy stuff we were doing. But now we're at a place where we want to keep growing as a band and continually push ourselves to become better, to be more creative, and just let the music take us where it wants us to go." Ron continues, "Big, Ohio" is an OK record overall. There are some great moments on there, and I think one of our best songs, the title track, is on that record. But it was time to move on. It was time to show people what we are really capable of as artists."
"Revenant Era" (2003-2005)
After the smoke had cleared and Andrew was settling into the band as the new bassist, the band decided to record a demo version of Hoover's "Call Back." The band went to friend Paul Abbott on a late May afternoon in 2003, just months after Ditlevson joined. It was really his final test. Says Ditlevson, "We rehearsed the song and had played it live a few times. But the guys didn't really know how I would perform in a studio setting. I guess I passed!"
The origins of "Revenant" started out as a group of intimate solo efforts by Hoover. Matthew has asserted himself as a major song-writing force and had started playing solo acoustic shows. "Tattered Sails," "Revenant"'s opening track, is a haunting love song about being gone from your loved ones and returning. "Daydream Listening," "Island," and "Ghosts" also feature the softer, somber side of the band's efforts. "It was weird because all of these songs were originally written to be solo performance songs. I even kicked around the idea of recording them with a different band, but once I demo'd the songs to the guys, the songs really began to take a new life, a new mood and feel."
The Brothers Copenhaver would be called upon to bring the rockers to the album. Says Ron, "One of the biggest influences for me as a guitar player was the release of Pearl Jam's "Riot Act". I remember sitting around with Don one day listening to that album saying, 'That's what we need for the record.' So Andrew, Don and I holed up in the basement and wrote "Big Like The Sea," "Scattered," and "Short Year." When we started to rehearse them with vocals we knew these would be the songs that would complete the album." Hoover chipped in "Backlash" and "Still Waiting." After that it was a matter of tightening things for the studio and recording them. For this record, the band decided to use another studio than John Schwab Recording. "We just felt that we were a new band, a different band from the "Big, Ohio" days, so we wanted to use a different studio for "Revenant"," says Andrew. "I wasn't in the band when they recorded" Big, Ohio", so going into this studio was all new for me."
If putting the roots rock history behind them was the goal, well, mission accomplished. The Peachbones followed up their debut album with a new attitude, a new bass player, and said good-bye to the alt-country genre to which they had been unfairly tied. "Revenant" features vintage synthesizer, raw guitar tone, a huge drum kit, and more intimate lyrics. Says Donne, "All of the music that has influenced us over the years is audible on this record. The only similarity between "Revenant" and "Big, Ohio" is that there is pedal steel on "Revenant" . . . it was just played by a different guy." The pedal steel on "Revenant" is played by long-time friend of the band Barry Hensley. "But even the playing style--the way Barry played it--it took some of the country out of the pedal steel. It is much more ambient, more spacious," adds Ditlevson. Says Hoover, "There's much more of a concept to this album than with "Big, Ohio". "Big, Ohio" was more a group of songs with no real collective direction. "Revenant" is more of a concept album. There are repetitive themes of the ocean, waves, and the tide on this record. It's about how these things connect us all and how these things are special to each member of the band."
"Revenant" brought the band back to a more aggressive, experimental level. The songs were allowed to breathe and grow and paint the picture the band has always wanted to paint. This is also the case, literally, as all of the albums artwork was painted by Andrew Ditlevson. Philip Mozolak came back into the picture by taking all of Andrew's art and fused it into the album package. He also helped in giving up bandwidth for the Peachbones Podcast which is on iTunes. The word "revenant" means to come back from the dead or from a long absence. And this is exactly what The Peachbones did on this album.
Some post-"Revenant" material has already been recorded. In July 2006 the band released a new single called "Monster, Monster". Perhaps the most poppy Peachbones song to date, "Monster, Monster" is a quick-hitter about how even the most feared people in society have fears of their own. "I saw a documentary about a serial killer in England. Authorities suspected who it was but waited to make their move until the next thunderstorm rolled into town. Apparently this serial killer, feared by thousands of people, was afraid of thunder and lighting. That's when police made their move," says Hoover. Musically, the song was one of many of Ron's Garageband home recordings. "I remember playing over this drum loop one day--a kick drum and hi-hat loop--and I came up with this little two-chord melody. At the time I was thinking of the band [Idaho] . I added a shaker, cleaned my tone up a little bit, and wrote it in about a half an hour. It's simple, but sometimes that's what works best." Ron continues, "I had also written music for a song called 'Burn Out Bright' using the same loop. I just added a low-pass filter on the loop. I found this really great voicing for an A chord and just took it from there." Though "Burn Out Bright" has not been recorded, the song has found its way into the live show. "As far as arrangements go, 'Burn Out Bright' is ready to record. We just have to find the money," Matthew says. Additionally, Ron, Don, and Andrew have been down in the basement again working on more new material. "It's how we did some of the tracks for "Revenant". We just go down to the basement and work on one or two songs and then present them to Hoover. What's also a plus is being able to do home demos of them on Garageband, put them into iTunes, and burn them on a disc for everyon to take with them. That's how 'Monster, Monster' worked out so well. I gave a CD to Matt, a few weeks later he had the lyrics and vocal melody," says Ron.The band has continued to write material. "The rest of the stuff I've been working on with Don and Andrew is very different from 'Burn Out Bright'. It's a little, I don't know, heavier . . . a little more groove to it," Ron adds.
"The Side Projects"
The band thought it would be appropriate to update fans and frequent site visitors with what's been going on with The Peachbones lately. For a good portion of 2007, it was decided that the band would allocate more time for side projects to come to the forefront for a little while, allowing The Peachbones to take a much needed break. The Peachbones have really never taken any time off, unless you count rehearsals and studio sessions as time off between shows and more rehearsals!
Each member of The Peachbones has at least one side project. Matthew is working on some rootsy solo stuff; Ron fronts The Real California with Donne on drums and Andrew on guitar. Andrew also and co-fronts The Vercos with his wife Anne. That being said, The Peachbones will be back in full force after this runs its course. In the meantime, there will be some cool site updates to thepeachbones.com (studio footage of the making of Revenant, exclusive tracks for download, and band interviews) to hit before The Peachbones regroup later this summer of 2007. Until then, check back frequently for updates and other news. You can find out more about The Real California and The Vercos by checking them out on myspace.com.
"Under The Covers"
As a bachelor's party present to Andrew and Ron, the band purchased some studio time at a local studio in Ashland. The band wanted to record some cover songs, which, up to this point, had not been done with any consistency. The band recored two Neil Young songs (Cortez The Killer, Words Between The Lines Of Age) and The Beatles' Come Together. The basic drum tracks and a few guitar tracks were recorded in the studio, but the rest of the songs are being completed in Ron's basement. Cortez The Killer is finished. Just need to find the time to get the others cranked out.
We're still working out how these songs will be release or available to fans. More than likely, we'll put them up on our website or our myspace page for people to listen to, but not download or purchase. If you're a fan of The Peachbones and a fan of Neil Young and/or The Beatles, you'll love the interpretations that the band has created!
"When The Music's Over"
In January 2008, after a slow decline in song-writing, live shows, and general band activity, The Peachbones decided to call it quits. There is still much speculation about why the band broke up, but one thing is for sure: it seems like the natural progression of things. Even scrolling through the band's history on Wikipedia, you can see a gradual decline in productivity.
Many things are at work when a band breaks up. Matthew, Ron, and Don have played together since 1994. For all three, that was one year after they graduated high school. Most marriages in America do not last as long as this band did. The same dynamics that made the band great were also the same dynamics that made it increasingly difficult to maintain. When the band started gigging in Columbus, they soon developed a large following and a reputation as being a loud, aggressive, high-energy band with a rockabilly/punk rock blend. Soon, the band was sort of type cast into just doing different versions of the same type of song. This was not the direction for the band that Ron and Don wanted, but it appeared to be the formula that was most successful. Hoover would privately admit that he greatly struggled with the band's musical direction during the Revenant sessions and the life of the band post-Revenant. Ron and Don wanted to continue to push things in new directions while Matthew wanted to "get back to the basics" of more of the roots rock stylings. Andrew, caught in the middle, would have been content to do either, but also expressed the desire not to go back to the "old Peachbones" and feared that the band doing so would be like being in a Peachbones cover band. In additional the differences about what direction to take the band, the non-musical aspects of the band's life was also a catalyst for the band's end. (Even though this a Wikipedia page, it still some how seems inappropriate to write any details about what was going on in each of the guy's lives. Just know that the musical and creative clashes combined with the private life-choices of each band member was just too much weight to bare).
None of the band members want to believe that the band's end was the old "create difference" cliche. But it is true to some extent. In the end, that's why every band breaks up or stops playing. Different driving forces have different ideas and different agendas. For 14 years, Ron, Don, and Matthew managed to be on the same page musically, with the driving forces work together and everyone shared the same agenda.
Fans reacted strongly. Most of them didn't see this coming. To the fans close with the band, it was a little less shocking. The Peachbones, above all else, were always a professional band in that they never let off-stage or behind-the-scenes disagreements manifest themselves on stage. But quietly, each member of the band sensed that the end was near. With the band finally out of debt from Revenant and making money, it just seems that the music itself was no longer the collective priority. Says Ron, "To me, if you're in a band and the music is not the first priority, things will not go well and it'll show. It's not that you can't have any other priorities as a band or a musician, but the music should always be the first priority. I think somewhere along the way, The Peachbones lost focus and the music dropped to a lower slot . . . and you just can't do that and expect to function as a meaningful band." Ron continues, "When Don and I decided we wanted to play in a band . . . you know . . . play seriously in a band, we said we wanted it to be a band that would always push musical boundaries and grow. When you get into a comfort zone, it's time to push things and challenge yourself and grow musically. I think The Peachbones tried to do that, but there were just too many other things working against it."
While the band is no more, the band's myspace page is still operational. This gives fans a chance to go to the site and listen to music, look at photos, and network with their myspace friends. Ron and Matthew have discussed the idea of getting together to record the vocals for Neil Young's "Words." Ron recently posted the band's cover of "Cortez The Killer," which was received well by fans of the band. And this is the bitter-sweet part of the band's end: their version of Cortez is arguably one of their best recorded songs in their catalogue. There is just an organic, lively, free-spirited feel to this version. One almost wonders if the band--even back when this song was recorded--knew this would be their last time in the studio together. Perhaps that inspired the compelling performances heard on this track.
For each member of the band, the music does continue, but in different forms. Andrew has a band with his wife called The Vercos. Matthew will continue to do solo shows and the occasional show with a new part-time band The Super Saints." Ron and Don will continue to play with The Real California.
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