2015-02-27 / Front Page

Musicians open for national acts

By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD/SCARBOROUGH – A local band, Sygnal To Noise, has experienced greater exposure in the past year by playing concerts with bands that have national audiences, but its members say maintaining a sense of fun is important when trying to excel in the music industry. With three new members joining since 2013, the band has poised itself for a national market by opening for touring bands such as Blackstone Cherry, Puddle of Mudd, Winger, Saving Abel, Hellyeah, Saliva, King, Trivium and Avenged Sevenfold.

The band has been nominated as the best band in Maine by the New England Music Awards, with voting taking place until March 1 online at www.nemusicawards.com/ne-music-award-nomineesvote.

“The only thing that hinders us is money, but other than that we’re doing really well,” said band leader and singer, Mark Cooper, also known as “Coopa.” He owns Coopa Creations, fine art tattooing and body piercing, on Main Street in Biddeford. He also owns Krazy Eye Productions, a film company in Scarborough.

“We bring fun back to rock and roll. We’re old school,” he said. “The ’90s was a big influence on me vocally, but a lot of those songs were depressing.”

The band has gone through several incarnations that range from a power trio several years ago to the current lineup of five members. Coopa, of Biddeford, is the sole founding member. His son, 20-year-old Austin Cooper, also of Biddeford, has played drums for the band almost as long.

Coopa said getting the right lineup of members who share a common chemistry wasn’t easy. Guitarist Jimi Leonard, of Scarborough, originally declined Coopa’s invitation to try out for Sygnal To Noise after the band’s previous guitarist quit.

Leonard said after he saw the band play live, he realized their sound was not what he expected and he decided to try out.

Dave Graham, of Berwick, also known as “Dirty Dave,” said he contacted Coopa to ask if he knew anyone looking for a guitar player.

“I told him, actually, I needed a guitar player,” Coopa said.

For bass player Casey Chick, known as “DJ” and also from Berwick, joining Sygnal To Noise in October 2013 represented both a personal reintroduction to the performance of music and ironically, a notch down on the noise factor, despite the band’s punk, grunge, metal and classic rock influences.

“I was doing the metal thing for years,” Chick said. “When I was building my house, I sold all my gear. Then all the stars aligned and I bought equipment again. I heard Coopa played bass – I was client of his at his tattoo shop – and he told me he didn’t want to play bass in the band anymore.”

Coopa said Chick studied and learned all the songs before he tried out for the part.

“The bigger challenge, mellowing out, was a total challenge – trying to get out of my comfort zone,” Chick said. “I never played with songs that were melodic by any means of reason. There were more peaks and valleys. It was a challenge.”

Coopa said the band has thought about signing with a label but enjoys having full control of their musical product.

“The thing about getting signed is we want to have all the publishing rights,” Coopa said. “A bigger indie label might work. It’s staggering the amount of work it takes but the advantage is all on you.”

Coopa said he signed with a label in a former band, Hour Past, but he didn’t like not knowing how many CDs were selling and the band didn’t make any money because the label had to recoup its costs.

Coopa, Leonard and Graham each own their own businesses, which Coopa said helps them to manage the band.

Leonard said it takes an investment of personal funds to support a band.

“You got to rob Peter to pay Paul,” Leonard said.

Coopa said he used to be the one who financed the band’s projects but now they try to spread the costs among the members.

“I’m the bad news guy,” Coopa said. “I come in and say, ‘We need this much money.’”

Coopa said the band’s goal right now is to get a new album out and promote it. The band’s debut album, “Without Color,” was released in 2013. Coopa said there are only 150 copies of the CD left in stock that can be purchased at Bull Moose stores or at the band’s live concerts. The album can also be purchased digitally on iTunes and Amazon.com.

Although Sygnal To Noise plays locally, Coopa said they try to do it sparingly so as not to oversaturate the market, and have focused more on booking regional performances with national acts.

Sygnal To Noise will perform next with Red, 3 Years Hollow and Islander at The Asylum in Portland, Friday, Feb. 27.

They will also perform with John5 at Jewel Nightclub in Manchester, New Hampshire, March 5.

For more information, visit the band’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SygnalToNoise.

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