Just two years ago, Cobourg-based duo cleopatrick were playing covers of Grammy-nominated band Highly Suspect, a group whose own start came from covering songs from generations past. A Youtube video of one of these covers (which at the time was sitting at a respectable 70 views) was my entry to the band in 2016, and from there I discovered their original music. Today, they have already opened for Highly Suspect in Chicago, have an international tour scheduled, and their biggest single “Hometown” is on course to break 10 million plays on Spotify. With only one formal EP under their belt, and a cluster of singles that have solidified their garage-turned-house-party-rock sound, such a rapid rise to prominence has been a rare sight in today’s rock environment, and the band shows no signs of slowing down.
“Youth” is the last single being released from what was originally an EP. Why did you decide to switch the release format?
We recorded an EP’s worth of music in the first two weeks of July 2017, but we eventually decided to release them all as singles. It gives each track more room to breathe, and overall just shows more respect to each song since they’re not all released at once.
You recently announced that you’re opening for the band Highly Suspect. How crazy is it to go from covering their songs to actually opening for them less than a year later?
Yeah, that’s been unbelievable man. We pretty much started off as a Highly Suspect cover band, and in our live shows we would play like 2 of our own songs and then cover a few of their songs. It feels so surreal to be opening for them.
How did that come about?
So when we first signed with our North American agent, he asked us for some bands that we could relate to or we had similarities to, and one of the bands we mentioned was Highly Suspect. A couple months later, our darling manager Vanessa called us and told us she had big news. She was being really cryptic but the news was that we were going to be opening for Highly Suspect. It’s a word that we’ve been using all the time recently, but it’s just so surreal.
What’s the story behind “Hometown”, the song that really put you guys on the map? It started from Spotify’s Allison Hagendorf hitting you guys up, right?
It’s a funny story actually. So after we recorded “Hometown,” I made a bunch of fake accounts and started linking it on online forums and stuff. And I used one of them to e-mail Alli to pretty much say “Hey check this cool band out!”. 20 minutes later, we were on the “New Noise” playlist.
Changing gears a little bit, you guys have mentioned before that hip-hop has taken over the cultural zeitgeist and that rock has sort of been neglected by today’s generation. Do you see this changing at all?
We once heard someone describe the music industry as a boat that sways back and forth from one side to the other. Rock is definitely in a weird place right now, and it might come back again, but ever since the grunge era ended, it hasn’t really been the same.
So does being labelled as a “rock band” carry a certain connotation with it?
Yeah we’re not really fans of being labelled that, but of course people like to categorize things. We’re just 2 guys with a guitar and a drum set, and we wanna make music that people like. We get compared to bands like The Black Keys a lot, and although they’re a sweet band, we just hate the comparisons because we want to do our own thing, you know?
For sure. Are there certain elements of hip-hop that you try to incorporate in your music too? Or do you try to stick to a more traditional rock philosophy?
Well I feel like our release format was heavily inspired by what a lot of rappers are doing today. Some fans actually like the single-format a lot more than dropping an album or EP once every few years.
Do you think you’re going to stick to this format for future projects or are you interested in doing a long-form one?
That’s pretty far in the future, so we haven’t really decided yet, but we’re definitely interested in making an album at some point. It’s sort of a time capsule of a band’s feelings and hopes at the time when it was written.