Stephen Chopek

For fans of:Guided By Voices, Paul Westerberg, Jonathan Richman, The Sea and Cake, R.E.M.

Stephen Chopek had just returned home from a tour playing drums with former Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty when an explosive songwriting streak hit him. While in the throes of his creative deluge, the Pandemic put most of the world on indefinite lockdown.

With no other commitments for the foreseeable future, he finally had the latitude to take his time with the new songs. It was a luxury that he, as a touring musician for the last two decades, is normally not afforded.

“I got to a new place with my writing because I was able to completely focus on this one thing,” Chopek says. “I had the time, so there was no rush.”

Chopek noticed something different about this new batch of songs as they began to take shape. He was writing in a style that was less abstract, more overt, and with clearer storytelling than he ever had before. And where Chopek had typically written songs that were founded in chord progressions and melody, he was now exploring guitar riffs, keyboard lines, and drum grooves on which to build his new music.

Shortly after, Chopek’s wife accepted a job that would take the couple from Tennessee to Georgia.

“The move gave me a deadline,” he says. “If I didn’t finish recording at home in Memphis, it would have really disrupted the process.”

By the time he packed up, moved to Atlanta, and reassembled his studio, Chopek had been away from his new songs for months. Revisiting the music with fresh ears, Chopek spent more time rearranging his latest collection and began the mixing process.

Once the songs were complete, they were sent back to Memphis for mastering by Matt Qualls at Young Avenue Sound.

The result is Dweller, a six-track EP that will be released on August 6th, 2021. It blends classic hooks reminiscent of some of power pop’s most iconic songwriters like Matthew Sweet, Ben Kweller, Bobby Bare Jr., Paul Westerberg, Tommy Keene, and Evan Dando. The release will be preceded by two singles from the EP, "All Play No Work" and "Empty Hands" on June 8th and July 9th respectively.

The EP’s title comes from the sudden universal concept of being locked down with nowhere to go; and the experience Chopek had over the previous year, where he was, for the first time in his professional life, stationary.

Looking back through photos he had taken on tour, Chopek found the perfect picture to fit his EP’s name, as a dilapidated single-story building sits amongst overgrown weeds, a cerulean sky framing the building’s stoic exterior.

It was an image he captured somewhere along the road on his way home, not knowing when or for how long he might be stuck there, armed with only his songs and a whole lot of time.

Stephen Chopek is a musician living and working in Atlanta, GA. Prior to releasing his first solo album in 2012, he spent over 10 years drumming on tour and in the studio with Charlie Hunter, John Mayer, and Jesse Malin among many others. Stephen plays all the instruments on Dweller.