Stephen Chopek spent much of the last few years on the road, promoting his music through hundreds of solo shows around the U.S., touring through the United Kingdom as direct support for singer/songwriter Jesse Malin (for whom Chopek used to play drums), and drumming with former Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty.
With over 20,000 miles logged supporting his latest works—2018’s full-length Begin the Glimmer, and 2019’s EP of cover songs by Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan, Songs of Shane—Chopek was looking forward to spending time creating new music in The Perch, his Memphis studio.
Then, as it did with just about everything else in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown solidified his decision. Shortly after returning home from a late-February radio session at Oxford, Mississippi’s Thacker Mountain Radio, Chopek realized that, whether he’d intended to or not, he wouldn’t be going anywhere for some time.
“It was not the way I would have planned, not the way I wanted it, but it was like, ‘You want time at home? Well, here you go,’” Chopek says.
Armed with a batch of ideas that he had earmarked for a potential album, Chopek decided to get the ball rolling and start putting his new music out as singles. A quick-hit way to get music out at a steady clip.
Within a month, Chopek was releasing material, unveiling in late-March “Cherokee Arms,” the first in a series of songs he plans to release during 2020.
Shortly thereafter, Chopek partnered with the venerable New York City-based independent label, Declared Goods, through whom he will promote his next two singles, “With Every Love Lost” in August and “Unspoken Hopes” in December.
Whereas “Cherokee Arms” dabbled in classic 90s post-grunge pop perfection akin to Soul Asylum, Paul Westerberg, and Fountains of Wayne, the follow-up singles take their cues from something a bit more skewed, with hints of June of 44, Portastatic, and The Sea and Cake.
Intercutting those are a series of videos Chopek is recording for his YouTube channel called Live from The Perch, featuring unreleased singles such as “Since We Got Together,” “No One Just Us Two,” and “Don’t Go, Stay Home.”
Stephen reflects, “These works are based on reoccurring themes. Shedding old skin while moving from one chapter of life to the next. We leave part of us behind, but always hold on to our true selves.”
Chopek is a musician living and working in Memphis. He moved to TN in 2014 after leaving his hometown in NJ. Prior to releasing his first solo album in 2012, he spent over 10 years drumming on tour and in the studio with Charlie Hunter and John Mayer, among many others. Stephen plays all the instruments on his latest singles.
With hopes that tour life will resume in the not-too-distant future, all of this time writing and recording in The Perch, will lead up to the release of Chopek’s as-yet-untitled EP in Spring 2021.