Reading, Pennsylvania progressive metal band Stargazer has an edge that sets them apart from genre contemporaries
Matthew Copp was a member of his school’s chorus from Kindergarten through high school graduation. Copp, now 24, uses his years of singing experience to front the progressive metal band Stargazer, a group whose unique style demands a delivery that’s a far (and angry) cry from his choral roots.
“When I do harsh vocals I am always attempting to be as demonic as possible and sound as aggressive as possible, which isn’t really a thing that progressive singers do,” said Copp, a resident of Reading. “They have like a sort-of screaming tone that also allows them to sing, and I have that as well, but I always try to maximize the power and volume and intensity of my screaming vocals which I think is unique to us.”
Copp’s first encounter with screaming in music came during listening sessions with his System of a Down CDs, but his journey through high school coincided with the metalcore explosion. He was exposed to bands like Our Last Night, We Came As Romans and The Devil Wears Prada, which sent him even further down the rabbit hole.
“I think around 2010 when Periphery dropped their first album I got into that, and that’s what kind of started me down more of a progressive kind of zone,” Copp said. “There’s different bands; The Contortionist, I dabble a little bit with TesseracT… these weird underground bands that weren’t really that popular in the mainstream that I really took a liking to.”
The vocalist’s music taste reads like a “for fans of” hype sticker on the front of a Stargazer album. The band’s songs are intricate and layered, but possess the in-your-face vocal delivery of breakdown-centric hardcore. It starts with guitarists Eric Edmonds and Jose Arvelo, who write using guitar tablature editor software called Guitar Pro 6. They use filler drum and bass tracks, which are then elaborated on or outright changed by bassist, Jonny Hutchison, and drummer, John Dooley. After the foundation is in place, Copp tweaks his poetry to fit the song’s structure or lets the music inspire him.
Stargazer is in the middle of the recording process for its debut full-length, which they hope to release this summer, but the band takes breaks to play in the eastern Pennsylvania area. Copp said their first foray into live music was “embarrassing,” but show goers who attend a Stargazer concert in 2016 can expect a band that forms a connection with its audience through relatable lyrics and a solid stage presence.
“At the end of our set we’re playing a brand new song called ‘Temple of Solace,” Copp said. “I kind of call everybody in around me and then I have these two lines at the very end … ‘I look inside and gaze into this hell/I need to change my life/save me from myself.’ We play some aggressive music but that’s a very personal, emotive thing that I think a lot of people can identify with. That’s why I kind of call everybody in; that’s very true to me and I know it’s true to other people.”
For updates on Stargazer’s upcoming full-length and future live dates, follow the band on Facebook at Facebook.com/bandStargazer or add them on Twitter or Instagram @stargazerpa.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts