Brothers Casey and Jesse Cooper, who make up The Receiver, may be Midwestern guys — they’re from Columbus, Ohio, to be exact — but they’ve gone all the way to England to get a stalled career back into gear.
After seeing their second album, “Length of Arms,” essentially come and go without getting more than a limited online release, the duo landed a deal with Kscope Records, an established independent British label known as home for such progressive-leaning rock acts as Porcupine Tree, Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame) and TesseracT.
The Receiver's first release on Kscope, the full-length album “All Burn,” was released last June.
“It was important for us to find a label that was actually a label and not just some hobbyists,” Casey Cooper says during a telephone interview. “Our last two records, unfortunately, were on very, very small labels, run by one or two people. And that seems more like a hobby, even though they’re working hard. They don’t have quite the reach that a label like Kscope has. Kscope has a full staff. They’re doing it full time. They’re working with bands every single day. It's important we're part of a group like that.”
The Cooper brothers are doing their part to help Kscope get the word out about “All Burn,” and the synth-based duo's tour schedule shows its dedication. A demanding schedule of shows are booked solid through the next couple of months. After a decade of career stops and starts, the Coopers will take it.
The Receiver will perform at 8:30 p.m. Friday, June 17, at Public House, 258 A St., Ashland. Admission is free. Another show is set for 9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at Johnny B's, 120 E Sixth St., Medford. Admission is $5.
Things got off to a reasonable enough start when Casey Cooper (vocals, keyboards and bass) and Jesse Cooper (drums and vocals) started out a decade ago. Signed to a small indie label, Stunning Models on Display, they released their debut album, “Decades,” in 2006 and got to tour and start building a fan base.
The real setback came after readying "Length of Arms" for its 2009 release.
“We were working with a couple of friends,” Casey Cooper says. “They had never run a label before, but they thought they could do a better job for us on our second album. It sounded promising, so we went with them. The further we got into it, the more we realized how difficult it is to compete with all of the other bands and all of the other music that's being put out there."
In 2010, after being able to get only a limited release of “Length of Arms,” the Coopers decided to approach a few labels about re-releasing the album. One of those labels was Kscope, which tried to acquire the rights to “Length of Arms,” but couldn’t agree on a purchase price for the master recordings. A second label, Monotreme Records, also explored re-releasing the album, but opted out. Needless to say, the Coopers were sorely disappointed at this turn of events.
“I remember at that moment, if I had been in a car, I probably would have driven off a bridge,” Cooper says, joking at the difficult turn of events. “We needed all the help that we could get. Then there we were four months later with both contracts off the table. We didn't understand why it happened or what went wrong. There was a lot of bitterness, a lot of anger, a lot of disappointment.”
There also was no question that the brothers would push forward, and Casey Cooper got back to writing songs, soon finishing “All Burn.”
Then, the initial contact with Kscope about “Length of Arms” came back into play, and The Receiver was the first American band to sign with the label.
Compared to the first two Receiver albums, “All Burn” is a bit more lush and dreamy, but the duo’s core blend of highly melodic synthesizer- and electronic-based pop remains intact. Appealing songs such as “These Days,” “Transit” and ”April Blades” are built around graceful vocal melodies and have just enough push from the rhythm tracks to keep things from drifting behind their layered sound.
Now the Cooper brothers are out on their marathon tour bringing songs from “All Burn” — and from their back catalog — to life. Most of the shows will find The Receiver playing concise sets running around 45 minutes, although Cooper says a few shows call for them to play two-hour headlining sets. The shorter sets figure to lean toward the more energetic Receiver material.
“We just try to inject a little more live energy, try to get the bass and the drums a chance to shine a little bit,” Cooper says. “But when we play the softer songs, that’s nice, too, because it changes, I think, the dynamic a little bit and kind of creates a set that’s interesting for the listener.”