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The myth of Knox Hamilton – the man, not the band – began in a small Arkansas thrift shop where founding members Boots and Cobo Copeland were spending their summer break as volunteers, lost in the sky-high piles of dusty, forgotten mementos. Within the stacks of discarded clutter, the brothers they stumbled onto an old 1970s yearbook. “In it was a picture of one of the most rock ‘n’ roll dudes I have ever seen,” says lead vocalist, Boots, laughing. “And his name was Knox Hamilton.” Having already begun work on their danceable brand of indie-rock anthems, the foursome adopted the quirky title as an emblematic way to capture their idiosyncratic sound – songs with modest southern roots that soar to modern, ethereal heights free of boundaries or borders. “We were searching for what to call ourselves, and it was a no-brainer.”
And in that moment, Knox Hamilton went from man to myth, and from myth to music.
Raised as pastor’s sons in Texas and Arkansas, Boots and Cobo discovered music through the timeless, harmony-driven devotionals that filled their father’s church. It was there they became entranced by the palpable power of song to change a mood, lift people up or inspire them – and soon, as they dove into the music of classic bands like Beatles and Hall & Oates, a world beyond the pews unfolded. Rock & roll became religion.
It also became a family affair. Buried within Knox Hamilton concordant melodies is the vibrant bond between Boots and Cobo that propels their writing and enticing stage presence. “There’s a brotherly connection there, knowing what the person is going to do next, it’s easier to play with someone who is like another version of yourself. There’s a degree of intuition to it; a genetic thread. My mom is one of the best singers I’ve ever heard,” Boots adds. “She even sings on one of our records.”
Knox Hamilton is a band that embraces light and life; celebrating that looks to create a mood and drive a feeling. Every note punctuates an intentional effort to thrive on blooming melodies that last in your mind and create butterflies in your stomach. This isn’t music that plays with skittish vocals, avant-garde notes, and dissonant rhythms just for the sake of it. “The melodies are what people take with them from the live show and from the recordings. The melodies stay with people for days” says Boots.
One listen to “Washed Up Together”, the first single from their upcoming album The Heights that was produced by Tim Pagnotta (Walk The Moon, Neon Trees), and one could argue they’ve achieved this goal.
“It always struck me how a song or a melody could impact your state of mind,” says Boots. “And as we began to write music, I realized I never wanted to feed a bad moment, but rather foster a good one. I’d rather make people dance than cry. Life is filled with problems and rainy days – I’d rather Knox Hamilton ease that dreariness than indulge in it.”
Boots and Cobo penned their first song at age twelve on the meager instruments their family was able to afford – nothing glamorous, but enough to learn the basics. It was then they realized a kind of brotherly synchronicity that allowed them to unleash a powerful songwriting force, where finishing each other’s sentences – and measures – proved a natural, easy task. Boots would take to the guitar with his smooth vocals reaching across an astounding range, Cobo shuffling out electric percussion that rooted it all into something danceable, catchy and endlessly imaginative. “We’re always trying to pick up where our favorite bands have left off,” Boots says. “But with our own spin, of course.”
This electric energy manifested into Knox Hamilton as the band began to grow an organic following around Little Rock. In a climate enamored with the south and Americana sounds, Knox Hamilton were anything but – they used synth beats, not banjos; the pillars of their music imported from across the country and the globe. Here they were, southern boys making sidewalk music.
“We love Arkansas and the south. But our music doesn’t sound like it’s from the south. It’s a balance of trying to appreciate where we are from, but also escape it,” says Boots. “We’ll always know where our roots lie…but we’ll also try to snap those ties, too, in our music.”
“Every record we made was out in the sticks in a little studio in Ward, Arkansas,” says Boots. Their locomotive, melodic tunes full of synth breaks and booming choruses would echo out into the rural town – in true Knox Hamilton fashion, it was a meeting of both their roots and their far-reaching artistry. The band previously released their debut EP How’s Your Mind, which featured the runaway single “Work It Out.” The single seemingly climbed out of nowhere to the top of SiriusXM’s Alt18 charts and reached “near-Adele levels on alt-rock radio” (Huffington Post), garnering over 5 million streams on Spotify. There’s something about the electric, restless rhythm and the shimmery beat that capture a true timely ethos – never too self-conscious to be catchy, never too pop to forgo serious attention to lyricism.
Knox Hamilton – the man or the myth – would certainly approve.