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"They were--at least what I understood--they were, as far as signings, done for the year," Purdy adds. "He knew that we were looking to put out an album fairly quickly, so basically what he told us, was to keep him updated. We talk every month."
Cooper, however, was ready to start working immediately, based on a recommendation from his wife, who loved the tape. Purdy doesn't remember how he heard of Copper Records, or even why he decided to send the label a tape, but it was a good choice. Copper may be small--the label has put out only four records in the four years it's been in business--but "all of his records have done well selling-wise, and review-wise," as Purdy says. He's right: The label first caught eyes and ears with its tribute to Badfinger (1997's Come and Get It) that featured contributions from the likes of Aimee Mann, The Knack, 20/20, and Dwight Twilley. And Cotton Mather's unofficial tribute to the Beatles, 1997's Kontiki, received rave reviews in England, leading to a string of dates with Oasis; Noel Gallagher even publicly declared it one of his favorite albums of the year. Cooper/Copper knew how to get bands heard.
After he agreed to work together, Cooper came to Arlington to record Ruffled Feathers' debut--tentatively titled Whole Year Inn, and tentatively scheduled to come out on Copper in February. Instead of booking time at one of the recording studios in the area, Cooper and the band decided to set up their gear in the chapel of Purdy's and Suede's old school in Arlington, after briefly flirting with the idea of recording it at the infamous Texas Theatre, site of Lee Harvey Oswald's capture following the Kennedy assassination. With Cooper--whose main business is setting up recording studios--at the helm, the band bashed out 12 songs in four days, working practically around the clock to finish the tracks.
"We just wanted to represent the songs in a good way, in a kind of stripped-down way, and it's a good rock record," Purdy says. "This record was just going to be a good rock record, a good debut record, kind of representing where we were at the time."
"I guess, for the most part, the songs that we did were probably the most straightforward rock tunes that we had," Young adds. "I think that maybe they were the ones that fit. There was somewhat of a stage up front. We set the drums up there, and the guitars and everything on the side. It was cool, because it was sort of a live setting. We could actually go in and record in a live setting. I think it was different than what we've been used to. He kind of rode us hard, you know? But he wanted to get the best performance out of us. And it turned out to be a good thing."
"It was a lot different than other things we've done, because [Darrell] didn't want us to use headphones or anything," Purdy says. "He saw us going in a direction that...he wanted to make a good, American rock record. And that's what we wanted to do, too. He thought he would record us like Cream or Jimi Hendrix, where you know, you set everything up, you get a good sound, and just play. And that's exactly what we did."
Cooper is still slowly but surely putting together the results, sending the band tapes in the mail to update them on his progress. At the moment, the group is itching to hear the finished product and anxious for everyone else to hear it as well. They plan to play a few more shows, then spend the next month putting the finishing touches on the album and fine-tuning their set, ready to start building a following one show at a time. That strategy didn't pan out for Girl, but Purdy is confident that this time will be different, that starting at the bottom is exactly the right place to start. Even though you've heard this story before, you can't help but believe him a little.
"We don't think we're above playing on a Wednesday night," Purdy says. "We'd pretty much play anywhere. But I'd rather play at a jail and connect, than play on a Tuesday night to people who'd rather listen to karaoke or Limp Bizkit or something. I think our main mission with this, or focus, is that we're bound and determined that we're gonna build an audience from nothing. Even though it's frustrating at times right now, it's a good place to be. It's where I want to be at least. Because once it's all done, we earned it."