Feature Stories

Sad Cops Play in a Church Band by Day and Rock Clubs By Night

Sad Cops are a band of two different worlds. They're teenagers who are about to strike out on their own as adults. They're based in the upper middle-class suburb of Coppell, but they'll soon be in the college music haven of Denton. And depending on the night of the week, their members are part of a church band who also play shows as a three-piece in the secular club world of Deep Ellum.

The band released their debut EP, Best Friends, in January, and it showcases a sophisticated understanding of pop punk, shoegaze and emo. But the songs sound even better live. Last week on Monday in front of a solid crowd at Club Dada, they looked confident and focused and stared right back at the audience. They told jokes in between songs that actually made people laugh and lunged over the crowd from atop the monitors. This, unequivocally, is a rock band — yet Dada was only their fourth live performance and their usual gig is playing in a church band on Wednesday nights for a youth group.

In fact, Best Friends was actually recorded in the backstage studio of an enormous church in Coppell, which is where they also meet up to be interviewed. After playing a couple songs with some other musicians for the youth group in the church’s student center, the trio heads into the church. The Sunday service band is rehearsing onstage, so they go backstage. After grabbing sodas out of a fridge, they realize the noise is still too loud, head into the dressing room, and shut the door.

Grayson Harris writes the songs, sings, and plays guitar. He is 17 and will start his senior year of high school in the fall. Christian Meyer is 18, plays bass, and will start at the University of North Texas in the fall. Taylor Goode is 19, plays drums, and just finished up at a Christian college preparatory school. With Meyer as his roommate in Denton, he will also start at UNT this fall. In a year, Harris will join them. They plan to get a house, rehearse there and tour through the summers.

The three teens look and act their ages. They don’t seem to have egos or any great secret to their sound. Goode is the oldest and tallest, but also the quietest; he mainly stares at the carpet. Meyer is unquestionably the most extroverted, constantly laughing and making jokes. He says he technically isn’t allowed to be in the church because he climbed up on the roof and threw a guitar off it. Harris is thoughtful, the band’s diplomatic leader. He is more introverted, but Meyer rubs off on him and being in a band has really started to pry open his shell.

Harris says he got tired of “worship music” for a while, but is starting to enjoy it again. “Contemporary worship music,” Meyer says, before pausing. “There isn’t a lot of versatility.” “Or innovation,” Harris agrees. “It’s all copying.” “It innovates very slowly,” says Meyer. “It’s five to 10 years behind all the rest of the music,” says Harris. They think it all sounds like Edward Sharpe or Mumford & Sons, but enjoy playing it. For a while, Harris planned to pursue a career as a church musician. But he was struck by how much differently crowds reacted in other environments.

Sad Cops are not a Christian rock band, but they are Christians in a rock band. “He’s a Christian Christian in a rock band,” says Harris, pointing at Christian Meyer. He thinks it may classify them as a pseudo-Christian rock band, but Meyer prefers the term “Sumo Christian” and tosses out the idea of incorporating wrestling into the band. They laugh. Sad Cops seem to have distaste for genre categorization and describe their sound simply as having fun. But they do enjoy making up names of genres. Online, they have labeled themselves as “tweemo.” But Harris seems to think “taco pop” is the right choice henceforth.

The name of the band is the one thing they feel serious about. Harris originally chose the name because he thought it sounded “short and cute.” But as police brutality became more rampant, the name took on new meaning. “I’m not particularly a fan of law enforcement,” says Harris, who considers himself a pacifist. “When alpha males in places of power have guns and can pretty much do whatever they want, bad things are bound to happen. It’s like the Stanford prison experiment.”

Operating out of Coppell for just a few months, the band is already impressive. They enjoy playing DIY spaces: Their first show was in a garage and their third on a tennis court. With that in mind, it should be very interesting to see them transplanted to the Denton music scene. But for now, Sad Cops are working on their next EP, planning more shows and playing for their church youth group on Wednesday nights.

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Jeremy Hallock