Answering the phone with a cool “hello” and a quick introduction, Jason “Rowdy” Cope of the southern rock band The Steel Woods, soon eased his way into a 15-minute conversation about his band’s history and the story of how their latest album came to be.
Describing the band’s sound as a “classic rock band that’s just not classic,” Cope explained that the band prides themselves on producing music that’s a cool mix of 70s style country and rock. So, as he went on to share, their music can be a middle man of two country and rock mainstays: Waylon Jennings and Led Zeppelin. A curious mix, sure, but the band has been able to make it work.
The group formed a handful of years ago after a one-off show brought current vocalist Wes Bayliss and Cope together. The duo played the show together, and after that fateful night, the two would get together whenever the other wasn’t busy, and they would do the one thing that helped strengthen their newly formed bound: fish.
“We spent probably five days a week out at this little fishing hole, me and Wes. And it just was really fast getting to know each other. If you’re going to do this thing, it can be one of those deals where it turns into the next 30 years of your life. You have to be able to get along with the other 22 hours of the day offstage,” Cope said. “So, we did a lot of that before we pulled the acoustic guitars out and started writing. Then, about month and a half into doing all that fishing and stuff, we started bringing our fishing poles and our acoustic guitars with us.”
Fishing, while a semi-unconventional way to ensure a unity amongst members of a band, was something that allowed the two to better know each other. Being in bands for most of his life, Cope knew what potential struggles could come from not being on the same page. While unconventional, it helped them better lay the foundation of the band.
Fast forward from the fateful gig and those fishing trips, The Steel Woods has released two studio albums, 2017’s debut “Straw In The Wind” and their most recent effort, 2019’s “Old News.”
As with most, the band’s sophomore release has seen the band evolve into a stronger unit than what they had off their debut release. Cope notes that there are a few reasons for the evolution, specifically in the way they decided to record the album and their personal growth as musicians.
The band went back to Cope’s hometown of Asheville, North Carolina to record the album at a studio called Echo Mountain. While there, the band experimented with how they produced the record, which, as he went onto explain, meant that they were playing in the same room together at the same time.
So, instead of going a more traditional route of laying drums, then bass and so on and so forth, the group tried to cut it all at once in the hopes of capturing a live feeling.
However, cutting the album for a live feel isn’t the only difference you’ll notice when spinning the band’s sophomore record. Cope explained that they also went through a period of growth as well, which helped them better write and produce the newest release.
“I can only speak for me personally, I’m constantly trying to be a better writer. You always want to make a record better than the last one; you always want to make the greatest artistic statement,” Cope said. “I guess with this [record], the evolution of [from] the first one, is a lot of [that first record was] just me and Wes, the singer, [whereas] this one, it’s very much all four of us playing our instruments.”
That personal growth can be shown in the band’s latest release, “Old News,” which came out on Jan. 18 via Thirty Tigers.
The album uncovers themes that can only be taken from today’s headlines and throws it back into the audience’s face with lyrics that deal with things such as morality, hope and finding common ground.
While it’s not entirely a political album, that doesn’t mean the band shies away from talking about difficult topics that the country is currently dealing with.
“I guess the concept of the song ‘Old News,’ which is the title track of the record, is based around [the fact that] I feel like there’s a missing concept of debate in this country. I believe no matter what side of the fence you’re on, you can still find a common ground of being American and getting along,” Cope said. “I saw a lot of people seem to be throwing stones at each other lately instead of really like listening to one side and listening to another. But I just think we all have some sort of common ground to find peace about…even if you ultimately come to a disagreement on a thing, it can be done.”
He continued on by saying:
“I think it’s more about the current climate, and it’s not [about] picking a side. It’s really stepping back in an artistic perspective, like, there’s no sense in for this country to have a civil war over politics for crying out loud. It just doesn’t seem like people are actually having conversations and listening. It’s almost like you label the other side and then that’s the enemy. And I just don’t like that. We’re all neighbors; if something real bad went down, I promise you we’re on the same team. There’s an element to finding that.”
Throughout their storied career as a band, one of the most prominent things that can be said about the Nashville-based group is the fact that they’re “weekend warriors,” which essentially means that they’re on the road quite a bit. As Cope further explains, touring is one of the best ways for the band to get their name out there.
The group is an independent band, so they don’t have the backing of a major label to help them with the business side of running a band. While it’s been difficult, that hasn’t stopped them from going into the trenches and taking a real punk “do it yourself” approach.
Whether it’s the filming of their own music videos, designing their merchandise, making the music and promoting it or letting their road warrior mentality shine, they’ve been able to gain quite the following since their formation. While they do a lot by themselves, Cope attributes their success to two things: the power of the internet and touring.
“Well fortunately and unfortunately, we are an independent band, [which means that we don’t have] a major label deal or anything like that. So, we do everything ourselves,” Cope said. “[Touring] is the most real format that we can get our thing out to people…Our generation has never been more [more in tune with technology.] So, we figured that’s where it’s at nowadays. [By touring], we eliminate the middleman by taking our product straight to the people.”
The Steel Woods are currently doing a headlining run in support of their latest album, “Old News.” For a full list of cities and dates, you can go here!
For more information about The Steel Woods, you can visit the band’s website or you can go to the band’s Facebook page or their Twitter. Additionally, you can listen to either of the band’s albums on their Spotify! You can do so by going here.
On July 24, reports began rushing in that Demi Lovato was found unconscious in her home. It was later reported by “Rolling Stone Magazine” that the singer was treated with Narcan, which is an emergency treatment used for narcotic overdoses, before she was taken to the hospital for further treatment. Once there, it was reported that Lovato suffered an apparent overdose due to fentanyl-laced Oxycodone.
Fast forward to August of this year, We Came As Romans, a Michigan-based metalcore act, suffered the tragic loss of their clean vocalist Kyle Pavone, due to an accidental overdose.
Then, just a few weeks later, it was reported that Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller died of an apparent overdose in his San Fernando Valley home.
Of course, these are just a few of many cases related to the overdose epidemic that has been a prominent issue for the United States. In fact, it’s been reported by the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) that overdoses have been on the rise in the United States in the past couple of years.
As the CDC notes, over the course of 1999 to 2016, more than 630,000 people have died from a drug overdose. While the numbers are high with drug overdoses in general, the CDC has found a growing number in opioid-related overdoses.
According to a report from the CDC, 66 percent of the 63,600 people who died of an overdose in 2016 could be linked with opioids, which are a group of drugs that were originally created for treating pain.
With the growing number of drug overdose-related deaths on the rise nationwide, it’s been noted by Denise Keary, the Health and Wellness Coordinator at Cleveland State University, that the school is currently in the initial stages of creating programs and resources for those struggling with substance abuse and addiction.
“We are still in the initial stages, but we have a couple of things in place right now,” Keary said. “We have the peer education program, [which has] peer educators that students can talk to [when in need]. We also have our counseling center [that students] can get involved with.”
In addition to the peer educators group and the counseling center, she also mentioned that the school has also created a support team called the “Substance Abuse, Prevention and Pathways to Recovery” team.
It’s a fairly new group on campus, but Keary maintains that they’ve already been working on educating students about what addiction is and how to end the stigma surrounding addiction.
They hope to eventually move into a more preventive area.
While the university is currently taking steps to help those who are struggling with addiction, Keary notes that students who understand the signs and symptoms of addiction can also be a great help when it comes to assisting a fellow student in need.
“It’s understanding all of those elements that are out there. Substance misuse and prevention is similar for all different types of substance, [meaning] you’re looking at the same type of symptoms for alcohol misuse as you might be looking at prescription drug misuse,” Keary said. “The same symptoms the person might be displaying for you and for the same reasons. It’s just a matter of being able to identify what those are.”
As for what those signs may be, Keary shared that a big factor in knowing if someone may be struggling with addiction is the changes in their behavior. Whether those changes be their eating and sleeping habits to things like how they are presenting themselves and if they are keeping isolated.
While knowing what the signs are, it’s only half the battle in the grand scheme of things. Knowing the right things to say to someone who might be fighting an addiction and getting them help is even more pressing.
“Sometimes it’s just a brief intervention to go up to them and say, ‘Hey, I noticed you haven’t been in class, is there anything I can help you with.’ It could be that simple, but then you have to understand how you’re going to take that next step with them,” Keary said. “[It’s all a matter of finding out] where are they in this process, if they decide to talk to you.”
Keary explained that there are different levels for determining what the next steps should be. Relating it to a stop light, a green light could be something as small as that person just needs to talk. A yellow means they probably need a referral to the counseling center, and a red means they are displaying some signs of hurting themselves or hurting somebody else.
While these signs can be difficult to gauge, knowing the right places to get them help and simply asking how someone is doing can have a lasting impact on those who are dealing with an addiction.
“I think the conversation that has started is good, [but] we have a long way to go when we’re talking about reducing the stigma with addiction and mental health,” Keary said. “Every one of us is going through something. Nobody should ever feel alone in what they’re going through, and now the doors are open, the conversation is open and we’re trying to create [an open environment] at Cleveland State.”
Resources For Students:
ON-CAMPUS RESOURCES STUDENTS CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF:
Recovery Resources work closely with Cleveland State to provide “prevention education, treatment, and recovery services for individuals impacted by mental illness and/or addiction.”
For further information:
216.431.4131, option 3 (for referral)
3950 Chester Ave, Cleveland, OH 44114
Health & Wellness
The Cleveland State Health and Wellness Center is a resource for students to receive varying degrees of medical attention. At the center, students can get their flu shots, prescriptions, various lab services, and see a primary care physician, with just a visit.
The Center for Innovation in Medical Professions is located in Room 205.
For further information:
The Cleveland State Counseling Center is a resource for students, faculty and staff to receive academic, career and personal counseling.
The Counseling Center has office hours Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Appointments can also be made from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For further information:
1836 Euclid Avenue
EVENTS HAPPENING ON CAMPUS:
Empowered Bystander training:
Empowered Bystander training will give students the opportunity to learn how to properly help someone who may be in situations like sexual violence, mental health, and/or addiction.
The training will be held on Thursday, Sept. 27 in RW 202 from 11:30 – 12:30.
Students must register on Orgsync before attending the event. One can do so by vitising:
Healthy Mind. Healthy You.
This event was created in order to reduce the stigma of substance use and addiction. Speakers include Vince Caraffi from the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and community members in recovery as they give their insight and further information on the myths, stigmas and facts on various substance abuse disorders.
The event will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 24 in IM 114 from 12:00 – 1:00.
Students must register on Orgsync before
attending the event. One can do so by vitising:
Certified Peer Educator training:
For students interested in providing a “supportive, safe and healthy campus,” they can join Cleveland State’s H.Y.P.E. team for their fall training sessions on becoming a certified Peer Educator.
The training will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 9 from 8:30 to 5:00 with lunch provided.
Students must register on Orgsync before attending the event. One can do so by vitising:
For further information, contact:
NON-UNIVERSITY RESOURCES AVAILABLE:
Heroin Project Dawn – 216.623.6888
Heroin Hotline – 216.778.5677
Suicide Prevention – 216.623.6888
Drug and Alcohol Abuse – 1.800.587.4232
Mobile Crisis Team of Cleveland – 216.623.6888
HIV Confidential Testing – 216.400.7939