The platinum-selling group Sister Hazel knows a thing or two about longevity. Having the same members for about 25 years has been a badge of honor for the Gainesville, Florida-bred band.
Guitarist/singer/songwriter Andrew Copeland has the secret for that: Putting family and each other first.
“We all have a lot of respect for the band,” Copeland says. “Everyone holds it in a very special place. We all agreed early on, too, that family comes first. If there are issues with family, we’ve always been there to support each other. Everybody steps up and fills that gap and pulls the weight.
“All five of us, as well, came to the realization that something that was a possible argument isn’t going to matter in six months, six weeks or 6 minutes. We just let it go. It was a hard lesson to learn with five guys of equal say.”
Those types of beliefs are echoed on their latest release Lighter in the Dark, which debuted across multiple genres’ charts. It followed that up with Unplugged from Daryl’s House Club.
“We put out Lighter in the Dark a little over a year ago,” he says. “It charted on multiple charts. That was an honor for us to have that attention.
“The songs we write are from the heart. We’re not contrived. We all agree that people can see through it when you’re something you’re not. We let the songs dictate what they’re going to be. We’ve had a really good time continuing to make music.”
Sister Hazel, Copeland adds, refuses to be pigeonholed.
“If all they’ve heard is (the hit) ‘All for You,’ their description of the band is inaccurate,” he says. “We’re way deeper than that. Many more influences shine through in our live shows and music. We’re not an alt-pop band. We’re not a country band. We’re not a rock band. We’re a fusion of all those things. To have the recognition is always an honor and it makes sense to spread our success wide across the genres.”
Those sounds will be showcased when Sister Hazel performs at the Crescent Ballroom on Saturday, June 17. Fans can expect a high-energy show with some new Sister Hazel songs like “Kiss Me Without Whiskey” and “That Kind of Beautiful” as well as the aforementioned 1990s hit “All for You.”
Preshow VIP events live up to its fan-centered reputation. Sister Hazel hosts annual events like Hazelnut Hang, a music festival on a beach, and hosts The Rock Boat, a cruise featuring nonstop opportunities for fan/artist interaction. At the Crescent Ballroom, a limited number of exclusive VIP experiences are available. These packages include access to a Sister Hazel preshow event, extensive Q&A session with the band and limited-edition merchandise. Visit sisterhazelvip.com for more information.
“We’ve been doing fan events for a long time,” Copeland says.
“The Rock Boat is in its 18th year. When it started, we had one other band and we reserved 200 cabins on a cruise ship and played a couple shows.
“It went so well that the next year, we chartered an entire cruise ship and brought 25 to 30 bands with us. It was basically a music festival on a cruise ship.”
The next incarnation of The Rock Boat is from January 30 to February 4, sailing from New Orleans to Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico, on the Norwegian Pearl. Besides Sister Hazel, the lineup includes Barenaked Ladies, Cowboy Mouth and Needtobreathe, among others.
Drummer Mark Trojanowski suggested to his bandmates that they take these experiences on the road so fans can get a taste of these events.
“A lot of bands stand in front of a curtain and take a picture,” Copeland says. “We didn’t feel that people were getting their money’s worth.
“For our VIP packages, people come in and catch a bit of soundcheck. Then we sit down and play acoustic songs, deep cuts off different records, and take questions and chat with the VIP group. Then we do take pictures and fans get a gift bag with Sister Hazel memorabilia on their way out. Fans have said this is the most value they’ve ever gotten for a VIP experience.”
Copeland adds that Sister Hazel followers are “blown away” with their accessibility.
“Look, I can tell you that it’s not lost on this band that without people listening, without people buying records, without people attending shows, we’d just be a bunch of older guys in a garage somewhere playing music.
“We’re can’t feed our kids playing music in our garage. Without our fans, it just doesn’t happen. We’re very thankful for them.”
Sister Hazel w/The Brevet, Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix, 602.716.2222, crescentphx.com, 8 p.m. Saturday, June 17, $22-$35. The show is 21 and older.