Playing moody but thoughtful indie rock with a literate lyrical perspective, Copeland was formed by pianist, guitarist, and singer Aaron Marsh, and bassist and backing vocalist James Likeness. Longtime friends Marsh and Likeness both called Lakeland, Florida home, and the two began working on material together in 2001. After recruiting lead guitarist Bryan Laurenson, rhythm guitarist Thomas Blair, and drummer Rusty Fuller, the first lineup of Copeland was complete, named for the celebrated American composer Aaron Copland. Copeland soon cut a split EP with the band Pacifico, released in 2001, though Blair would be out of the band by the end of the year. As the group's popularity grew, a number of fans and journalists described Copeland as a Christian rock band, given the spiritual themes of some of their songs. However, principal songwriter Marsh rejected the tag, telling one reporter that while some of the group's members were devout Christians, "We have no agenda in our band other than art."
In 2002, the band came to the attention of independent record label the Militia Group, and after finalizing a record contract, they began work on their debut album, Beneath Medicine Tree, which was inspired in part by the passing of Marsh's grandmother and a health scare with his girlfriend. In 2005, the group released their second full-length set, In Motion, which found them introducing new drummer Jonathan Bucklew, who replaced Rusty Fuller. Only a year later, Copeland dropped album number three, Eat, Sleep, Repeat. While the album was originally released by the Militia Group, in November 2006, Copeland announced they had signed with Columbia Records, who promptly reissued the set. Copeland's relationship with Columbia proved to be short-lived; after the A&R man who signed the group left the label, the band negotiated to leave Columbia, and 2007's Dressed Up and In Line found them once again working with the Militia Group. By the time Dressed Up was released, James Likeness had left the group to pursue a career in art and design. The band also parted ways with the Militia Group to sign with Tooth & Nail Records.
In 2008, Copeland released You Are My Sunshine, with Marsh handling bass on the sessions along with keyboards, guitar, and horn and string arrangements. Copeland toured extensively in support of the album, but in 2009, they announced that they were breaking up, and booked a farewell tour for their fans. After Copeland disbanded, Marsh opened a recording studio, the Vanguard Room, and focused on his hip-hop-influenced side project, the Lulls in Traffic, as well as producing other acts. Meanwhile, Bryan Laurenson recorded an album with his side project, States, which also featured Jonathan Bucklew. In 2014, Copeland announced that they were reuniting, with Aaron Marsh, Bryan Laurenson, and Jonathan Bucklew; they were joined by Stephen Laurenson (who had previously been the group's touring rhythm guitarist and a member of States) and bassist Bobby Walker. The revived Copeland released a new album, Ixora, in November 2014, and in 2015, the group launched an acoustic tour on a double bill with Paramore. ~ Mark Deming