Copilots fly over the Big B Saturday

Three of the five band members in Copilots grew up in Mission

The band Copilots

For the band Copilots, playing at the Big B Saloon this Saturday is going to be a homecoming of sorts. That’s because although most of the members are from Mission, they’ve played most of their gigs out of town.

Behind the music, three of the band members are Mission-born and raised: Skye Brooks on lead guitar, who also writes the songs and performs lead locals, his brother Dylan Smith on drums, and life-long friend Pete Schmitt on bass guitar. The band is rounded out by Vancouver’s Karma Sohn on keyboard and Chad MacQuarrie on guitar.

Brooks, recently recognized as a 2011 Mission Muse Award winner, is a drummer in a dozen different bands, a jaw-dropping piece of trivia.

“They’re not all active at the same time,” he quickly explains. “I know it sounds like a lot.”

It’s Brooks’ reputation as a drummer — the 37-year-old has been playing since he was 13 — that keeps him working year-round, but he’s mainly dedicated to three bands. One of those bands, named Fond of Tigers, captured a Juno Award last March in Toronto for best instrumental album of the year.

Two of the band members from that group weren’t there because they were busy touring with other bands. It’s a common part of being a modern musician.

“Pete and I grew up together in Mission and we started writing songs a long time ago, right after high school in the mid-90s, and we just kind of learned to play together.”

Brooks and Schmitt play the rhythm section in another collaborative band, Inhabitants, a Vancouver-based jazz-instrumental band which mixes improv and experimental post-rock music.

Most of the music Brooks plays is jazz-based and improvised, whereas Copilots is more rehearsed and structured traditional rock. It is, however, still far from the mainstream music industry.

The two friends used to play gigs in Mission years ago, including the night concerts at Heritage River Park, before Brooks moved to Vancouver. He spent eight years there, getting a music diploma from Vancouver Community College specializing in jazz, returning to Mission a few years ago to buy his childhood home in Silverdale.

Copilots released their self-titled debut album in 2007, and followed that up with the 10-track album Escape Through The Trees last year, touring western Canada. Brooks said the band will play select songs from both albums, as well as three new songs that haven’t been heard before.

Brooks said he still has to commute to Vancouver to do gigs or recording sessions, which is why playing in Mission has a nice homecoming feel to it.

“Mainly I’m focused on Vancouver, and I tour a lot, but I only recently started playing in Mission by doing house concerts.”

Brooks plays softer music as Copilots is too loud to play in front of a 40-person house concert, but it’s one way Brooks has started building his reputation as a hometown musician. He’ll have a chance to up the amps on Saturday.

“I’m looking forward to playing here and seeing some old friends.”

Copilots play at the Big B Saloon on Dec. 17 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door.

To sample their music, visit their website here.

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