By Brandon Judeh
The Hopkins brothers’ home, deep in the woods near Rogers, is an inviting place to visit on a crisp spring evening.
As soon as you set foot into the living room, visitors are greeted with the warmth of a fire stove, record player and a plethora of vinyl.
The Hopkins — Jason (bass, vocals) and Josh (drums) — and longtime pal Winfield Dray comprise the rock band ALBUM, and the brothers’ home is where the band’s magic begins because it doubles as a practice space.
The trio took a break from practice to talk about their latest album, “Zephaniah,” and the long, strange journey of the record came to light.
Finished in 2010, “Zephaniah” didn’t see the light of day until January of this year when a German record label called High Roller Records released it after receiving a touching email from Josh.
“I got in a mood where I started emailing some record companies,” said Josh. “I sent them the links to our Facebook pages, a week later [High Roller] got back to me and things rolled from there.”
Within a matter of months, ALBUM had themselves a record, and at no cost.
The band says things were often frustrating as they patiently waited to release “Zephaniah.” Money was running low, and so was patience.
“Stuff kept not happening after we recorded,” said Jason. “It’s so expensive to do this stuff, especially when you want to put a record out on white and black vinyl.”
ALBUM’s new release is a mini-concept album full of slow-sludgy riffs, ’70s metal and even a little synth, thanks to the contributions of Andy Conrad on the album’s “Prologue.”
Overall, “Zephaniah” sounds like a book with three mind-bending chapters: “Shout of the Warrior,” “Ballad of Zephaniah” and “When Nations Collide.”
Around the time of its release, Josh, Jason and Winfield searched the Internet for reviews of the album, that came not only from the U.S. but other countries.
“Josh was looking around online and found reviews from Austria and France, so we ran them through every translating website we could find so we could read them and find out what they were saying about us,” Jason said.
All of the articles were positive, commending the trio for its sound and content.
“Zephaniah” was produced by Pete Drivere at Ampreon Recorder in Youngstown, and the city’s influence runs through the release.
“If it wasn’t for the city of Youngstown and all the connections we made there, we would not be sitting here doing this interview,” said Dray.