Steve Coplan is living proof that you never know what path life is going to lead you down.
Coplan is a graduate of Louisiana State University, where his studies centered around the world of physics. The Arlington, Va. native had visions of a life in science, but that changed when he started hanging out with a group of friends at LSU who belonged to a band. Soon, Coplan was learning both sound and how to set up a stage.
After college, Coplan went to work for a sound company in Little Rock, Ark., which later led to him securing a job as the road manager for the band Shenandoah. He hasn't stopped traveling since, today working as the tour manager for country music sensation Trace Adkins.
"Every day you're doing the same thing, but your office is always changing," Coplan, now a Nashville, Tenn. resident, says of life out on the road.
A lot has changed since Adkins' manager, John Dennis, first approached Coplan about taking on his current role.
"When I first came on board, it wasn't a pretty sight," recalls Coplan. "[Trace] went through alcohol rehab the Christmas after I started working for him. I got to see a taste of the dark side of Trace's drinking days. He's been sober three years now. It was kind of testing at that point of, 'Hey, is this the gig that I want to be doing?' We were on one bus pulling a trailer. There were 12 guys, including Trace, riding on one bus. It's changed a lot just in the course of the three years that I've been involved."
There is no denying that. Since Coplan climbed aboard, Adkins has had two platinum records and one gold record. Three of his tracks have been top-five singles.
"I'd love to sit here and tell you that I had all the doings of creating his career, but the truth is a lot of people are responsible," he says. "But in all honesty, I was part of that success."
Oddly enough, Coplan originally signed on board for about 30 shows to close out a year, but here he is three years later and he's still leading the way for Adkins out on the road. And in country music, being out on the road is an entirely different meaning.
"Country music is different than say pop," explains Coplan. "The majority of the county artists are touring year-round. You have your exceptions with the top-touring artists like Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney and Alan Jackson. Those artists will go out and just work 40-60 days a year and that's it. They can do that. The majority of the artists need to be out and working 90-120 shows a year to make their money."
Which means being away from loved ones, for what the single Coplan estimates to be 275 days a year.
"I don't know how they do it," Coplan says of the majority of Adkins' traveling team, which is married. "It's tough. You're gone so much. I couldn't do it if I had a family."