Phoenix desert Hard Rockers CO-OP, fronted by Dash Cooper, son of legendary Rock vocalist Alice Cooper, have announced the release date for their self-titled EMP LABEL GROUP debut, in stores June 15, and dates for a spring tour with FLAW. Music Madness had the opportunity to speak with Dash about the new album, the band, and his golf game.
Music Madness: Congrats on the upcoming release and the new tour! Digging the new music and the new tour kicked off this week.
Dash: Oh man, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Ah, yeah, just this week. We had one show with Flaw two nights ago and then we had a one off show last night in St. Louis. The release is June 15.
Music Madness: Tell us about CO-OP.
Dash: We classify ourselves as “Desert Hard Rock.” Just like that dirty, gritty, classic rock mixed with modern tones, and I think it’s something that a lot of bands do, but I think that we do it very, very well. I think it’s kind of something that you listen to our music, and you can be a metal head, and you can be a classic rocker, and you can still just get what we’re doing. I think that everybody who listens to this will get a little something out of it.
Music Madness: The band has been playing together for a few years but is just releasing your first album. Will it be newer music or a compilation of everything you’ve played over that period?
Dash: There are a few songs that have made it through to the final album. But, we’ve actually written a bunch of new ones that are coming out on this album too. So, we did select a few that are going to stick around but for the most part, new songs for the album. It’s going to be great. We were just trying to be instrumental in releasing it, at a time when we thought it would be best for the band. And give us the most opportunity to be heard.
Music Madness: It’s a good time right now.
Dash: Absolutely man.
Music Madness: Tell us about the new music and the songs that carried over?
Dash: We had an EP that came out about a year and a half ago; some of those are coming over, on to the new album. Then we had written about five or six new songs for the actual release, and the band has had a little bit of turnover since then, so that was one of the reasons why it’s been pushed back just a little bit. We were a five piece and now we are a four-piece, which is interesting.
We had two guitar players, bass, drums and my singing. Now we only have one guitar player. So, and not by choice, actually, right before the tour, our buddy Colby, he was in the band, he fell and broke his arm on a BMX bike. So he wasn’t able to make this tour with us. We’ve had to improvise and now our guitar player, Jeremy, is actually playing all the parts.
Music Madness: Is the four-piece band a temporary thing?
Dash: We’ll see how things go. Right now, everything is sounding really good. So I mean, we might just keep it that way. We don’t know.
Music Madness: Is Old Scratch making its way onto the album? Great tune, it has that classic rock feel but heavier.
Dash: Scratch is making its way over, yeah. Thank you, man. Yeah, kind of like that fuzzy, dirty thing.
Music Madness: Any summer tours coming up or is it all hush-hush?
Dash: I don’t know if it’s hush-hush. I know they’re planning some stuff, but I haven’t been apprised to it yet. I think we’re going to be touring … once the album comes out; we’re going to be hitting it pretty hard, trying to promote the album.
Music Madness: Right on. It seems like summer tours are revolving around these massive festival shows for rock and metal bands these days. Have you guys thought about going the festival route?
Dash: This tour is smaller clubs, but we’re packing them out every night. Flaw even has huge draws. They have really diehard fans in some of the crowds. So, we’re the new guys. We’re gaining fans every night, and people are loving the music and stuff but I’m hoping that once the record hits, that hopefully maybe we’ll get a little charting and stuff, and maybe we can get on these bigger shows.
Music Madness: All right. You need to get your asses down to Florida.
Dash: I would love that.
Music Madness: What’s going on out in Arizona? There seems to be a plethora of young, talented rock/metal bands making noise out in the dessert.
Dash: Lot of great bands coming out of Arizona right now. There’s a band called the Black Moods, that are really great, that are out of there right now. You should definitely check them out. Arizona’s great. It’s just the scene down there … the music scene, it’s really hard to get people to come out and watch shows.
That’s just the culture down there. It’s really hard unless you’re really an established act, and everybody knows who you are and you are on the radio and all that, you know people will come down and watch you but it’s hard to get people to come out, even on a weekend. During a weekday, forget about it.
Music Madness: What was the best advice someone gave you when you decided to be a musician?
Dash: Let’s see. Shep Gordon, my dad’s manager, always said, “Get the money. Get the money and show them the money.” That’s always a funny one.
Even my dad said, “I don’t understand music necessarily more these days.” He’s like, “I don’t understand what’s good and what’s rock and what’s pop and what’s whatever …” You know everything is so blended. But he said, “You’re always one song or one step away from just blowing up.” Because we’re in an age of immediacy, with the internet and everything.
If you write a great song and people hear it, and they like it, there’s your ticket in. It’s just you have to persistently be doing your art. You can’t just do something and then sit back and go, “Well, this didn’t work.” You know what I mean.
Music Madness: Oh absolutely. Marketing yourselves these days is critical especially online and through social media.
Dash: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Music Madness: I mean, how many bands can become a YouTube sensation and end up touring with The Red Hot Chili Peppers? That happened to Baby Metal. I guess anything is possible right.
Dash: I mean anything. I mean it’s like, if you can get like a niche or something, you go ahead and do it. I’ve made it a point though that I’m not going to be the guy that puts on the make-up. You know what I mean.
Because that’s Alice’s (Cooper) thing, you know, that’s what he does. I’m just going to go out there and do my thing and I’m trying to let the music speak for itself, ’cause we got something pretty good here. We’re pretty proud of it and we think it stands on its own two legs.
I mean, people go to a show to see the show. It’s not necessarily just a band playing music anymore. It’s like there’s got to be a production behind it. They spend a lot of money on those production things. You know, it’s like a lot of bands out there, I mean, really, some of them aren’t even the best of bands, but their production is so amazing, it almost makes them feel better … you know what I mean?
Music Madness: So writing, recording, videos, touring, performing. What steps in the process do you enjoy the most?
Dash: I was going to say, somebody asked me earlier, “Do I like writing songs or playing live on stage?” And I said, “It’s a really tough question because you know, it’s like, I love the creative juices that you get when you’re writing and all the camaraderie and all the input and everything. And you get that product together and you record it, and you make it the way it’s like perfectly supposed to be. But then you go and you play it on stage, you know, and you’re playing it for people and you’re sharing it with the world and people are sharing in that experience. And that’s a really good feeling too, so I would have to say, performing live, really, would probably be my favorite thing.
Music Madness: Yeah, I can see that. Just the excitement, the energy level and the whole vibe of it. It must be an amazing feeling.
Dash: Yeah, just to see people banging their head with what you’re doing. It’s like a silent affirmation that you’re doing something right.
Music Madness: Which part of the process do you think is the most challenging?
Dash: Oh, the most challenging is just being on the road. Just getting out here and doing shows every single night, just really grinding it, trying to make it, because really, that’s the only way these days that you’re going to sell yourself, is because you have to sell your CDs. You really can’t sell music on the internet anymore.
I heard something, a statistic awhile back … I guess it was a guy who played on like three major pop stars records, and all of them were really, really high charted. I think they got millions and millions and millions of plays, and the guy got like a check for like $800 bucks or something like that.
Music Madness: That’s crazy.
Dash: You know what I mean. He wrote the songs and he’s got the publishing and you’re like, “What’s going on here?” No, I mean, honestly, it’s like, they’re kind of forcing the artist’s hands, when you can’t make enough money to support what you’re doing, you have to make it up somewhere else. And I mean, the only way else to do it, is to get on stage, play your show, sell your merch, sell your CDs and just move onto the next city, and keep going really. Just keep doing it.
Music Madness: Maybe you need to release it in vinyl form only just to fuck with people and make some money.
Dash: That would be great, wouldn’t it? I hope they end up doing that. When our album comes out. That’d be great.
Music Madness: Do you remember when they would do vinyl in color?
Dash: Oh yeah. My dad just did an album not too long ago and they released it in blood red vinyl. It was really cool.
Music Madness: Oh, see, that’s awesome. Hey, it’s all about marketing.
Dash: Oh, it is indeed. I mean honestly, they still sound great. They really do capture that kind of old, you know, unprocessed feel. They really have that really cool sound to it.
Music Madness: Isn’t your dad like a scratch golfer? So, how’s your golf game?
Dash: My golf game is not terrible. But, it does lack a little bit. Unfortunately, I don’t get to play as much as he does. I mean, he’s got the ultimate job in the world. He’s gets to get up and play golf in the morning, then plays rock and roll at night. That’s like, I think, every man’s dream.
Music Madness: Yeah, right! Therefore, you’re saying he kicks your ass in golf.
Dash: You know, I hit the ball a lot farther than him, but he hits the ball a lot straighter than me. So, that really does, factor out the advantage. I think the last time I played with him he’s was playing a four handicap.
Music Madness: Nice.
Dash: And I’m no slouch, I play to about a seven or a six, but he still gets me by one every time. But then again, he does hold the pencil, so I think he might just pencil one in every now and again.
Music Madness: Of course. Hey, as a dad, you gotta have some perks, man.
Dash: Yeah, right. “Yeah, that was a birdie.”
Music Madness: What bands or artists inspired you to want to perform? I’m sure growing up in a musical household played a huge part in that decision.
Dash: No absolutely. I love a lot of bands. I mean, growing up my dad, and my mom had me listening to The Beatles and the Beach Boys, The Four Seasons. That’s where I got the inspiration to start singing. Then as I progressed, as I got a little bit older, I started listening to more of the classic stuff like you know, obviously listening to Alice’s records and listening to AC/DC, Aerosmith and all those great, classic rock bands. As I got older, and we started this band, I started to open my musical library a little more, and I started listening to a little more of the modern bands, and stuff like that. I’m a big fan of Rage Against the Machine. I love bands like, Bullet for My Valentine. I think those guys are all great. I listened to stuff like that and try and write in that style. But, still, try to keep it a little bit my own.
One of my favorite bands out there today, is Airbourne. I love that band. It’s like AC/DC junior and it’s awesome. I mean it’s just like that’s what I need to hear more of.
Music Madness: Well if it gives you that energy. That’s awesome.
Dash: It’s all energy. That’s all energy.
Music Madness: Did Alice take you guys on tour as kids or was it separation of church and state?
Dash: We did when we were a lot younger. As we got older, my mom wanted us to be in school obviously and obviously, we did too, because we had friends and stuff like that, so it was good to be in public school and stuff. They didn’t want to put us in private school. They wanted us to get a regular education and stuff like that.
And feel a sense of normalcy, and I’m really glad they did that. I would say, up until like Kindergarten, I was out a lot. You know, I was out on the road a lot with my parents. But ever since I went to Kindergarten, first grade, my mom would stay home with us, and you know, hang out. It’s really great for her now, because now that all the kids are out of the house, she’s back on the road again with my dad sometimes. So, she’s loving it.
Music Madness: Isn’t one of your sisters is in a band?
Dash: Yeah, yeah. My sister Calico is in Beasto Blanco and the lead singer is my dad’s bass player Chuck Garric.
Music Madness: So you guys need to do like a full family tour, all three acts.
Dash: That would- See, I was saying that. I was like, “That would be the coolest thing ever.” But you know the powers that be are like, “Let’s make that happen. Come on, guys.”
Music Madness: I understand that you are involved with your dad’s Solid Rock Teen Center. Is that kind of like a School of Rock?
Dash: Yeah, it’s kind of like that. It’s a Christian organization for at-risk youths. He helps them get into a community center where they can learn guitar, music, dance, drums, whatever they want to learn, and it’s all free.
Music Madness: That’s awesome. And to raise money for the foundation you’ve had the chance to jam with some classic rock legends. How has it been being a back-up band and jamming with those guys on stage? Is there one that stands out more than another?
Dash: Oh man, it’s a super privilege. It’s really cool to be able to be that. To kind of be like the in-house band and have all these rock and roll stars come, and you’re just sitting there going, “Oh my gosh, I’m playing on stage with this guy.” I mean, we played on stage with Robby Krieger from The Doors. We played on stage with Tommy Thayer from KISS. We got to play with Alex Lyson. I mean, just really cool rock and roll guys that you just never think you’re actually going to see these people in person, and then here you are on stage, like playing their songs with them.
Music Madness: Those are great memories to have. Were you able take anything from those experiences?
Dash: Yeah, I mean, just watching these guys, just the utmost professionals. I watched them play. And you know I watched them … sometimes I’ll stand out to the side of the stage, while they’re doing the soundcheck, and I’ll watch them do it couple times, and everything is the same every time. There’s no ad-libbing. They just know exactly what they’re doing. They’ve been doing it for so long and they do it better than anybody else, so I mean it’s just always great to watch the utmost professionals at work.
Music Madness: There are some kick-ass female led rock and metal bands tearing it up right now. Do you have any favorites?
Dash: Well, Halestorm’s killing it. She’s so amazing.
Music Madness: Yeah, she is.
Dash: There was one that I was listening to for a while and I’m not sure if they’re actually still a band anymore called Damone that I really liked awhile back. Great singer named Noel. They were really, really cool. Taylor from The Pretty Reckless can really sing. They sound great. She looks great. I mean they are just rockers, and I love it.
Music Madness: I appreciate you taking the time to talk some music with me, and I really look forward to hearing the rest of the tracks on the LP. I look forward to seeing you guys in Florida sooner than later.
Dash: Absolutely man. We can’t wait to get down there, and I really appreciate you having me on and look forward to doing it again soon.
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Interview by Steve Carlos