CO-OP: It's Hardly Shocking that Rock and Roll Runs Through This Rock and Roll Son's Veins
In this business, you have to learn to keep your cool around rock royalty. As a karew, we have a good laugh when one of us starts acting like a "fan boy," or when an interview subject starts getting belligerent (I'm not mentioning any names, but it might have been head honcho Doug Van Pelt and a certain Henry Rollins;) So I jumped at the chance to interview Dash Cooper, singer for hard rock outfit Co-Op, whose debut drops in June, and offered to let him take a swing at me if I mentioned his famous father Al--- (oh look, I caught myself that time)- too many times. Did I mention that the interview that Doug Van Pelt did with Alice back in 1994 has been one of our top fan favorites in our magazine's history?
Hey Dash, This is Chris Gatto, with Heaven's Metal magazine. It's a pleasure to connect with you and chat about your life as a musician and about your band Co-Op's soon-to-be released debut album. What made you want to start in rock music, and how'd you find a voice all your own?
Dash: I was born into a very musical family. I decided when I was younger to try my voice out in a high school band that we threw together called Runaway Phoenix. We used to do classic rock, pop and punk rock songs. It wasn’t until the end of that band that I started listening to more modern stuff and really enjoyed it. I wanted desperately to still keep that classic rock vibe so I kind of started singing more rough and harder over classic rock stuff and it seemed to blend well. We modified it from there and here we are!
How did Co-Op start and where do you hope to go with the band?
Dash: CO-OP started around 2012 after I graduated college and got married. I always wanted to do music for a living, but I wanted to get my degree first. Music is fun to me and I feel like we are at a level now where we can make a career out of it. That’s all I hope for in terms of where it goes, just to be a sustainable career for my family and that I’ll always enjoy what I’m doing.
It's certainly a different era in the rock industry, both financially and technologically. Do you think you'll have a different path to success than Alice Cooper did back when he started?
Dash: Absolutely it is. Money isn’t made on albums anymore and it’s extremely rare to sell a million copies of a disc or record anymore. Alice brought something new to the music world at the right time in rock and roll. He’s an innovator and deserves all the credit and success he’s had and still getting. I think the only way to be successful in this business is to always be working. Constant touring and building your brand is the only way to make a living in the band music business these days. The more you play live, the bigger the opportunities get. Online sales are nice, but they don’t yield much return financially. Playing shows and selling your product and merchandise is the key to success for bands.
I see more of a nod to Alice in Chains and some of the other 90's alt metal/rock bands in your music. What are your influences and what styles of music do you call your own?
Dash: AIC was definitely a band we dug when we started this project. We love 90s rock modern metal and classic rock. We like to call ourselves Desert Hard Rock which we classify as a dirty modern vibe with a gritty classic rock edge.
You have a raspy, bluesy quality to your vocals. Is it more of a strain to maintain that same vocal style while out on the road? (I'm thinking of guys like Brian Johnson that have sung that way for decades.)
Dash: I think it’s all about balance. If you see us live, you will hear me jump from rasp to clean a lot. I think longevity-wise you have to pick and choose how you sing live. Also technique is key. If you aren’t careful, you will thrash your voice. It’s happened to a lot of high profile artists but those guys are constantly touring and singing hard daily. It hasn’t been a problem for me yet, but it’s important to be prepared and learn new techniques to protect your voice for the long run.
Everyone wants their art or life work to say something about them after they're gone. Not to be morbid, but if it all ended tonight, what is the message you would want to leave the world with your music?
Dash: I would want people to know that CO-OP loved rock n roll. We wanted to be relevant to real daily issues that people face and let people know that it’s ok to let your emotions, thoughts, beliefs and feelings show through music or otherwise.
Our magazine Heaven's Metal Magazine has always been geared towards that strange group of people who love both God and heavy metal music. Your dad has a beautiful story of returning to a faith in God after experiencing the excesses of the rock and roll world, a story that, no doubt, you've lived through. Who is God to you, or what faith experiences are you willing to share with our readers?
Dash: I am a follower of Christ. I became a Christian in high school and I think a lot of my tunes hint at that fact. I’m not a shove it in your face kind of guy, but I’m not shy about it either. I like being able to be open in my music and write creatively within my faith. I like writing creatively like that too because it feels more rebellious than writing like a lot of other bands do today. It’s risky and scary to a lot of people to talk about GOD and faith in music because it’s considered a taboo subject unless you're an Alt Christian or Gospel artist. I like to take a lot of responsibility with my writing because I feel like if you’re in a position for a lot of people to hear what you’re talking about or singing about, you had better make it count. In a way, it’s an avenue of sharing who you are and your beliefs.
Are there things that you want to avoid doing based on advice from Alice?
Dash: Alice has only ever given me the best advice. I really appreciate all my dad has done for me and taught me because he’s been there and is still there! It’s invaluable to have someone in your corner to share how the business used to be and has progressed in it as things have drastically changed. He’s never shared any advice that we’ve absolutely turned down. I think he is very savvy in the music business and gets what we are trying to accomplish. He’s great at watching from an arm's distance and always available for advice or great ideas!
Do you find that being the son of a legendary performer opens doors for you, or do you find it hard to escape your dad's shadow?
Dash: I think it definitely opens doors for us. However once it’s open we have to walk through it and bring the goods. I feel like there’s a responsibility that I have to bring a great performance night after night because people have so many expectations of what I’ll be or what we’ll sound like. I can tell you now I won’t slather on the eye makeup or get under any guillotines any time soon, so if you’re expecting that, sorry. People will be impressed, I believe. I have a killer band backing me and the music stands on its own! I’m not sure if I’ll ever escape his shadow because that’s the space that people give me. I believe we are talented enough and our songs are awesome enough to just be Dash Cooper and CO-OP. However that’s for the fans to decide. We’ll bring the same epic show and the same great songs in whatever space we occupy.
There's a lot of bands out there trying to make it big, and few of them ever do. What will constitute success for you? Or will that be a step by step process?
Dash: I define success as sustainability and joy. If I can provide for myself and my family and love what I’m doing every day, I’m succeeding. Sure it would be great to be able to play giant arenas in front of thousands of fans. I think it is a step by step process from a commercial standpoint. It’s always a goal to try to get to that level. But as it stands now, we love playing in front of a few hundred people in clubs. It’s intimate and we are gaining more fans and making more friends on a daily basis. I think that’s invaluable in our career.
What's your favorite song on the Co-Op debut and why?
Dash: I like the song "N.O.W." because it gives me a chance to speak my mind about the state of the world right now. A lot of people think it’s political, but really it’s an ode to people to wake up and do something if they don’t like the way things are. Many people complain about the world but aren’t willing to lift a finger to spark change.
Your debut album drops in June. What're your plans with Co-Op and who are you going to tour with?
Dash: The album drops June 15th and we plan to be heavily touring after the birth of my third child in late July. We hope to be out on the road in August to promote the album!
Thanks Dash, for taking the time to answer some questions, and best of luck with the new baby and new album. Hope to catch a live Co-Op show sometime if you play near Philly!