One would ask how a new Pop/Rock band can stand out amongst the masses. The band Cooper has created the perfect music formula to do just that. By mixing a modern Pop/Rock sound with orchestral arrangements on the cello and piano Cooper has lined themselves right along with some of the best Pop/Rock bands that have their own unique sound. From winning several song-writing contests and having their music featured on MTV’s hot reality show “The Hills”; Cooper is on the road to success.
SayWhatNews: Thanks for taking the time and speaking with SayWhatNews. So, tell me who is Cooper?
Cooper: Thanks for having us! Well, much like Daughtry or Matchbox 20, Gavin DeGraw, Vertical Horizon, etc, Cooper is the creative vision of two people: myself (Rob Cooper) and cellist/pianist Daniel Cho. We’re a modern pop/rock band with orchestral arrangements on the cello/piano. No artist ever really likes to pigeon-hole themselves, but we are definitely pop/rock guys in the grand scheme of things with big hooks and lots of emotions.
SayWhatNews: The Band has been together a little over a year and is already causing a huge buzz. How did you guys meet?
Cooper: Ironically Dan and I met on Craig’s List a couple years ago and it started from there. I had posted an ad for a cellist to play acoustic shows with and Dan responded. I couldn’t have gotten any luckier—the guy has played sessions with John Mayer, Tracy Bonham and most recently Coldplay! He’s incredibly talented.
SayWhatNews: Cooper is a four member band. Introduce everyone to us and tell us who plays what instrument.
Cooper: Actually we’re a five piece band…but we have four permanent members.--me on vocals and guitars, Daniel Cho on cello/piano, Oscar Rodriguez on guitars/effects and Chris Matthews on drums. Our bass players change quite a bit and sometimes we actually play without one and Dan will play lower end notes on the cello.
SayWhatNews: When did you realize your talent?
Cooper: We have talent?! Oh I’m so happy to hear that—I’ll have to tell my mom so she can start sleeping at night! Honestly, I guess just before I moved to New York about three years ago I won a Billboard Magazine songwriting contest and that kind of affirmed me a bit. Prior to that I just thought I wanted to be a singer and was playing covers in bars in Tampa, FL. I had no idea what songwriting was about or how it really worked. Once the Billboard thing happened it opened a few doors and I was fortunate enough to get hooked up with some amazing contacts in NYC.
SayWhatNews: Do you have any formal training in singing/playing instruments?
Cooper: I don’t actually and I sometimes regret that. Part of me wants to know exactly what I’m playing at all times and how those chords work in theory with each other. The other part of me could care less and as long as it sounds good and leaves room for melody then I’m happy. I did take some vocal lessons from Don Lawrence here in New York and that was invaluable. The guy is a total genius. I mean, look what he did to me! Ha…
SayWhatNews: Who are your musical influences?
Cooper: Oh sh@$, well it would be easy to say I listen to everything (and actually I do) but lately it’s been a lot of local New York acts that are unsigned and pretty much undiscovered; Wes Hutchinson, Sundown, Atomic Tom, Jared Scharff and the Royals, Alex Seier, Dave Wilson, The Animators and etc. At the same time I’m a huge fan of 90’s rock and was there from the beginning with bands like Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Soundgarden, Nirvana and etc. And of course I love Coldplay, The Fray, Keane, Augustana, and I think OneRepublic is going to be one of the biggest bands of all time. They are amazing songwriters. Ultimately I’m a huge fan of melody and that could be anything from Pantera to The Beatles to Brett Dennen.
SayWhatNews: What sets Cooper apart from other modern rock/pop bands?
Cooper: I like to think a lot of it is musical phrasings and cello/piano arrangements. These days pop songs are a dime a dozen but if you can infuse something different or interesting that challenges the listener in even the slightest way then you stand out. Dan comes up with these amazing cello/piano lines that are like their own hooks and I think a lot of the new material we have demonstrates that much better. We really want to show him off!
SayWhatNews: You’ve won two major songwriting contests sponsored by BMI and Billboard Magazine; how surreal is that?
Cooper: It was pretty cool when it happened but I’m someone who’s not easily satisfied so for me it’s an attitude of “cool, but what’s next?” I’ve actually won quite a few songwriting contests outside of those two and it’s cool to know that your music is affecting people even if it’s only judges, but I’ve got much bigger aspirations than that too.
SayWhatNews: What gives you inspiration to write?
Cooper: A lot of my material comes just from life in general. I like to ask questions, I like to know why and I think a lot of individuals out there are struggling with real world issues from addiction to faith to indecision to depression, etc. It can be crippling. And I like to target that space between the chaos and the calm where people live their lives. Human existence is a delicate balance and I really like to explore what happens in people’s lives. Lately the themes have been much more intense and I think that delivers a lot of emotion to the songs.
SayWhatNews: Your song “Beautiful” landed a featured spot on Continental Airlines “Hit Factory” radio show; giving it airplay on every flight worldwide. Tell us how that came about.
Cooper: Well, if I may toot my own horn, we also just had “Aftertaste” picked up for the November-December cycle of this year which is the first time an unsigned artist has been chosen twice for the show. We’re flattered. Basically the way this whole thing came about is a buddy of mine named Mike Bisk was flying Continental and heard that they were taking submissions for unsigned artists and forwarded me the link. I thought it was a total long shot but sent them “Beautiful” anyways and sure enough a week later got a call that they were using it. We were played in between the Foo Fighters and Good Charlotte and this time we’re between Rilo Kiley and Amy Winehouse…we’re pretty excited.
SayWhatNews: MTV’s hot reality show “The Hills” has featured your music on their show twice. How amazing was that knowing millions of viewers heard your music?
Cooper: It was pretty cool—that’s been the coolest thing so far and I think mostly because it’s the most recent (October 2007). The first time we knew that they were going to use our song “Revolving Doors” but the second time we had no idea. I got a text message from a buddy of mine saying he heard it again on their show and sure enough it was there again. We’re very grateful to MTV for hooking it up and hope they keep using more stuff!
SayWhatNews: Cooper is currently unsigned; which would you prefer a Major label or Independent label and why?
Cooper: These days I think it would be very difficult to sign with a major label and even if you did I think it’s almost career suicide to do so. As obvious as this sounds, major label deals are immediately make or break. The days of artist development or multiple albums is coming to an end, at least on major labels, and an artist really has to deliver immediately or they’re dropped. I’ve heard too many stories to assume otherwise. That said, I do think there are some major labels doing some pretty innovate things—Interscope is just one example. I think a lot more labels are going to start having imprints and little indie feeder labels and there’s where an artist can find labels willing to develop and work with artists for the long term.
So in a nutshell, I think now we would be more excited about an indie label simply from a long-term perspective, but at this point we’re just looking to write more music and get it out there, label or not.
SayWhatNews: Which artist/group would you love to collaborate with?
Cooper: That’s a great question—today I would have to say OneRepublic and Ryan Tedder. I think he is an amazing talent. From a sheer songwriting perspective I think I’d like to get in a room with Bono, Eddie Vedder and someone like Jon Foreman of Switchfoot and just kick back and watch. There are artists like U2 and Pearl Jam who I think will never be replicated again and I would love to see how they operate and how they write songs. Pop bands like OneRepublic and Switchfoot have their own recipes but I’d like to be a fly on a wall to see how they go about producing those songs to make them sound so different.
SayWhatNews: You have been touring regionally with bands like Ludo and Edwin McCain. When can we expect a worldwide tour?
Cooper: Hey you tell me! We are a very hungry band and we’re absolutely looking to do as many shows as possible but right now that’s mostly the northeast area and some Midwest/southeast dates. Once this interview gets posted online maybe a big touring band will read it and take us on the road with them!
SayWhatNews: Tell us something we don’t know about Cooper.
Cooper: Well, most people probably don’t know that much at all about Cooper—so I can really say anything here! Well, I’ll say that 2008 is going to be an explosive year for us in many ways—we have A LOT of irons in the fire right now and so many things that I want to talk about but can’t. But I guess in regards to that question, we’re a band that really wants to connect with fans—and not just shaking hands and signing autographs, but we want to know about people, we want to get deep and connect with people. And I don’t think a lot of bands are like that.
SayWhatNews: What’s in the future for Cooper?
Cooper: Like I said, 2008 is going to be a busy year for us. I think people can expect A LOT of new songs, definitely some good tour dates and probably a lot of action on TV/film and maybe a couple ad campaigns this year. Our goal is to reach a big audience and we don’t take our goals lightly so it’s all about hard work and consistency…and maybe a little luck!