Interview with Dash Cooper - Vocalist of CO-OP
Dash Cooper, that is a name everyone should be familiar with and if you’re not, there’s no time like the present to get to know him, to know the band, and to know the music that is CO-OP. Son of legendary Alice Cooper, Dash is the front man of Phoenix desert hard-rockers, CO-OP. Tonight, while in the presence of a beautiful, picturesque, frozen lake in Iowa, he took a break from his busy tour schedule to relax and chat with me a little. It is priceless when someone takes time to walk us through their musical journey. He gave a bit of insight into his career and how he got from being that little kid traveling on tour with his dad so many years ago to the aspiring musician and vocalist he is today. Even through little side-tracked conversations like ours, there is an abundance of personal knowledge to be gained. CO-OP is currently burning up the stages on tour supporting Flaw and The Crowned. Their self-titled, full length, debut album is set to be released on June 15th through EMP Label Group.
TSOM: Growing up the son of Alice Cooper, did you know early on that you wanted to follow the same path?
Dash: Not exactly. I always had the passion for music when I was younger, but I just kind of decided when I was older. I’d never tried really singing with a group or anything. When I was about six or seven years old, I joined the youth choir at my church and my mom told me I had a good voice and told me I should probably pursue that and see where else I could take it. I decided to do some talent shows in elementary school and middle school and stuff like that. Then in high school I just wanted to move on and expand my craft a little bit so I started a band.
TSOM: How did CO-OP come about?
Dash: Well it’s a very long story but I can sum it up for ya’. I was in a previous band before called Runaway Phoenix. We did that for a long time. It was about 2010 when we were like “nah, we don’t think we wanna’ do this anymore” so I took about a two-year break from music while I was in college. I met my wife while I was in college and we got married in 2011. While that was happening, I wasn’t doing the whole music thing. I just decided to pick it back up in 2012 and start a band with the former drummer, who is actually my best friend, Mark Savale. He and I started the band and called it CO-OP and just started fresh doing something different. Over the years we progressed and got a little better. We were writing some better songs. We finally met up with Dave Ellefson from EMP Label Group and he liked out stuff so they actually ended up signing us to a record deal over there. As time went on we did our first album, recorded it and mastered it. In that time frame both my guitar player and my drummer, Mark Savale, had children and just couldn’t do it anymore, with the time that the band deserved so they stepped aside and we got some new members and that’s where we are today. Mark and I have been friends since we were 5 years old and I’m 32 now and we’re still best friends. There are no hard feelings there. I know how that is. I have two twin boys myself and a third on the way. My twins are three years old and I have one due on July 27th. TSOM: How did you choose the band name? Is it a play-off of Cooper?
Dash: A little bit, partially Cooper, but at the same time with CO-OP, you’ve got the dash in the middle. Hey, hey, that’s me! Just the meaning of the name is togetherness, unity, and stuff like that so I thought that was a good way to form it too, for it to have a little meaning to it.
TSOM: Your style is a bit different from your dad’s style, obviously and I read how varied some of your influences are. What made you choose a more “mixed” style path with the music you create? Dash: You know, I kind of just listened to all these bands growing up and I moved toward the more modern side of music. That just seemed more my style and more my cup of tea. Really, my vocal pattern fit more of a lower register than my dads does. He sings in more of a standard tuning and I’m more of a D standard kind of thing.
TSOM: Being Alice Coopers son couldn’t have hurt you in this business but everyone wants their own identity in this industry. Has it been hard to separate CO-OP as an individual musical entity of its own?
Dash: Not for myself but for people that are hearing us for the first time, I think everyone has this preconceived notion that I’m going to show up on stage with makeup on and a snake around my neck or something. I think a lot of people, when they hear CO-OP, featuring the son of Alice Cooper, think I’m going to try to one up him or something, or try to do something very similar to him which is really not what I’m aiming for or what I’m going for. We’re getting out there to do our own thing and as it sits, we really don’t promote ourselves that way but we understand that’s how the music industry is and that’s how they wanna’ sell tickets so that’s how they project it out there.
TSOM: Were you on the road with your dad a lot as a kid?
Dash: Yeah, I was actually. Before preschool and kindergarten, I was out there a lot. I was actually out there during The Trash Tour in like 89-90, the hey day of his metal career. Everything was really cool. I was out there, like I said, until about kindergarten, and then I was at home with my mom a lot. The funny thing is, now that all the kids are out of the house…I mean, I’m the middle kid, my older sister is 37, I’m 32, and my baby sister is 26, but anyway, now that we’re all out of the house, my mom is back on the road with my dad full time. She’s excited to be out there with him.
TSOM: Does your upcoming album artwork have a significant meaning?
Dash: No, actually we just really like good, modern steam punky imagery and this looked really tough and kind of almost like a futuristic cyborg; like where the future of rock is going or something like that. When they presented that to me, I was like “wow, this is really cool”. It was done by Melody Myers and she is just such a good artist. We are so grateful to her. TSOM: Did you know Melody already or did someone bring her to your attention?
Dash: She was introduced to us through one of our label reps and companies. She’s done some great work for us. She’s done a lot of photos for us and some graphic designs. We owe her a lot. It’s really cool what she’s been doing and she just keep continuing to surprise us with more and more cool stuff. I have no graphic design ability in my blood. She can draw. I cannot. TSOM: Tell me something about your involvement and your work with Alice Coopers Solid Rock Teen Center.
Dash: The organization is about giving kids an alternative. It’s about letting them come in and have the option to learn music, to learn art, to learn dance; just to give them options other than what they would have if say, drugs were brought to them or if there was a domestic violence situation, where they’d have a place to go. It’s a completely free environment where they can learn all these skills or trades. You can learn how to be a guitarsmith. You can learn how to be a sound engineer. You can learn how to be a dance teacher. You can learn so many things at this organization. They really do offer a lot for kids for zero money and I think that’s just the greatest thing ever. As a kid, you never know what you’re gonna’ be good at unless you try it. A kid coming in off the street could be the next Jimmy Hendrix. You know what I mean? You could go in there and learn the guitar and be the next guy. You just never know and it’s just really great to be able to offer them that opportunity just to see if they enjoy it.
TSOM: Kudos to you all for doing that, for providing ways for kids to try to find direction.
TSOM: You’ve shared the stage with some extremely big names already; KISS, Motley Crue, I mean what the hell? There are bands that have been playing for years that would kill to be on tour with legendary bands like that. Last year your toured with Doll Skin who I absolutely adore. Are there any special, stand out moments you can describe so far? Dash: We’ve definitely been very blessed so far. On that tour last year was also One-Eyed Doll. That tour was killer. Talk about a show! Kimberly can really put on a show. That tour was great. It was our first tour under EMP Label Group so we were kind of the rookies out there but both bands made us feel super welcome. It was a really good match all three of those bands together. Now we’re out with Flaw and The Crowned and my goodness what a great lineup. This is a heavy, heavy, heavy tour. We’re all enjoying ourselves out here. All the guys are great.
TSOM: What are you most excited about on this tour?
Dash: The most exciting thing for me just happened. We just played Chicago a couple of weeks ago and that was my first time being back since I was born there. I was born in Oak Park. To get to come back for the first time and to get to play there was really special for me. The place we played was in Joliette and that’s only about 30 minutes away from where I was born so it was kind of cool. We’ve never really been away from the west coast aside from a couple of shows so this is our first Midwest tour and we’re really excited about that. I think hopefully once the album comes out we’ll get to come back and even head east maybe. Gotta’ get over to Georgia!
TSOM: How has your relationship with David Ellefson evolved since you teamed up? Dash: It’s been really good. I didn’t know this personally but he lives in Arizona so he lives about 20 minutes away from where I live. Once we started talking, we kind of have a standing thing where every month we go out and get coffee and talk about what’s going on. We talk about strategies and how we’re going to attack the next album. We talk about how we’re going to work the next tour and the marketing and everything. I’m so blessed that I have that one on one time with him. I mean I get it, I’m the kid of Alice Cooper, but you still think that sometimes people are unattainable, you know; I mean the rock stars and people like that, but he really does make the time for us. I feel like his label, EMP, is really good to their artists. I’ve been telling people that we’re such a young band in the sense of us being on the newer side, and the label is pretty new itself, like in the last couple of years, so it’s a really good marriage because we are feeding off of each other and growing with each other. We’re really helping each other out as opposed to one dominating the other or one being so above the other. I think it’s a really good fit.
TSOM: We’re you familiar with him on a personal level beforehand?
Dash: I was a huge Megadeth fan but no actually, my dad had been pretty good friends with Dave Mustaine for a long time so they knew each other very well. I’m sure my dad knew Dave Ellefson as well but I’d never had the opportunity to meet him until this past year. It’s been great. It’s come full circle. It’s funny because Dave always tells me that Alice took Megadeth on their first tour so I think it’s really coming back around with Dave taking CO-OP out there on our first tour.
TSOM: As far a song writing goes for CO-OP, is it a collaborative effort between the band mates or are there specific duties for each member to accommodate?
Dash: We like to approach it with everyone bringing something to the table. We kind of throw everything out of the hat and then just piece things together. I write most all of the lyrics pretty much but I will contribute to the music every now and then. The guys I have are just great writers so they always come in with really cool stuff. It makes my job so much easier just writing lyrics because they know how I sing. They know my style so they know how to write in my timbre which makes it a whole lot easier for me. TSOM: Not having a familiarity with your band prior to hearing of this tour, it’s refreshing to see a band play with some of the same base line of the older music while incorporating a more modern style to it as well. “Sleep” is probably my favorite song from last years EP and I’m eager to hear the new album. Do you have a favorite song from the new album? If so, what and why?
Dash: One of my favorite songs is the single that we’re going to release pretty son. It’s called “N.O.W.”. It stands for No One Walks and I think it’s going to be a really cool song and people are going to really dig that one a lot.
TSOM: I like what I’ve heard of it so far, but a 25 second preview was just enough of a tease to leave me dangling there wanting more. From what little I did hear, it sounds like it’s going to be great though. TSOM: What is the most fun song to play live and why?
Dash: The most fun song to play live is off of the EP and it’s called “Overdrive”. That one has progressed over time and we’ve turned it into a really melodic rock-riff. We normally end our set with that so it gets people going with that last bit of energy we have on stage. It gets people ready for Flaw so we’re really excited about that one. “Sleep” has kind of a stoner rock vibe. TSOM: Many people would pick bands you’ve already shared stages with, but I have to ask who would you pick as part of your dream tour?
Dash: If it were three bands including us to open up, I would say it would be Co-op opening for well, if it were possible to bring Rage Against the Machine back, that would be the big one for me. I would say one of my favorite bands right now is that band out of Australia called Airborne. I love, love, love that band. It’s like they resurrected AC/DC and I love that. One of my favorite modern metal bands is Bullet for My Valentine. I would open up for all three of those bands and it would be amazing.
TSOM: One of our regrets is never going to see Rage Against the Machine when they were together. Them and Beastie Boys before Adam Yauch died. We had free tickets and something kept us from being able to make it. Its’s truly one of our biggest regrets ever as far as concerts go.
Dash: I’ll tell you what, I was kicking myself because Rage Against the Machine had the breakup or the hiatus and everything and then they did that L.A. Rising show with Muse and Rise Against. I spent $300 on a ticket and I went and it was the best decision I ever made. People were setting fires in the stands and dancing around. It was scary and intense and I was in bliss. It was the coolest thing because I thought I would never, ever get to see rage Against the Machine. I was very happy about that.
TSOM: Rise Against is great in concert. I didn’t realize how much I liked them until I saw them live about 3 or 4 years ago. Once I saw them live, even though I really liked them before, it upped the game. I felt the same way about AFI when I saw them live for the Crash Love Tour years ago. It’s funny how your love and appreciation for a band can amplify the moment you see them live.
Dash: I’m with you on AFI, ever since their December Underground album came out, it was such a great album. I went to that tour and oh my gosh, I heard all the old songs that I heard in high school and middle school. It was about a two hour show and they killed it.
TSOM: Growing up, what was your favorite concert experience?
Dash: I would like to say it was Rage Against the Machine but it wasn’t. When I was very, very, young, my dad took me to a Paul McCartney show and I got to go back and meet Paul McCartney and that was by far the coolest thing ever. That was just hands down the coolest experience. That was the music that my dad grew up with and had me growing up listening to. He didn’t force it on me but he was always listening to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, and The Four Seasons. I think that’s where I got that foundation of classic rock and roll and then it progressed into the Led Zeppelin’s and the AC/DC’s, and the more guitar driven bands.
TSOM: You always remember your first concert and your favorite concert. My first concert was The Outfield. My most memorable was Live in 1997 and verruca salt opened for them. I was 9 months pregnant and I’m not sure if I remember it so much because I love the band or because I was so pregnant and ready to pop at any time. It was great though.
Dash: Holy…you said the Outfield? I loved them. That’s awesome.
TSOM: Since I’m out of questions I guess that’s my cue. I’ll close with wishing you guys the best of luck on the final leg of the tour and the upcoming album release. You’ve been so fun and entertaining. I hope to catch a show in the future if indeed you get to the east coast.
Remaining Tour Dates:
CO-OP (Supporting Flaw)
5 Minneapolis, MN - Studio B
6 Eau Claire, WI - The Playhouse
7 Janesville, WI - The Back Bar
9 Wichita, KS - The Elbow Room *
15 Phoenix, AZ - Arizona Bike Week *
21 Tucson, AZ - The Rock *
*CO-OP date. No FLAW.
"N.O.W." Teaser can be viewed below:
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