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Non-Prog Interviews

DC Cooper

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview With DC Cooper from 2000
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: The Early Years Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

You have an awesome voice. Have you had training or are you self taught?
First - thank you. I was self taught up until about 8 years ago. Then I took about 5 years of opera training from Charlotte Coleman. She's a very well known opera teacher. It cost a lot of money, but it was well worth it. Self taught is OK, you know, but there's so much more that you can do. You need to learn as much of the proper technique as possible. I didn't really want to be taught. I just used my opera teacher to find out what was best for me - what was the best way to do things. It was quite an experience. I would suggest it to anybody. I started taking lessons after I turned professional, and it made a world of difference. It was very well worth it.
MSJ: You were a finalist in the run for Rob Halford's spot in Judas Priest. How did that go?
It was great. From what I understand, I was one of the final four. It was just such a high honor. That situation in itself, as far as my career, was one of the high points. You have to mark your high points and your low points whenever you are in this business, I think or anything basically with life. That was quite a treat for me, and I'm now good friends with K K Downing and Glenn Tipton. You know, to be able to audition with them was just absolutely fabulous. It was a dream come true. Ripper got to follow through with his dream and be with them. It was a great treat for me. I don't know if I would have taken the job it it was offered to me, and I talked to K K about it a couple different times whenever I've seen him. I don't know because at that time things with Royal Hunt and myself were going extremely well, you know. I don't know personally if I would have fit as well. I know I wouldn't have fit as well as Ripper Owens does. He's perfect for the part. They had told me that they weren't looking for a Rob Halford replacement. So, I was a little surprised when they picked him, but I had known of him before. In fact, Tim's band, the Priest cover band, had opened for us a couple different times. So, as soon as I heard his name, I was like, I know that name from somewhere. Then I realized who it was.
MSJ: How did you originally hook up with Royal Hunt?
The Priest situation really helped a lot, got me set up to get into the international market, which was what I was looking to do. Because, of course, the United States at the turn of the '90's (91-92) - that's when things were really starting to get shaky. I didn't really feel that I could do, or if you put me in a band like Green Day or something, I wouldn't know how to act. That's the thing. they had their particular genre that they do, and I had studied for too long. I have been a fan of metal since I was a little kid, and that's what I know how to do best. I couldn't see myself going into that particular type, so I had to make a decision whether I was going to get out of the business or I was going to continue on. The only way I saw fit to continue was to go international. With the help of Hernando Courtwright from CMI management in New York, he did a fantastic job for me, searching things out. He was the one who hooked me up with Judas Priest. After the Priest auditions, and my name started floating around I started getting offers from different bands. Royal Hunt was one of them and they were a band that I could see was on their way up and needed something. I felt pretty good about taking on the job of the front man, and full performer and the works. So, I chose them because I think they had the most potential. There was a couple of them, which I can't say their names, that had already progressed and had maybe already had their hay day, and I didn't want to pick them because I didn't want to replace somebody, which would have been the situation with Halford. I had a good five year run with them.
MSJ: What did you get out of being in Royal Hunt?
A lot - I learned a lot.What did I get out of it was experience. Experience is what I think this business is really all about. If you're going to be very career minded, and want to do this for your life. This is a career. A lot of people think it's a bunch of fun and we like to go out running around and partying. You have to set your mind to it that this is what you want do do for your life. I've never looked at it as having the stars in my eyes - the one big payoff, big money, big cars and everything like that. I think everybody's impatient and wants more, which is good. It's driven me that I've always wanted more, but I've never seen myself like the millions of dollars are rolling in and I'm driving a jaguar and that kind of thing. It doesn't matter to me. I like the progression that it's taken, because I've learned to be a little bit more humble and to appreciate the business a lot more than somebody who gets signed, goes big, makes some money and six months or a year later, they're nobody, and they're sitting there, "What happened? One day I'm on top, the next day I'm a nobody." I like this progression a lot more, even though it's taken a lot longer. It's been a learning situation from the first day. I probably stepped on stage when I was 14 years old. I think the experience with Royal Hunt I've learned a lot about contracts and getting stabbed in the back. I've learned more about the business from them than I ever realized until now, especially going with the solo album. The experiences I had with Royal Hunt extremely helped me run and be able to do the DC album with the guys, with the production and everything. It was such a great experience. Everybody just gave it their all, everybody gave 110% and I enjoyed working with everybody.
MSJ: What were the turn of events that took you out of Royal Hunt?
I was fired over the internet. At the end of the '97 Paradox tour, we wrapped up, I think in Czech Republic. At that point in time, they had told me that they wanted to take a year off. That to me was ridiculous. We had worked very hard. We had toured 14 countries that tour. Of course, everybody was tired and whatever, but I just couldn't see sitting around waiting for Andre Anderson to write the next album. He was the main writer. He's the composer. I knew that in the beginning, but I was able to put my trademark on it as the voice, and as the melody. When they told me that, I said to myself, "There's no way I can sit around. I think that's not very good for one's career. So, that's when I seized the prime opportunity I had always wanted to do. That was to get a solo band together and a solo project. Be one of the main writers - write with other people, help produce, do every thing. I was part of the whole process from the very start to the very end. That was one of the greatest learning experiences. This album's doing fairly well world wide. The United States is not doing as great as we'd like it, but I think there's still a chance for it. That's why I don't give up on it, because I think it was the greatest experience for me. I had decided to go on my own. I had to get permission, which was fine. From the sounds of it, everything was fine. In about a month or month and a half after I had gotten permission and started working on it and writing with Tore and Kosta, then I find out tha Andre Anderson is going to release a solo album. Which was kind of funny because Royal Hunt is an Andre Anderson solo band anyhow, because he is the composer. So, it really didn't make much sense for him to do a solo album, but he went ahead and got it out before me. I had no problem with what I was doing. I had no problem with what he was doing. My intentions were to stay in Royal Hunt for the next album, cause I did have one more album on my contract with them. An, I wanted to have my solo album released and come and do the next Royal Hunt album. I thought that would have been fantastic for both of our careers -- for everyone's career. There was a chance for everybody to take advantage of the situation and get something out of it. Somewhere down the line, whenever the record sales started coming in, I don't exactly know how it was, but I got a call on a Saturday morning from a friend of mine. He said, "yeah, you better go log on." I went and logged on and felt like somebody hit me in the middle of the head with a shovel. It took the breath right out of me. I thought it was the most cowardly thing I'd seen in my life, in this business anyway, and I think I've seen a lot of stuff. After five years I felt that I deserved more than that - at least a phone call to be fired, but they decided to post it over the internet, and it was world-wide by the time it got to me. So it was quite an interesting situation. Now, their rebuttal in that situation was that I had sic'ed my attorneys on them, which is not exactly true, but I will say that I did haev attorneys involved as far as contracts, there were a lot of things that just weren't proper and I was trying to eradicate, which is the American way. I was doing good business with my attorneys. I was being fair, and Andre Anderson didn't like it at all. So, the next thing I know, I find myself fired over the internet. It was a blow, I guess at first, but it wasn't something I was completely shocked by. I actually had a feeling they might do something like that, but whenever Andre gets confronted with something like that, I don't think he knows how to handle it really. So, that's enough of the low-down on that scoop.
MSJ: How would you compare the band situation to the solo situation?
I really didn't feel there was much difference because to me the solo band, it was a band even though we weren't fully togetherat all times, and it's not a full time situation. To me it felt like a band and it was incredible. Everybody did a great job and we got along so well. Sometimes on solo album projects like that, musicians tend not to give 100% of themselves, they want to save it for themselves and the save it for their band, which is totally understandable. But, in this situation, they gave it their all. I'm absolutely proud of them. In the inside jacket I have what I call the Alliance. I know there's a band named that, but to me, it's a subtitle of the album, and the band name, buecause that's what it was, everybody coming together for one cause and one purpose. It was all about the love of music. I just had a great time. The difference between the solo and the band, for myself, there wasn't a big difference. I thought that things happened the way they would in a regular band. The new album that will be coming out, I do have a new band that's put together. The album's finished and we're signed. The deal world-wide is finished except for the US. The name of the band is Silent Force and the album is called Empire Future. I guess I find out how going back into the full band situation what the difference is because it's been over two years since I've been in a full band in a permanent situation. With some of the releases we've done in the press and especially coming out of Europe and Japan, they are really very receptive to that, to someone being in a permanent band. To them unity is a very, very big thing, and being part of a group. So, I think it is goig to be something very good career wise, especially for the Japanese market because that's something they really go for. We've just toured Brazil and Argentina, and I was surprised by the South American market. Even though their economy isn't the greatest, we've had some good record sales down there. I'll be going down there to relase the Silent Forces album also. So, I'll be going on a promotional tour again. So that will be my fifth time in South America. I've been to Japan over fourteen times already for either promotion tours or concert tours, and it's one of my favorite places. They're very receptive and they're very loyal as far as fans. I've taken a lot of slack and a lot of criticism, especially even here in my home town. They say, "He couldn't make it here in the US, so he left. He went overseas. Sure, anybody can make it overseas." It's just as hard, if not harder over there than it is over here, so I feel that I had the guts to kind of jeopardize every thing that I did have and do have right now to do it. Every time I walk on a plane, I jeopardize my personal life, my home life, because you never know what can happen.
MSJ: Who would you say are your influences?
Many -- it's taken me a long time, many years I didn't really feel I had any kind of trademark voice until I recorded the Paradox album. I really didn't feel myself very different from other singers until then. I felt like I was beginning to hit my own style. My influences start with Rob Halford, Geoff Tate, Robert Plant, Aaron Neville. I have a wide range. It just doesn't stay in the heavy metal vein. James Taylor is one of my all-time favorites. James Labrie, and it's great because I've become great friends with him. There's many, many voices. I'm gonna throw a group in there that probably will surprise everybody, but the Statler Brothers have been a very big influence in my life, every since I was a little kid. I used to ride around in my Dad's truck, and he has a great voice. He has a very bass voice. My father is a big man. He would crank up the Statler Brothers, and I think that's where I learned to do harmony. The Statler Brothers, I know it sounds strange when people read it, but I learned a lot of harmonies from the Statler Brothers, The Carpenters, even The Beach Boys. You have to kind of take things, listen to them and not worry about what people say.
MSJ: Are there any musicians with whom you would like to work?
I've had the opportunity to work with quite a few people on the Age of Impact, the Explorer's Club CD. I think Trent Gardner just did a phenomenal job of writing it, and coordinating everything, and the people I was involved with. Terry Bozzio was one of my all time favorites to be involved with. Billy Sheehan and Petrucci, Portnoy -- it was fantastic. I'll seize an opportunity when it comes across, but I try not to go out and attack things because you might set yourself up for a let-down. I welcome opportunity with open arms, but I feel very fortunate and I feel like I've been a very lucky person to work with a lot of great musicians.
MSJ: On the solo album you covered a Uriah Heep song. How did that come about?
There's a little bit of psychology on that one. I knew I wanted to do a solo albu, and it wasn't because I ran short of material -- which I've been criticized for. I wasn't short of material, but I wanted to choose a song, it was really hard to choose the right son. I wanted something that everybody knew, I mean, that song is known world-wide. People might not know who originally recorded it, which I found that to be very true. They don't know all the words, but they can go, "easy living". They know that part. The beat keeps people going. We just spiced it up a bit. We threw in a double kick and pretty much everything else was the same. We didn't do too many changes. I think the psych behind it was if somebody is comfortable with a song, then they become comfortable with the rest of the album. That's also another reason why I put it number two on the album. Everybody's like, "Oh my god, that's really stupid, man". Most everybody puts a cover at the end or as a bonus track or something, but I wanted to put that on second and even tie it together with the first song. Put it on second because people will go, "Oooh, I know this song." They'll say, "Oh, this is pretty cool." I feel we did a good cover of it. That means people might be a little bit more comfortable listening to the rest of the album. So, that's the reason we had done that song.
MSJ: What's been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
I kind of have two of them. One, I had a brand new pair of leather pants, custom made for me that was split down the sids, whenever that style was hot. I go to drop down to my knees for a high note. Right in front of everybody, about 1500 people, the crotch splits right out of 'em, and ta da! There he was. That was one of them. The other one was just recently. It was probably my worst experience. It was when we were in Brazil, the solo tour. Pink Cream 69 was opening up, and we were all on one tour bus. We got to the town for our show, after a fve hour bus ride. It's a beautiful country. This was the first or second of December when we got there. Down there it's summer time, beautiful 80 to 85 degrees. We're in South America, Brazil, and we're all pumped up. We pull into this town, and this club holds like 200 people. There was no PA, no lights, no nothing. The only thing that was there was an old crystal ball and a couple speakers in the corner of the room and a disc jockey's microphone and 8 channels for a board. That's what they expected us to perform through. It was unbelievable because we had to fight for four hours. They wouldn't let us leave. They blocked the bus in. It got very heated at times. The police had to come. The promoters were into it. My management was there. Finally we were able to strike a deal at the end because we wanted to get paid. Obviously you go on tour in South America, you want to cover your expenses, at least, to have everybody there. There at the very end, the bus driver refuses to leave because he wants paid. We can't pay him til we get paid, cause nobody's carrying around cash to pay the guy. We were actually bailed out by four fans of the band who said, "Take us to San Pablo with you. If we can ride on the bus and see your concert tomorrow night in San Pablo we will pay for the bus driver." So, we paid the bus driver, and when we went to leave, I had people throwing the solo CD at the bus. By then, all the crowd started, showing up, the people who were holding tickets - giving us the finger and throwing the CD's at the bus. So, that was a low point. That was probably the worst situation. At times we were worried. People were blocking the bus and rocking the bus. There were well over 500 people there, and this place only holds 200 people.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bough/what have you been listening to lately?
I think the last CD I bought was Collective Soul-Dosage. I think it's phenomenal. I think it's a fantastic album. Right now in my CD player I think Pat Benatar is playing in the cycle. I have a big disc collection. I don't buy many CD's here in the United States. I usually bring stuff from Europe and Japan. That's where I usually do my shopping for CD's. There's so many different bands over there that never make it to the United States.
MSJ: What's was the last concert you attended?
Saxon - we were in the mixdown for the new album, Silent Force. I guess in February, about mid-February. I was in the studio for six weeks solid to record the vocals, and then go straight in for mixdown and mastering. Took two days off in six weeks - two days and that's it. The one day off I had was the Saxon concert.
 
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