Interview - The Ash Cooper Band
The Ash Cooper Band is all about putting on an performance. Country music is about more than just the music, it’s the emotions, the feel and the energy and that’s what we put into every single song! We always get people up and having a good time and those who have been to our live performances say it’s been “electric” and “like nothing else out there in the UK country scene”. We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the amazing feedback we have had and everyone can see we are playing music we love for people who want to listen to their favourite country songs live in the UK.
We managed to catch up with them to ask them a few questions.
1) Can you tell us a bit about yourself and the Band?
I was raised on a musical diet of the likes of Elvis, Willie Nelson, The Beatles and Jerry Lee Lewis by my Dad. But new country wasn't something I had ready access to and so it was replaced for a while by the likes of Bon Jovi, Def Leppard and Motley Crue (all of which I have since tributed). I rediscovered country music about 5 years back after listening to the likes of Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley and Tim McGraw on Internet radio stations and I was immediately hooked again. The music is alive with all of the tones of the bands I love but with that laid back country feel.
The band was put together after I realised that, despite these acts being huge in America, there was actually nowhere and no-one you could go and watch these great songs being played live. So, I contacted my buddies from previous bands I'd been in knowing that they would be able to bring the current Nashville rockier edge that I like to hear in a live performance. They listened to some of the current tracks and that’s it, The Ash Cooper Band was born.
Whilst we love the classic, traditional country we focus on playing what we know no-one else is. Where else could you hear live versions of artists like Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesntey, Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Rascal Flats, Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Kip Moore and many more all in one set?! That’s what we are all about we cram as many songs into a set as we can because there are so many great songs to cover! Our band rule is that we only play songs that are no more than 10 years old, but in the main this means songs from the last 3-4 years and an ever changing the set so we keep things fresh! We have also started to integrate a couple of our own songs into the set and these have been really well received.
We want to make sure Country music keeps on growing in the UK and that people don't forget that great music is still being written and recorded all the time.
2) Who are your musical influences?
In terms of song writing I think I am a bit of a mix of Bon Jovi meets Willie Nelson crossed with a little bit of Ronnie Milsap! When it comes to performing I have always loved the way Elvis would interact with his crowd and the spontaneity of that is something I love about live shows. Everyone who has seen us live loves the way we get the crown involved, people tell us afterwards that its been an “electric” experience and that our enjoyment of the country style really comes across. We want to create the party feel you get from bands on the strip! We wanna have fun with what we do, the thing that drives us is putting on a great show and getting that buzz back from the crowd when its going down well – there is no better feeling!
As a band, our influences are vast there are a number of influences from rock to jazz to ska and obviously country, which is a large reason why I put it together this way so that we can bring these influences into our performance - and if you ever get to catch our version of Kip Moore's Somethin' bout a truck you'll hear some of these influences!!
3) How long have you been performing?
We have been performing as “The Ash Cooper Band” for a little over two years now, starting off with some very low key gigs to get going and get the feel for what we are doing, but its really starting to gather momentum now. However, I have been gigging with Pete, the drummer, for the last 20+ years in various bands!! We know each other well, we are not just a band brought together by our love of country music, we are all great mates and this absolutely comes across in our live performances. You are guaranteed to be able to recognise that immediately when you see us!
4) Why country music?
Because it's about everyday life, dreams, hopes and fears and it's done in a way people can relate to. You believe a country song when you hear it because it's not all gimmicks and effects it's great lyrics with great melodies and it wants to pull you in rather than keep you out. Oh, and country fans are some of the nicest people in the world!!
5) What do you feel is your best achievement so far?
Personally it was performing an original song at a songwriters night at the Commodore in Nashville when I was there. On a band level it has to be that we have so far managed to generate a buzz and a following without compromising our original intention which is to play modern country music. Even when we have played more main stream venues where the crowd knows very little about country music, in fact most of them expect us to perform “old school country and western” they are amazed by what they hear. Winning these new fans and making sure that people know how country feels, is totally our best achievement and we are lucky to be able to do this most times we get out there.
6) What are your aims for the future?
Personally I am a songwriter, so I would like to get a set of original songs that we can perform from time to time so that people can see why I am so into the genre. Country music is in my veins and the best way I can share my feelings about it and what I feel is to get my own stuff out there. The goals for the band are very simple. We want to keep bringing country to the masses, play live and have a damn good time doing it. We just wanna make sure that the word is spread about how great this new country stuff is, we see some of the artists like Lady Antebellum getting into the main stream charts over here, and there are more that could definitely manage that cross over. But most importantly our mission is to get out there, have a good time and make sure the folks in the audience are up and dancing, singing and getting into the country spirit with us!
7) What is your vision for country music in the UK in the future?
I think it's really growing again, but this isn’t a fad or a low key trend. The success of the C2C festival over the last 2 years shows that and those artist that performed there this week are spearheading a drive towards the growing popularity of the genre. We also see some great original acts in the UK, like Raintown, Gary Quinn, and so on who deserve to get onto a much bigger platform, and there is absolutely no reason why they cant grow in the US too!
Check out the Ash Cooper Band here and see where they are playing! Definatly a band not to be missed.
Photos by Frography (By Flex) http://frography.xthefrog.com/
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