Being young with creative aspirations takes hard work and initiative, sometimes particularly so in smaller towns. Yet Jackson is the lucky home to a plethora of up-and-coming talent with big plans for the future. Having lived and worked here for several years now, the members of Coopertheband are no strangers to the trials and rewards of the independent music world. They have recently played several shows back-to-back in the community, extending their central messages of hope and joy through their lyrics. Coopertheband reached out to Our Jackson Home to share about their progress as a Jackson-based band and a new opportunity on the horizon. Seated with Cooper Brown, Will Kwasigroh, and Joseph Kyle (not available for the interview were Matt Hammonds, Patricia Taylor, and Phoebe Scott), I enjoyed a cup of coffee and listened to their story.
So first off, how did your band come together? What is your origin story?
Cooper: Basically, I started the band in 2010, whenever I was in college at Belmont. And for, I don’t know, four years or so, it was just me playing by myself or with friends. I moved back here in 2014, and not too long after that I met these guys. I met [Will] at church and asked him to play drums. It ended up working out…
Will: It was funny ‘cause I had heard his music, but I had just gotten a job at the hospital working second shift- so working second shift you don’t have much of a social life. So first I was like, “Man, I’d love to, but I can’t.” My boss called me the next day and said, “Hey, there’s a position open for first shift if you want it.” So…I could be employed and be in a band!
Cooper: After that, I saw Phoebe playing a solo show- I basically ran her down and said [she] had to sing in our band. ‘Cause it was a duet, and we didn’t have a girl to sing. She’s been like a sister to us really ever since. Matt was running audio for the show she sang at, and then Matt brought Joe in to play guitar.
Joseph: Matt was like, “Hey, I know this guy who does really weird chord changes and time signatures, and I thought about you.” [Laughing] I didn’t know how I felt about that!
Cooper: We’ve been playing with this group close to two years.
Getting the band together, was there a mission behind it, or were you just wanting to play music together?
Cooper: I don’t know if it’s exactly a mission statement, but what would be our win- you know, a success for us- is that when we play a show or someone hears our music, if we can give them any kind of hope or joy. For them to feel loved in that moment- for us that’s a success.
I listened to your Kings EP recently, which is based on the life of King David according to your website. How did you decide to musically illustrate his story? Why King David?
Cooper: I think for me, King David is the most relatable character in the Bible. He’s passionate, but he’s very flawed. I just kind of wanted to show the relevance of Scripture; a lot of people just see it as this book that was written, you know, years ago, and how could they apply it to their lives? I took the stories and dove into what would [King David] be feeling or thinking, and then apply it my life… in a modern day scenario. How would I react? If you just listened to the album, you wouldn’t necessarily know it’s about the life of David. But then if you know that and listen through it, you can see that it was about a certain time of his life.
With that, you have a new album coming out soon called Kingdoms– is that going to have a similar biblical theme?
Cooper: So it’s going to be like a wrap-up to David’s life. It’s probably going to be a little more vague listening to it if you don’t know a lot about his life- it will just feel like a song you can relate to. It’s gonna be a full length album instead of an EP.
Will: Kings is kind of dark…but these new songs are a lot more hopeful.
Will, you told me earlier that you guys have a big recording opportunity coming up. Can you tell us some more about that? How did you come into contact with [award-winning producer] Mark Hornsby?
Will: This past year has been a ton of…booking as many shows as possible. There’s a company in Fort Wayne, Indiana called Sweetwater. Our personal sales rep said that they actually had a venue there on campus. So we go up and get there at like 6am- we drove through the night…the guy that ran sound for us apparently fell in love with what we were doing. He talked to Mark [Hornsby], who was his boss, and he ended up emailing us about Mark being interested in our sound.
Cooper: We didn’t approach them or anything- they sought us out…they tracked us down after we played and wanted us to record an album.
Joseph: Which is funny because we played [that show] off of like two hours of sleep.
Will: Apparently they didn’t care- they liked us! It was really cool. We talked about it and…if we can do this Kickstarter, we can raise a certain amount [of money] and actually get two albums out.
Cooper: We have access to Jaxon Records here, so we decided to do a full length album at Jaxon Records with [Nashville producer] Kyle Schonewill, and then a follow-up EP with Mark Hornsby at Sweetwater Studios. So then, with a successful Kickstarter campaign and using the money wisely, we’ll walk out of 2017 with two separate albums both fully funded and paid for.
How can the community support local music or support people like you in these endeavors?
Cooper: I would say, on a basic level, to come to shows. For us, we’re gonna launch the Kickstarter on January 20th, and it will run until February 20th.
Will: We’re trying to get to where we have 10-15 house shows, to play and then talk about our Kickstarter.
Cooper: We’re trying to get to know people on a personal level. We want to do a grassroots marketing campaign- let people meet us and have [more personal] support…the launch party will be January 20th. Anybody that wants to host a show can contact us and get it set up. We’re trying to get the word out.
*This interview was also published in Our Jackson Home magazine.
Support their Kickstarter by hosting or attending a house show, or by making a donation.
*Photos courtesy of Jacob Roberts Photography