Vicky Roberts

15:38 13th September 2004

The Cooper Temple Clause

Trust is not generally an attribute associated with our generation. In an age where those running for president fix elections, the noble are unveiled as scandalous villains in the daily papers and bands sacrifice artistic integrity to sell more records, it’s not that hard to see why.

For The Cooper Temple Clause, trust, up to now hasn’t been an issue. A steadily growing loyal to the point of obsessive fan base and more than a spark of interest in America has taken their dark turmoil and is evolving it into something bigger. But that’s where the issues start.

Cries for more radio friendly material and accusations of ‘selling-out’ often come hand in hand with growing success, so as we join the Coopers on the day before they head off to America for their biggest tour to date, just how are the band coping with their mounting notoriety?

“We’re good at the moment,” explains bandmember Tom Bellamy. “We’re a bit tired after our first gig for a while. We were a bit rusty, and we played along set. We had our new member Dan Austin playing and we had a new sound man as well, so we had a lot of factors which meant we were a bit shaky.”

“And two songs we’d never played live before,” adds Kieran Mahon.

The band played three tiny low –profile gigs before flying off to America to join acts such as Interpol and The Cure on the Curiosa tour. Did they find it weird returning to smaller venues in the UK?

“It was about the same size that we’ve been doing in America,” explained Kieran, “so it wasn’t much of a shock coming back and doing a couple of small ones.”

The Coopers chillin'Work has already begun on the follow-up to last years acclaimed second album ‘Kick Up A Fire And let The Flames Break Lose’. Between touring commitments, how far have the band got with the album?

“We started a couple of months ago doing a couple of demo’s with Dan, and it’s been quite fruitful, lots of ideas, and we’ve come up with six demos that we’ve handed over to the record company to see what they think” explained Tom.

“From creating a song it usually takes us about four months before we can gig it, so we’re not playing any new material at these shows. We’re playing two old new ones, b-sides we’ve never played before,” Tom continued. “We thought we’d do something nice for the fans. The hardcore fans come to these warm-up shows. No, unfortunately we only just finished our new song the day before we came out. We have to teach ourselves to play it again as well, coz everyone forgets what they put down.

“It’s similar to what we did on the last album, just writing in the studio,” Tom explained. “We had the ideas before we went in and then we just did it. Jon and Fisher are doing the main lyrics at the moment, we’re working with the ethos of anyone being able to put down what they want on a track is definitely still in play, no process is really fixed in stone.”

“We’ve been recording in our studio,” Kieran continued. “Bleak House. The pig farm!”

First album ‘See This Through And Leave’ and ‘Kick Up A Fire’ cemented the Coopers dramatic and tormenting sound. Do the band think the new album will throw up more of the same? “Probably angst and more depression!” laughed Kieran. “You’ll have to ask Didz.

“Didz is the one who comes up with the really profound things to say and one liners,” explained Tom.

What’s changed in the Cooper’s recording process?

The Coopers rockin'“We’re hopefully going to try and rerecord the demos live as we haven’t really had the chance to do that before,” said Tom. We’ll try that when we come back from America, write a few others so after that really.

“We currently have really crude working titles,” explained Kieran. "We see something, and then we’ll name a song after something we’ve seen in a magazine.”

You say crude Gigwise says porn….

“I suppose,” admitted Tom. “Ok we admit it, we like you!”

What’s band life like with extra member Dan Austin on the stage?  “Squashed!” explained Tom. “He (Dan) nearly hit me yesterday but he didn’t, but he said he will hit me tonight, so I said I’ll hit him back.

“He jumps up and down a lot and wants us to wear big fiery suits with sequins on it, and he was singing a lot, and we were like ‘Dan calm down’!

Producer Dan Austin was brought in as a replacement bassist after Didz Hammond took some time out from the band to spend time with new daughter Nico. Do the rest of the band think that a baby is going to change the dynamic of the band?

“Inevitable if you have a kid there’s going to be some sort of sacrifice,” explained Kieran. “Its unrealistic to say that everything is going to stay the same, because something has to change, not necessarily in a negative way, just a change is routine.”

“I don’t think it’s going to affect us, well not too much,” said Tom.

“That’s the advantage of us having six people,” Kieran continued. “It means that we can cross over the responsibility. If it was a three piece I’m sure it would be much more of a big deal.”

“He was very unfortunate to have not been around for the second album, as he nearly died, and then this album he was giving life.”

That’s quite profound…

And yet more rockin'!“Yes let that be my profound contribution to the interview,” smiled Tom. “Didz’ll still be contributing to the album. Everyone has their little computers that we go home and tinker around with stuff, he’s always writing lyrics.”

So what’s the response been like to the band in the States?

“We had really big crowds on our recent tour it was really amazing,” said Kieran. “Loads of people turning up and stuff it was just gigging at its best. The record company has been really good over it, advertising and whatever. Quite a few British people came over.”

“We were very surprised to see such dedicated fans,” laughed Tom.

“Such rich fans as well,” added Kieran.

“There’s always a lot of our Japanese fans who follow us round the world,” said Tom. “We always think wonder ‘where do you get your money?’.”

So can the Coopers ever see themselves marrying fans with this level of dedication?

“No. They can try though,” said Tom. “Anything’s possible.”

“At least you know they’re secure financially!” Kieran countered. “They could help us out!”

“Yeah, and I suppose that’s what we need at the moment,” agreed Tom. “So basically just send your cheque in the post.”

They could send you more porn…

“And then we’d have more song titles!” said Tom. “Exactly, send us cheques and porn.”

Do the band feel that the press have got behind them in America?

“Our fans our always brilliant towards us,” said Tom. “They always put the most dedication in. But it is such an enclosed following that sometimes the press don’t really recognize it.

“We’ve never been seen as really cool by the press like they have with lots of bands. I guess we’ve always stayed kind of underground. They talk about our hair a lot, but that gets so boring.”

The Coopers have always held an ethos that they’d get their music put as far as possible, no matter who that meant playing to. Fans thought it was an odd decision though when the band took a support slot at a recent Limp Bizkit tour…

“We’ll play to one man and his dog!” winks Tom. “But we did turn down the Stereophonics, that was one nudge to far. You have to have standards somewhere.”

So if the band breaks America how do Kieran and Tom think it will effect the band’s sound, and ultimately their fan base?

“It’s really difficult, right now it’s quite important, said Tom. “We’ve got people at the record company saying ‘we want stuff to play on the radio’ and we’ve never been that good at that, and we have that thing that if it’s good on the radio and the fans don’t like it then. We just want o get our music out really. Some people said we sold out when we played with Limp Bizkit. But if you’re playing the same set is that really selling out?”

“I don’t think we’d ever change our music,” said Kieran. “What we are, who we are, what we have to say or anything. We’d steer away from anyone who told us to change our sound or image or anything. We’re definitely trying to get away from the suggestion.

So which bands are the Coopers going to purchase for their tour bus? “We’re going to get the new Futureheads album,” said Tom. “We saw them at SxSW, and they were really good. I had to buy Maroon 5 last week for my sister’s birthday, and then we found out they were on BMG so I could have got it for free. Disgusting isn’t it.”

And what’s banned from the band tour bus? “There’s always a risk of the indie classic album coming out a bit too early. Jon really does not like the indie classics, he does not like Brit-pop. When Dodgy comes on we hit the roof. You can get into anything when you’re drunk though.”

Pig farms, porn influenced song titles, snubbing the Stereophonics and an admittance to liking Dodgy when drunk. It would seem that for now that the Coopers remain the same as they ever were.

Photos by Dave Evans