Cooper, D.C. (Silent Force) (June 2002)


A Force To Be Reckoned With: D C Cooper

DC Cooper (© Silent Force) It has now been a while since vocalist D.C. Cooper got his first big break when he turned out to be one of the main candidates for replacing Rob Halford in legendary heavy metal band Judas Priest. After that, Cooper worked for almost six years with Danish prog metallers Royal Hunt, recorded a critically acclaimed solo album, and lastly came out with a new metal act that has been drawing quite some attention from the active European power metal scene: Silent Force. Featuring not only the world-class talent of Cooper, but also the skilled expertise of guitarist Alex Beyrodt (famed for having worked with Sinner, Primal Fear, Paul Shortino, and The Sygnet), this band is willing to sacrifice all in order to conquer the world by means of blazing riffs and sheer metallic strength. Need to know more? Don't worry, yours truly recently talked with Cooper in order to get the lowdown on this newest sensation on the block.

Marcelo Silveyra: Back at the time you were meeting Alex Beyrodt in order to see if you would join Silent Force, you had just finished touring for your solo album and were planning to go ahead and record the second one already. When one looks at it and notices that the solo band consisted of members of Conception, Vanden Plas, and Pink Cream 69, who all had commitments to their respective bands, wasn't it a blessing to join a group that was committed to itself in its entirety?

D.C.: Well, I wasn't actually joining Silent Force; I was putting that band together. Alex and I joined forces before Silent Force. Actually, I'm working on the second solo album right now and it has nothing to do with ... well, I shouldn't say it like that, the members of the solo band were so crucial, they were fantastic musicians. I was hoping to get them together again for the project, but that wasn't possible, so I have a new lineup right now. I'm not ready to release the names of the people who will be involved in the second solo album, but I'm just finishing up the writing process right now and it's doing quite well.

MS: Looking at your entire career, one can infer that you have pretty much had good management throughout the years. A lot of musicians and artists are usually at odds with their managers, yet yours got you the gigs with Judas Priest, Royal Hunt, and Silent Force. Could one say that you have been lucky with your management?

D.C.: Well, I hope part of it is a little bit of luck, but I hope that the other half of it is being very careful. It's really difficult, and I've worked with different people over the years. The management team that I'm with now, involving Silent Force and my solo album, didn't have anything to do with the Judas Priest situation, or with Royal Hunt; that was a different management company.

I've worked through some nasty things as far as management is concerned, but right now I feel pretty secure with the situation that I'm involved with now. It has been good for business in these years, and the business end of things usually determines how the relationship between the musician and management is going to take place.

MS: One of the things that one immediately notices when reading previous interviews with Silent Force members is the fact that Alex was consistently asked whether this was a real band or not, which it of course is. Even more curiously, this is still a frequent question despite the fact that you've already released your second effort as a band, Infatuator. When do you think people are going to stop asking this and realize that Silent Force is in fact a band?

D.C.: I don't know [laughs]. I'm not quite sure, but it doesn't bother me. I think it comes from Alex's background with Sinner, Primal Fear, and Sygnet, and from my background both solo and with Royal Hunt. That question kind of pops up from time to time, but I'm hoping with this album ... I believe that the album sounds extremely mature, it sounds like we've grown up as friends, partners, and musicians together. Compared to the first album we did together, it just sounds more like a team, more like a band. You'll get to see that also when we go out on tour - we're leaving in four weeks. So we'll be going out on tour very soon, and that's something that you'll be able to see. [Silent Force played in Europe during March - May, 2002 -ed.] The more people that see that, the more they'll understand it.

MS: Now that you mention a difference between both your albums, it comes across as a strange coincidence that Empire Of The Future , Empire Of The Future, the music for which was written completely by Alex, sounds similar to your solo album, not only due to the fact that you are singing, but also to the musical style. And meanwhile, Infatuator sounds almost completely different, despite the fact that you also joined in on the writing this time (as did the rest of the band)...

D.C.: I think the new album just shows how we worked together as a team. There are taints of everybody's influences...you'll still hear taints of Alex's background, Royal Hunt, and the people that we've admired as musicians over the years. Like with Alex - the obvious - Yngwie Malmsteen and George Lynch, people like that. With me, for example, it's obviously Halford, and Robert Plant. It's happening throughout the band, and it's basically a reflection of the people who put it all together.

On the first album, that's probably why Alex and I got along so well, and that's why I decided to put my voice on the music that was already written. At first I wasn't really interested in just singing something that was already written, because I enjoyed the writing project; I liked to be part of it, write the lyrics, and become involved. With the writing process I become more emotional when I'm on singing lyrics. So I was kind of against it at first, since it was kind of just singing on something that was already finished, but it was fairly similar to my solo stuff, we got along great, and it would work out live, and that's why I became part of it.

MS: At first glance, some of the contents of Infatuator seem to make reference to Painkiller-era Judas Priest. The title track features a similar sound, there is a cover version of "All Guns Blazing" on the album, and even the title "Infatuator," despite the fact that you just made up the word, sounds a bit like a character from Judas Priest in the vein of the Painkiller or the Jugulator. Was any of this intentional?

D.C.: No, no. People can make comparisons all they want; a lot of people say that I sound like Rob Halford or whatever, but it's only in the high range ... we did put "All Guns Blazing" on it intentionally though. We put that on the album a little bit as a joke, kind of like saying "well, this is what it would have been like if D.C. would have joined Judas Priest." That pretty much explains how we ended up playing that song, where that idea comes from ... but everything else, I mean, Jugulator, Infatuator, either way it doesn't bother me, because most of the time we don't care how people look at it, it's all personal.

MS: Changing the subject to the artwork of Infatuator, it's interesting to see how the cover of the album continues with the artwork featured on Empire Of The Future to the point where Alex even mentioned the possibility of it being continued furthermore on the third album. What strikes me as curious is the fact that the cover for Empire Of The Future had to do with the entire story of that album, but this time around it doesn't seem to have much to do with the lyrical content of Infatuator...

D.C.: You know, it's like with a lot of bands ... you're looking for a signature, an insignia. The wings on the first album are also the wings on the cover of Infatuator, and we were looking for that reverse futuristic kind of thing and have the covers relate to each other ... it was really doing something that's appealing to the eye. The cover really had nothing to do with the lyrics themselves, because there is so much different lyrical content that it would be hard to tie it in, to represent the whole album with an album cover.

MS: Alex once mentioned in an interview that the music for "Hear Me Calling" came out very spontaneously during one of the rehearsals for the NTS festival in Paris, in what was like a magical moment. And then the NTS festival was supposed to be something really special for Silent Force. Is this going to be considered like a magical event in the history of the band in the long run?

D.C.: Yeah, I mean, the NTS festival was something really great for us because of the response. We were shown by the record company how important we are to them in France, and, obviously because of the reaction of the fans, it was phenomenal. With the song "Hear Me Calling..." that's special for me, because that was written about my brother, who passed away some years ago. And it's the first time in fifteen years - I've been in the business longer than that, but he passed away fifteen years ago - it was the first time I've ever written anything pertaining to his passing. That was something that Alex brought up to me that I didn't realize I was doing ... I thought I was writing the lyrics, and he asked if it was about my brother, and I told him "yes." And all of a sudden I kind of realized that it was time to deal with it; it was time to take on this theme and kind of put it to rest, so I'm truly happy with that.

MS: That's the great thing about music; it allows you to get all those things out...

D.C.: Absolutely. It's great with the guys in the band - they were extremely supportive, especially Alex. When we were listening to the mixdown, I just sat there and couldn't believe that it was time for me to deal with it and get it out ... "Hear Me Calling," and also "Last Time," they're both kind of revolving around him, around my brother's passing.

And it was just special for me with the guys I care about the most and are like a family to me - to have them come to my side and put their hand on my shoulder and say "that's alright, let it out." It was something magical for me, them showing how much that means to them also ... that was really special. Whenever we perform that song live on stage for the first time it's going to be really difficult for me to deal with it, but I know that they're there, I can trust them, they're going to be beside me the whole way.

MS: Now that you mention them being there the whole way, that reminds me of the concert that you held in Pittsburgh [May 2001], where everything just went wrong. There were problems with immigration when the band members arrived, Symphony X cancelled its participation at the show, the venue had been closed down by the IRS, etc. And yet you went in and did it, so one would say that where there's a will there's a way...

D.C.: Absolutely. All I wanted to finally do during that whole screwed up week was to get on stage and do the show. And even when we got on stage, three songs into it, André's bass drumhead broke. I've been in the business for over twenty years and I've NEVER seen bass drumheads break, and I just thought right there "Oh my God, this wasn't supposed to happen, the whole show, we shouldn't even be in the building," like I was waiting for an earthquake to happen or something like that. And all of a sudden our band is looking for a drumhead, and there's a drummer in the crowd getting up and yelling "I have a drumhead, I've got my bass drum in the car." So we grabbed it and we're back up front and the show was going on again in ten minutes.

In the meantime, I sat there, I told some jokes, and me and Toto [Torsten Röhre, the band's keyboardist - MS.] did an acoustic version of "I'll Be There." It was quite a day, and I couldn't be more proud of the guys for putting up with all the stuff. But it was all things like that, and there was nothing we could do about them ... about any of it. It just happened, but the one thing we wanted was the show, and we were going to do it. My father came up to me after the show - the first one he'd been to in over ten years - and he was asking me "How do you do it? I don't know; how do you do it?," and I'd start laughing, 'cause it's what I do. And that's my family. The guys, the crew, everything, they just showed what they're made of. It's like, no matter what, even if the place is falling down, the show is still going on. It's just something that I've been learning over the years; it doesn't matter if there's five, fifty, or fifty-thousand people there at the show. You gotta do it.

MS: Moving away from Silent Force, there was an old interview with you where you mentioned that you had already been sent scripts for Broadway three times and were considering the possibility of participating. Is there a chance that people will one day get to see D.C. Cooper on Broadway?

D.C.: Mmmm ... I believe yes, at some point in time. I have to follow this end of the career out; I have to see how far I can take that. Whenever I start to see the light at the end of the tunnel beginning to diminish as far as this band is concerned ... maybe there's going to be some point in time when people are going to be like "Ah he's old, he was never famous, so he's lame," and that doesn't mean that I have to stop singing and retire from the business completely. Right now though, I would have no time whatsoever to become involved in something like that. Somewhere down the road I would imagine that sort of taking place ... I don't know when, but hopefully not for quite a few years yet.

MS: And how do you think the fans would react to seeing you on Broadway?

D.C.: Well, I don't know. There's been different people over the years who have been able to do things like that. One of them is Sebastian Bach, and he got extremely high reviews from those performances that he did. I don't know; it depends on how many fans are left [laughs]. I truly believe that the fans that have stuck with me through all the bullshit, all the way from me being fired from Royal Hunt to - you know, just for show, because there's been quite a few different downfalls in my career - in the long run, the thing is that you find out who your true friends are whenever the shit hits the fan. So it's kind of the same way, some of these fans who have been supportive and stuck by me I really believe are true fans and true believers in whatever decisions I choose to make. Because the bottom line is that it's my career and my voice. I've always been fair to the fans and I really try to follow my heart, and they appreciate that. I try to be careful to please them and make them happy, but there will come a point in time where you have to say to yourself "you have to do things for yourself sometimes."

DC Cooper - DC Cooper (1999)MS: When looking at your upcoming agenda, it's immediately obvious that you're going to be quite busy with your second solo album and Silent Force going on tour. How are you planning to work that out? Won't you start wanting to play with Silent Force again while you're working on other things?

D.C.: Not really. Due to the September 11th attack and everything, I haven't seen the guys for already three and a half or four months - our schedule was to meet in November, but that just happened, and it got cancelled. I haven't seen these guys right now, but I'll be with them almost eight weeks for rehearsals and touring, and we'll be writing while on tour. It's also time for the production of the solo album to get in the plane of things and probably time to work on it with the other musicians, and then another album with Silent Force...

With Silent Force, we could go for two or three months at a time without seeing each other, and whenever you get back in together and you're watching the room, it's like you never left. It's just that America's my home, where I have my wife and my family. The airplane flies both ways, so they get to visit me and they know that as soon as they get off the airplane they can visit me at my house and do a show ... no, really, we spend enough time together throughout the year, and I spend enough time of being on my own. Every once in a while I'd like do a show or just be in the rehearsal room, but I know whenever we get back together we'll work our asses off. As soon as I get off the airplane on the 14th of February - actually I'll land on the 15th - I'll go to the apartment, I'll sleep for a little while, and then I'll get up and we'll be in the rehearsal room together. As soon as I get off that airplane I'm ready to work.

[Silent Force are scheduled to play at ProgPower USA III in November 2002]


Discography:
Royal Hunt - Moving Target (1995)
Royal Hunt - Live 1996 (1996)
Royal Hunt - Paradox (1997)
Royal Hunt - Closing The Chapter (1998)
Royal Hunt - Double Live In Japan (1996)
DC Cooper (1999)
Silent Force - The Empire Of Future (2000)
Silent Force - Infatuator (2001)
Silent Force - Worlds Apart (2004)
Silent Force - Walk The Earth (2007)
Royal Hunt - Show Me How To Live (2011)
Royal Hunt - A Life To Die For (2013)
Silent Force - Rising From Ashes (2013)
Royal Hunt - Devil's Dozen (2015)

Added: June 2nd 2002
Interviewer: Marcelo Silveyra

Artist website: www.facebook.com/silentforceofficial
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