By: Thomas D. Mooney
New Slang caught up with Ross Cooper to discuss what’s been the latest for the Lubbock native, his 2010 release “Headcase,” and the evolution and development as a songwriter. You can catch Cooper and company play The Blue Light Thursday, October 6. Head over to www.cdbaby.com to check out available albums, “Ross Cooper” and the EP “Headcase.”
1. You released the EP “Headcase,” this past year. What have been the best complements and just overall reception you’ve heard?
For me, the most gratifying compliments that I’ve received have been from my fellow songwriters. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing fan feedback and I love trying to gain new fans. But, the pats on the back from other musicians, songwriters, and people I look up to, [they] make you feel pretty good. When I get complimented by those people, I kind of think, “Man, maybe I’m on the right track.” I guess that’s the goal, finding that middle ground between writing something that the fans really like and writing something that songwriters respect. [I’m] still trying to figure it out.
2. I read that you thought “Headcase” was a more mature release than your self-titled debut. What do you think you have learned most between the two releases, even when they’re only a few years apart.
I could name a million things that I learned between the two releases. When I released my debut album, I didn’t have a band. I had a bunch of songs that I had written throughout high school and my freshman year of college, and I hired some great musicians that I went to South Plains College to play on it. On our latest release, with an exception of a couple of additional musicians (Bukka Allen, Brian Standefer, and Jeff Plankenhorn), I’m back by my band. We’re more developed stylistically, and the EP what we tracked feels a little more natural and less produced than the first. I guess the main thing I’ve learned, is that music evolves in every aspect, and I think that’s a good thing. That, and packaged candy makes lead guitar players gassy on the road.
3. You’re the primary songwriter for the band and you’ve been writing your own music for a while. Do you ever feel like you’re ready to move on from certain songs and introduce your latest efforts, even when you don’t have an album that is attached to those songs? When and how do you decide that a song has become “boring and old” for you, even if it happens to be one that your fans are attached to?
I always feel like I want and need to introduce new songs. I write all the time. We don’t play a single song of the first album at our shows. Every now and then, I might sneak in a couple when I’m playing an acoustic set. But, in all honesty, our current stuff is such a departure from my first record that I think it would be weird for me playing the songs off the first album. [It’d be] almost like taking a step backwards. We’ve finally kind of settled into “our” sound and I want to push that as much as possible.
4. You’re playing The Blue Light next Thursday. Is the BL you’re favorite venue to play? What makes playing there special to you?
The Blue Light is absolutely my favorite venues to play. I think I can speak for everyone in the band too. The Blue Light is like a second family. Mr. and Mrs. Brooks are two of the best people I know, and Six, Chino, Lance, and the whole staff make us feel at home. Plus, being from Lubbock, that’s my home bar and venue. As far as sound goes, it’s by far one of the best places we’ve played. It’s the only place I know around Lubbock that has phenomenal music every week, and there is always a crowd. There are so many awesome band that play there: Billy Joe Shaver, James McMurtry, Jason Isbell, Old 97’s, etc…It’s an honor to play at the Blue Light.
5. All songwriters are constantly writing, and like you mentioned, you are constantly writing. What’s the plans for your next set of tracks you’ve got? What’s in store for Ross Cooper music in this coming year?
I am planning on being back in the studio in the summer of 2012 to start my second full length album. [I’m] really planning to spend some time and sink my teeth into it. It’s probably going to have around 12 songs on it. And I want to be as hands on as possible. I want to mix a little. I want to play more lead stuff, maybe play some lap steel and piano. I want to create my record. I’m really looking forward to the next year.