This being my first outing as a rock journalist I must admit I was rather nervous as I waited outside the Leeds Met for The Cooper Temple Clause’s tour manager to appear. Before leaving the nouse office that morning I had been warned that as a journalist I would be treated as the enemy and briefed in a few of the tricks of the trade that would allow me greater access to the band, and it was with all these dire warnings rushing through my head that I entered the band’s dressing room. What awaited me on the other side was not the serious group of security guards and lackeys that I had feared but a mass of damp black hair which seemed to be locked in mortal combat with a small hairdryer. I am not sure which side won that epic battle but after a few moments the hair was thrown back to reveal Coopers drummer Jon Harper who waved cheerily and started offering sandwiches and cans of drink. We were joined a few moments later by guitarist (and effects whiz) Tom Bellamy and so the interview commenced.
The impression that I got of the band as people on that day was interestingly much the same as I got from listening to their debut album for the first time; they are weird, they are random, they are pretty damn cool. Questions on the subject of the state of the popular music scene and the problems with working with big record companies were quickly lost amongst discussions of butterscotch jelly beans, cannibalism (it was decided that in the event of starvation they should each attempt to eat their own legs) and why Pro Evolution Soccer "gets right on my (Jon’s) f**king tits."
One of the things that gives the Coopers such an impressively full sound is of course the number of people they have. Six people all with their own musical ideas (and each needing their share of the pay packet) could be considered a blessing or a curse but it is clear what the band themselves think.
"We were always like a six piece so it just felt right." Jon says, as if the idea of not having the other guys around never occurred to him. He goes on to explain another major advantage.
"It’s always good ‘cos if someone’s pissed off they go to bed and you can party with whoever’s hanging around." The fact that they are a relatively large group of friends certainly alleviates some of the stress of life on the road which Tom describes as "claustrophobic, smelly, annoying," and "horrible." These comments spark off a discussion on smells.
Jon – "We can identify each other by their farts!"
Dan – "There are the different smells; there are the me and Tom smells, there’s the Kieran’s feet smell there’s the Jon’s just got off stage smells."
Jon – "These two are renowned for the quality and quantity that they produce, so we had to ban them from like the living area. So they’re not allowed to produce that kind of stench otherwise there’s a drinking penalty of two caps of vodka."
At this point the conversation somehow moves on to the war in Iraq and Dan tells us about the dream he had last night in which the Iraqi secret police arrived at his house to see how many cars he had. As I said before, they are weird and they are random, but I must confess, I like them.
So what does the future hold? "We’d like to go to America. We haven’t really got any support over there with record companies and stuff, but that’s what we’re trying to work on at the moment."
The second album should be out some time in August, and if the band’s flights of fancy during our little chat are anything to go by, they are still as creative as ever so bigger and better things are just around the corner.