Hey everyone, welcome to the first installment of what will hopefully be a new ongoing series of interviews with Kung Fu artists, past and present to help you all get more familiar with the bands and musicians that have made up our roster. Kung Fu Records has had a very diverse collection of releases, and we have been lucky to have some amazing bands come through our halls. We’ll do our best to reach out to different members of the bands to give you a bit of an inside look to who they are, and how they came about.

As the first new Kung Fu release in years, who else would be more appropriate to sit down with then the dynamic power trio, COOPER.  Their brand new Self-Titled album dropped November 25th, and it’s absolutely fantastic.  We sent lead vocalist and guitarist, René van der Zee some questions and here is what he had to say.

 Kung Fu Records: So your bio says you’ve been a band since 1992, I am envious of your ability to keep your band going (seriously!), how did you guys come together? Were you in any previous bands together? I’m trying to make a boring establishing question more interesting, can you tell? 

René van der Zee: No, not at all 🙂
I’d been in a hardcore band with Bertus before Cooper and when that
band split I was thinking of who to play with next. Bertus moved to The
Hague in the meantime while I was still up north where all of us used to
live. I couldn’t think of anyone else I wanted to start a new band with,
so I called Bertus. He said yes and next thing I know I’m in a train
every Sunday for three hours to rehearse (and three hours back).

KFR: How did you come into contact with Kung Fu Records? Were you guys aware of the label prior to working with Kung Fu?

René: Yes we were. We obviously knew the Vandals. We started sending Joe
stuff ever since the second record, but he wasn’t too interested until I
told him our next record was going to be produced by Bill Stevenson.
This record was the first one to be released by Kung Fu in 2005 (Makes
Tomorrow Alright)

KFR: How long has the new album been in the works?  How many songs did you write for it, and how many of them made the cut?  How did you select the songs for the album? 

René: It always takes us about four years to make a new record. We’re really
slow with because we keep working on the songs to make them perfect.
Between the last record (Right Now!) and the new one we wrote about
thirty songs and we ended up with 14 on this album. We just selected
what we thought were the best songs and recorded those.

KFR: Your recorded the album yourselves, how was that?  Where did you record, and who got to be the “Bad Guy” and take the producer role? 

René: We recorded it in one of the rooms of our rehearsal studio and I was
the engineer slash producer, although all three of us had an equal say
in the song structures and end result. It was weird in the sense that we
literally recorded it ourselves with no one else around. As if we were
rehearsing instead of recording.

KFR: The album was mixed by Bill Stevenson and Chris Beeble, and mastered by Jason Livermore at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado. How was it working with them? How did that all come about and how was the album effected by their work in your opinion?  Do you think they helped give the album the huge sound it has (…and yes…the album sounds HUGE!)

René:  Bill, Chris and Jason obviously had a huge impact on how the record
sounds. This album is the third record Bill was involved with, so he
knows us quite well by now and knows what we like and don’t like.
Chris was new to us, but he did a fantastic job in mixing this record.
He came up with some great ideas which really lifted the songs up.
Jason finished it up with some fantastic mastering which totally did
the album justice and made it sound the way it does.

KFR: Is there a song on the album that really stands out for you?  If someone reading this, has never heard you guys, what song off this album would you tell them to listen to?

René: That would be “The Playground”. It’s the song we worked on the most and ended up pretty different than the initial idea. It’s heavily influenced by Stephen Egerton’s solo album Seven Degrees, but it also pretty much says what we want to say as a band.

KFR: How are the songs going over live?  How many have you added to the live set? 

René: I think there’s only one or two songs we don’t play live off this
album. They’re all received pretty well, actually.

KFR: Where did the idea of the album artwork come from? Why did you guys go with a self-titled album? 

René: The artwork was done by Chris Stevenet, I good friend of ours. We only
gave him a couple of general ideas and he came up with the artwork. We
really liked it, because it was different and somehow really connects
with the music.

KFR: Any other Kung Fu bands or releases you like? Any you would recommend to people? Any one that you wish you could do a show/tour with (past or present)?

René: As usual, not the usual. We all really like Apocolypse Hoboken. They
were different. But The Vandals rule.

KFR: What would the Cooper of 2013 say to the Cooper of 1992?

René: You.Are.Not.Going.To.Sell.A.Million.Records, really.

KFR: What are the tour plans for this album?  What’s next for Cooper? 

René: As much as we can. Starting with France in February. Next is writing
for the new record, because that will always the main thing.

KFR: Anything you want to say to someone out there that is hearing about you and your band for the first time? 

René:  Yes: If you’re looking for a band that does things slightly different,
sound slightly different and writes songs that are slightly different.
We’re that band.

A huge thank you to René for taking the time to talk to us.  You can check out the brand new album by COOPER HERE on Kung Fu Records.  Is there a band or band member from Kung Fu Records you want us to interview next?  Let us know on our facebook page!

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