Monday, July 22, 2013

Interview with Robespierre

Lead vocalist/guitarist David Cooke

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Robespierre vocalist/guitarist David Cooke. I want to thank him for taking the time to sit down and answer a few questions for Heavy Metal Time Machine. For fans of the N.W.O.B.H.M. scene or even those that just like good heavy metal/thrash metal hybrid bands I strongly encourage you to check out their recently released album "Die You Heathen, Die!" out now on Skol Records. Incidentally you can read my review "Die You Heathen, Die!" by clicking on the link at the bottom of this interview.

Andy-Let's start at the beginning. How did the two of you hook up initially?

David-We were in a band called One On One. We advertised for a drummer and Gordon phoned me up. We actually hit it off before we even met. I gave him the gig at the audition which pissed off a certain band member, but it didn’t bother me one bit. David wants what David wants, LOL!

Andy-Was Robespierre always meant to be a studio-only project or was there ever talk of trying it out live?
Drummer Gordon Logan

David-To be honest I don’t really know what it was meant to be. I had the idea to do it and Gordon was well up for it. We had no real ambitions - I suppose it was something we had to get off our chests. I have always been one of the ‘classic’ songwriters so this was an opportunity to thrash out and have some fun with lyrics. As far as playing live was concerned, we had other projects we had commitments to. Here in 2013 playing live is a real possibility, but the personnel has to be right. I won’t be playing guitar as it’s tough to sing and play this music at the same time. In a perfect world it would be so cool to have a ‘Robespierre’ band out there playing our music with our blessing. Wouldn’t that be incredible? Any band can apply for the post!

David Cooke
Andy-The influences on "Die You Heathen, Die!" are so varied and yet it (the album as a whole) perfectly conveys the sound and spirit of the N.W.O.B.H.M. movement. Was there any discussion about what direction to take the recordings or did it all unfold naturally?

David-All quite natural. Neither of us told the other what to do or how to play. We totally went with the flow. I have always been an aficionado of what I call ‘planned accidents’. The room we recorded in was very small and basic. It was next door to an off license which was very convenient. Yes, a fair portion of it was beer-fueled.

 Andy-Was the musical chemistry between you too that obvious once you were in the studio?

David-We have always had a musical chemistry between us whatever the project. Gordon has always had absolute faith in me and that has continually inspired me to go with my gut instincts. The basic structure of the songs was mine in terms of chords and lyrics, but it was Gordon who knocked them into shape and recognizable as songs. I would say the whole direction and atmosphere was conjured up by Gordon’s imaginative drumming and overall ideas. I just bounced off what he did. It was easy. The great thing I remember was how much fun it was. It wasn’t meant to sound like Yes or Gentle Giant. Mistakes were left in. We were all after capturing the moment. I can recall listening back to the recordings and being very pleased at the sound and atmosphere of it. I am terribly self-critical though. I couldn’t imagine anyone else liking it. It was something we did purely for US. Gordon was the one giving the tape to the DJ at the Moonstone. I would have just thrown it in the drawer.The music has been compared to this band and that band. I can sort of see where the comparisons are coming from, but I think we were quite ‘unique’ – and that can be a good or a bad thing.

 Andy-What were your day jobs back then?

David-Gordon worked in a department store and I worked in a local council office. We hated our jobs. It was clear we never fitted in and struggled to even pretend to. I was always on a ‘disciplinary’ for telling my ‘bosses’ to **** off. It was then I learnt that especially in local councils, the higher you go, the stupider they become. Some used to laugh at me for filling my time making music. They more or less mocked my life. Far better to sit watching soaps with a few cans of beer by your side eh?

Andy-How about now? Where has life taken the pair of you?

David-Gordon is a property developer and still lives in Merseyside. I am a tattoo artist living in North Devon. We are both proud family men and reasonably content with our lot. The only problem is that we live a long way away from each other. We still record together and have done demos of about 24 songs which we are whittling down to 12 for a new album.

Andy-A new album would be a thing of wonder for fans for sure! Can you tells us though
how the deal came about with Skol Records?

David-Bart got in touch and said he wanted to put out the album previously released on vinyl by BBTAD and we said OK. The deal was no more that that really. We love what he has done. The booklet is stunning.

Andy-I couldn't agree more! The overall package is just killer. I wonder David, if it could be worked out somehow would you ever consider playing live?

David-Short answer: yes! It’s highly unlikely that I could replicate those insane yelps though.

Andy-Those are some pretty impressive yelps! The material on the Skol Records release is nothing short of kick ass! Were there any favorite numbers for you?

David-Not really. I am still very critical of whatever I do. I am never one to sit there and think ‘I could have done better there’. It is what it is. A moment captured in time. If people like it, great. If they don’t, that’s great too. If you twisted my arm – ‘Backs To The Wall’. The whole song is in danger of collapsing at any moment, but we made it through to the end of the song in one piece.

Andy-What's next for the band David?

David-A new album perhaps. Maybe some festivals next year. We will consider all offers.

Andy-That would be great! Anything you'd like to add before we part company?

David-Thank you for your interest and enthusiasm. I know the music is quite odd when compared to mainstream, so it’s quite a buzz when people ‘get’ it. What I truly like are the reasons people get off on it. I know from my own experiences that ‘mystique’ plays a bit part in it all. Now people can put names and faces to Robespierre, something has been lost – but at least the music is now available in a good reproduction. Having said that, 10th generation cassette copies have their magic too.

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