Music News 360 caught up with Liz Cooper ahead of her show at The Chapel in cloudy San Francisco, CA. We discussed the importance of not taking life too seriously, how the band once avoided a highway shoot out, the ever present influence of Jerry Garcia, and a possible collaboration with Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes.
we are sixteen days in.. west coast tour.
I love it. especially this time of year compared to the East Coast.
It is starting to get really humid out there, and brutally hot
I think I did not pack as well as I should have.. it’s a little chilly.
We were on the beach today earlier, near the Golden Gate, and it was really windy
I was not prepared for that.
Going to Vancouver… I will have to find all my layers.
it changes all the time.
like people who just don’t give a shit and are doing something kind of weird… usually those people are my spirit animals
but right now… I’d say a snake
Growing up, I was really afraid of them, but they have been popping up in my life recently…
Snakes have a lot of wisdom and shed their skin
It’s a growth thing.. they are just constantly growing and re finding themselves, in a way
Well in dreams… and there was one in my bathroom
They have been finding me on hikes and walks.
I am wearing a snake ring right now.
I found it in Sedona, Arizona… randomly.
I like the shag rug because they are really soft and comfortable, and
there is something nostalgic about them… but also
maybe we are a tree, at the same time
the texture of bark, like
it has seen some stuff a little bit, and it is a little weathered down
the texture of the tree, yeah…
Window Flowers is the mountains.
The new album is the beach, the mountains, and the desert combined.
One of my earliest memories ever is riding around in my dad’s truck singing ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ by the Beatles
My parents were always open to art and creativity.
My dad played the drums, and I played the pots and pans.
It wasn’t like anyone was making me do it.
I found music myself just from it being presented to me, and not being forced upon me.
There are a lot of musical people in my family, but I was the first one who was really obsessed with it.
Just practicing and playing and getting bored with stuff…
When I first started playing, I would just learn little pop songs from tabs or by ear.
I was listening to a lot of folk and blue grass music, and started wondering how they did the finger picking.
And after listening to it a lot, I began to pick it up with my right hand and was able to do it myself.
A less obvious influence on me is 90s pop. I love Destiny’s Child. I love that kind of music and it is influencing certain vocal melodies I have been doing, especially on the new music.
I’ve always loved Jerry Garcia.
I do it all by feel… I don’t really know theory or scales.
I am just listening and hearing. For some reason, my ear always goes to the mixolydian scale.
He did a lot of that… and because of how much I listened to the Grateful Dead, it has definitely affected certain things I do with the guitar.
I try not to get into it all the way, because that’s their thing.
If you try to sound like the Grateful Dead…. you just can’t!
So Jerry Garcia definitely influenced me.
yesterday we were in Santa Cruz, and this lady Christina, she brought us pedals that her brother had made. His name is Chuck Buick. He passed away a few years ago, and he invented these pedals. She didn’t want to sell them. She wanted to pass them along to musicians she loves, so she wanted to give one to me.
That’s how a lot of my pedals have come about, by just randomly stumbling upon things that come about.
I’m not a huge gear nerd, by any means…
Moving to Nashville… I basically started everything while in Nashville.
I started to write and making my own song right before moving to Nashville.
I was influenced by Country people and … the East Nashville scene was starting to have new life to it.
I think I came in at the perfect time to absorb all these different kinds of music.
Just the people that I linked up with, at the root of it was … rock n roll music.
Simple, and really honest… that’s kind of what Nashville is all about, and … really honing in on your craft.
People in Nashville don’t really give a shit what you are wearing, who you are, or who your parents are…
It’s can you write a song and are you speaking your truth?
I think I learned that living in Nashville.
I am sure I would have absorbed different things if I had moved here, or LA or New York, so something like that…
Aaron Ray, she is one of my favorite writers, her music is beautiful, she is amazing. Listen to her.
Listen to Becca Mancari.
Harpooner, just an amazing writer and arranger.
There are a lot … there is a lot of amazing music coming out of Nashville.
There was a theme happening in my songs, a lot of flowers…
Where I lived in Nashville where I was writing the songs.. I was living in this basement apartment and there weren’t many windows.
At that point in time, I was really depressed and just in a weird place. And living in that basement apartment I had a vase of flowers and they died. They were still really beautiful, and that was kind of a muse for me. The flowers in the window, so window flowers.
All the songs on the record I wrote on the acoustic guitar, before presenting them to the band.
As a three piece there is a lot of space, so when we went into the studio, I wanted to amp it up while also capturing what we do live.
Our communication with each other as a live band is really good… and that is another thing I take away from The Grateful Dead–every night is a different show.
You play differently in front of different people. If you play in front of 10 people you are going to play differently, than say 2000 people.
Playing with Lord Huron, those have been some of the largest audiences to date.
You just learn and feed off the energy of the audience, and somehow amp it up… every show we learn something and apply it.
There are a lot of weird things that happen out here, though.
We were on the highway in the middle of the night in nowhere Louisiana…
I was sleeping and woke up to see a car next to us. There was a woman with the interior light on trying to get our attention. It looked like she was losing her mind and making all these hand signals. Punching her hands together.
We didn’t know what to do. We were like, “Is she okay?”
So we followed her off the ramp and pulled into this gas station.
We were cautious of her, but didn’t know if she needed help.
It turned out that we got off at the last possible exit before there was a road closure because there was a shoot out happening a mile down the road.
Between a police officer and this person–there was a car chase.
This woman somehow had the inside scoop, and she had been going way out of her way to let us know.
She was looking out for us.
I’ve been trying to write a lot while between shows. Writing notes into the phone and recording on garage band.
We all read, and sleep, and stare out the window, and … contemplate everything.
The new record is going to be a little more psychedelic. A little more intentional. Maybe a bit darker.
Just more mature, I think.
I love jamming, but I also hate the word ‘jam’.
We are very intentional with our instrumental sections.
I think I need to get in touch with Brittany Howard. I would really love to collaborate with her.
Don’t take everything as seriously. Really!
If you do, you can get really stuck in a hole. The beauty of life is to go out of your comfort zone. Don’t take everything so seriously. I think that’s really healthy!