INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
With a mutual love of all things heavy and fast-paced, a motto, “Challenge oppression, pursue equality“, and a desire to spread a positive message in these uncertain times, London-based quintet COPE have already won praise from fans and critics alike with a politically-charged mixture of punk and hardcore.
Last year was difficult at times for the collective, with them facing quite a few trials and tribulations. However, they rose above it, releasing their second EP, ‘Tooth & Nail’, and playing a stellar headline set at north London venue Thousand Island.
In the midst of a mini-blizzard that engulfed Derby recently, where the guys were playing an all-day rock festival marking St Patrick’s Day, I chatted with their guitarist, Josh Bowles, and here’s what he had to say on matters concerning the band:
How did the band first get together?
We actually met on an online forum, but as it turns out, me, Adam, our bassist, and our original guitarist all kind of knew other, as I’m originally from Plymouth, Adam’s from Torquay, and our old guitarist was from Cornwall. We met the other guys online, as well.
From where did the name COPE originate?
I write the lyrics, so for me, I was doing that before the band had even formed, and it was a way of self-coping, and because our motto is “Challenge oppression, pursue equality“, our name is also an acronym.
Speaking of writing the lyrics, what would you say was your approach to songwriting?
Usually, Ed, our other guitarist, will put together a rough mix of drums and stuff that he will then send over to me, and I tend to write about what I’m annoyed about, more than anything else, what has annoyed me on that particular day. I don’t sit down to write lyrics, I’ll write them whenever they come into my head.
2017 was quite a turbulent year for the band, what with departures, trials, and tribulations. How did you all deal with that?
I guess we just had to get on with it, really. We still managed to put a record out, despite a couple of line-up changes. We also did some tours by ourselves, which was hard, but worth it.
We got through it all, because we believe in what we’re doing, and we’re just determined, I guess.
You released your second EP, ‘Tooth & Nail’, last October. How was the recording process for that?
Quick! It was done quite quickly, because we only had three days, which, you know, is enough time, but I wish we’d had more time to do some additional work on the vocals, as while we were recording, Tom, our vocalist, was rather ill, so it was a real push for him.
How well do you think the reaction was to the EP?
The reaction was good, and it was kind of what we had expected. There was nothing really negative, however, there were a few comments on production and stuff, which I can understand, but other than that, I think the EP had a really good response.
And the band launched ‘Tooth & Nail’ with a headline show at north London venue Thousand Island. How was that as an experience?
That was great, actually. It was really encouraging to know that people out there were willing to come and see us play midweek. I think we performed really well, and yeah, it seemed everyone there really enjoyed it.
You donated all of the proceeds from the EP to the Transgender Law Center, a charity that fights against transgender discrimination.
Yeah, we did. It’s a cause that we believe in, and I hope what we did encourages others to do the same.
Will you be planning to do something similar with future releases?
Yeah, definitely. We’re always up for donating to good causes that we believe in, playing charity shows, and we’ll always be happy to get stuck in.
The band have become known for their strong political beliefs. In your view, how has the current volatile political climate affected the music world in general?
Where do you start? I think a lot of people believe that politics and music should be separate, but I disagree. I think music is politics, and politics is music. Some say that “bad governments make great music“, and that’s true. Without all of the shit that’s going on currently, I think I’d be struggling for stuff to write about.
At the end of the day, I think there is a lot to be done, bands have this obligation to stick up for what they believe in. Whether their politics is right-wing, left-wing, whatever they are, I think they should still be involved in giving an opinion, and if you don’t vote, don’t voice your opinion, you really are a part of the problem within that.
You’ve been tipped for big things, and have been featured in Metal Hammer and Rock Sound magazines. That’s something you all must have been pleased about.
Yeah, definitely. Me and the other guys have grown up reading these magazines, so to have kind words written about us from them, it’s been really encouraging.
The band are playing St Paddy’s Revenge in Derby later today. How, for you all, is the experience of playing live?
We love it. We take a slightly different approach to our shows. Our music is quite serious in its content, so when we play live, we try to flip that over on its head, just have fun, and show crowds that it’s not all doom and gloom.
I mean we’re all still here, and we’re allowed to freely play a show. In Iraq, there is a band that have been persecuted for playing metal music, and I think in this country, we do take it for granted the freedoms that we have, because we can just come out here and play a set without fear of persecution, so it’s great, and we really love it.
What are your plans for the near future?
We’ve got a new release coming out soon, a single, and we’ll be releasing a video with that, too. Also, we’ll be touring again later this year, and we’re currently sorting out some festival stuff, so we should be out and about a bit more for the rest of 2018, fingers crossed, so yeah, hopefully, it will all go well.
‘TOOTH & NAIL’, THE SECOND EP FROM COPE, IS NOW AVAILABLE TO STREAM, DOWNLOAD OR PURCHASE FROM SPOTIFY, iTunes, APPLE MUSIC, GOOGLE PLAY, AMAZON MUSIC, DEEZER, BANDCAMP AND SOUNDCLOUD.
THE BAND WILL ALSO BE PLAYING A WEEKENDER WITH FROWN UPON THIS COMING WEEKEND. MORE DETAILS CAN BE FOUND BELOW:
MORE INFO ON COPE CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: