Dave Cooke talks about life after Landspeed Loungers, Wrath Records, the local scene and the fortunes of his new band...
In a week that saw Being 747 play four gigs, Andy Roberts spoke to frontman Dave Cooke who talked candidly about the past in the Landspeed Loungers before bringing us right up to date with news of his forthcoming new EP 'Music of the Clones'.
Give us a little potted history of how you came to be Being 747
I'm from East Anglia originally and I came to Leeds to do a degree in furniture design and it was then that I started playing in bands. The first band I was in was called No Uncle, No! But that was just a college band and then after that I started a band called Bill Sykes who lasted for quite a while but we didn't really go anywhere. Although we had some nice tunes I was very into Orange Juice at the time and everybody was into Grunge and I didn't want to do anything that was Grungey. We were a bit odd and lyrically it was very obtuse - I think I was trying to be as off-the-wall as possible.
So that's where you developed your unique lyrical style?
Well yes, in a way although I don't really think I found out who I really was at that time. We just didn't take advantage of anything that came along - completely directionless really. We briefly had management but we didn't really know what to do with ourselves, though we did have some good stuff. Some of the recorded stuff was really good, there'd be an interesting musical bit then a completely unrelated chorus. Then the Landseed Loungers came about because there was a group of bands that were part of a clique that all split up at the same time.
Like Grandads Don't Indicate?
Yeah they were great, that's where Steve (Adams) came from and Babyglide - so that was Eric (Jackson) and Bill (Bartlett), then there was Simon (Moran) who was in another local band called the Fallen Sons. So we got together and we had a feeling of what we might become, I wanted us to go into a Motown kind of thing at one point... Country and Western Motown and we went off into some kind of strange direction. I think where we really found our feet was with 'Sweet Pea'. At that time, I really thought oh wow, we've really got something unique here!
So you'd really got yourself into writing in that very quirky kind of way you do so well?
Yeah there were some very odd songs written at that time but there certainly were some good songs. I was mucking around with different time signatures mainly to entertain Bill. He would muck around with numbers, write down series of numbers and try and mix things up like that. But that (The Landspeed Loungers) ran its course because we really needed to come up with some pop songs...
Did you feel a little under pressure to come up with the pop goods at the time then?
Well not really, because I like pop songs, I like to hear an interesting pop tune that has a melody that goes where you least expect it to go. And that's what I've always liked. I've never been really into lots of arty nonsense unless it's really good arty nonsense. So I don't mind pop tunes - I really admire them. I've always liked bands that have always written a good pop tune. Someone like Lovin' Spoonful had really good tunes from a songwriting point of view and a good pop song that's got interesting bits inside it.
Not wishing to dwell on the Loungers thing too much, it's no great secret that there's a long lost album out there that's going to see the light of day soon... are you fully behind that or should the past be left alone in your mind?
It is going to come out, yeah. You see the thing is, we recorded a load of songs for an album before we split up but I don't think it's some of our best stuff so I would argue the case that some of it shouldn't find it's way onto an album. Though saying that, just as we split up there were a couple of songs that were really good that we never actually got round to recording. The thing is we had an album recording session, but I would like to play around with it a little. Bill has got loads and loads of stuff of ours recorded onto minidisc - he was recording all the time. I'd like to really sit down with all this stuff to chose from and really put out something that represents us - rather than a collection of the obvious. We really need to get together and talk about it. We are agreed that we are going to do it.
Are you agree that you're all going to promote it?
Yes, we are. Because we're playing with Galitza (featuring all the other ex-members of the Loungers) on September 13th and we are going to be doing a Loungers song then.
So it certainly isn't a case that it's never going to happen again?
Things are a lot more amicable now - especially all doing the Wrath thing, it's really ironed out any ill feeling.
So coming right up to date with the Being 747 thing, when you first ventured out onto stages you were solo, just you and an acoustic guitar but now with Paul and Steve (Morricone) it's obviously more of a band thing. Are you treating it as a band rather than you solo with backing musicians?
Yes I am. I'm still going to do solo stuff here and there like Futuresound (Dave's second gig that week). I like doing acoustic solo gigs. I like seeing the sparseness of it - you just have to write good songs. I've still got a lot of songs that work well like that but there's still a lot for the band.
Have you still got a real ambition? Has the ambition to 'get signed' now waned now that you're on Wrath? Does that feel like a weight off the shoulders?
Well the thing is, we've only got so much money to do this but the Wrath thing is the only way I can see us going forward... I'm 32 now and especially the way I write songs and don't see anyone coming along and saying 'hey, I can give you a future in music'. That said, I can still see myself developing an audience because people seem to like it. I feel a lot more confident about what I'm doing now, songwriting and what I do. I write cynical stuff about the (music) industry but I don't see it as all bad, honest. It's more of a cultural difference than a musical difference.
Do you feel positive about the Leeds scene... people would say it's got a thriving scene but would you agree with those who would say it's a very cliquey scene?
It's always had different cliques. And what I want to do is see it get away from that. I'm a lot more involved in the scene now, because I never had anything to do with it previously. I didn't go out of my way to book gigs or forge ties. But now I'm more interested in that and going and seeing a band and saying 'now they could go somewhere'.
So you're playing A&R man yourself then... wouldn't signing another band to Wrath go someway to dispelling those claims of cliquey-ness?
Well we've already had a CD sent to us, but I'm not going to say who it's from. No, but it's good. I like to hear that there's bands around doing something different. Just the last five years or so it's just been 'let's jump on that bandwagon... ahh no that one's gone... let's jump on tha...!'. You see bands that change themselves overnight. It's just absolutely ridiculous... no I'm not going to get cynical about it...!
You always seem to pick up some rather good support slots, so you're obviously quite well though of by promoters...
I've always struggled with that, thinking 'just how the hell did they get that support slot' and yet just recently it's just been really good for us. Well no, you do have to badger people. You've got to find out who's promoting the good gigs and badger them. Because I never thought we got very good supports considering the kinds of crowds we used to pull down. I think we played with the same bands too much and that's what you've got to get out of, because otherwise you just get the same people coming to see you all the time - and it does get cliquey and stale. I was always irritated that we didn't get any decent supports but I've had a lot more offers of gigs and it's been great, because we haven't really chased any gigs.
The last single 'Weathergirl' has done rather well in terms of publicity hasn't it?
It's a nice little song, some people are irritated by the abundance of weather metaphors, but it is tongue in cheek and sincere at the same time. And we have had a bit of radio play. I thought we might have got more - but we'll have to see with the next songs, because we've got an awful lot of them.
So you're looking to release something in the near future?
The next EP is going to be 'The Music of the Clones' which is a themed EP. It's about being in bands and I've got four songs that run in a certain order. The clones are the people behind the music industry - not the actual bands themselves, the shadowy figures that control it all. It's not designed to be too cynical - because I don't want to be too sarky about the music industry but...