Interview with The Fell drummer Randy Cooke – Sept 12th Ottawa Concert
Ottawa Ontario – All-star rock band The Fell are playing The Brass Monkey in Ottawa on September 12th, 2017.
The band features award winning bassist Billy Sheehan (Steve Vai, David Lee Roth, Mr. Big), guitarist Mike Krompass (Smash Mouth), drummer Randy Cooke (Smash Mouth), and vocalist Anthony De La Torre.
Lead singer Anthony De La Torre is also a Hollywood actor. He played young Jack Sparrow in the 2017 blockbuster movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
“Even though I’ve only known Anthony for a short while, it didn’t take long to realize what a consummate professional and badass singer he was, as well, what a great vibe he has on a personal level just hanging out getting to know him,” drummer Randy Cooke disclosed.
Randy Cooke is also a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and adored Anthony De La Torre’s role in that film.
“I did see the movie! I’m a long time fan of the franchise and I loved Anthony’s role in it. I don’t think there would’ve been a more perfect person cast for that role,” Randy Cooke added.
The Fell’s music video for the single “Footprints” was originally filmed at a bomb shelter and biological weapons test site in Poland. The single and and video were both re-done with Anthony De La Torre.
“We did redo a new video for the single “Footprints”. Anthony and Mike had a lot to do with the shooting, editing and art direction of the new video. Although the location of a Polish bomb shelter is pretty amazing for a video shoot, the new video brought a new life to the visual aspect of the song and I couldn’t be happier with where it ended up,” Randy Cooke said.
The music video received a lot of exposure being featured in Guitar World’s online magazine.
“Having the video featured in Guitar World’s online magazine was fantastic! Mike and Billy are both incredible musicians and it’s definitely an honour for the band to be exposed to such an internationally huge viewership. We were all so excited and appreciative of that,” Randy Cooke stated.
Progress on The Fell’s debut album is coming along nicely, and fans can tentatively expect a release in early 2018.
“It’s going amazing. Almost all of the songs have been mixed and mastered and we’re shooting for an early 2018 release. As far as the title, we’re still tossing around a few ideas so we’ll have to circle back on that one,” Randy Cooke replied.
Mike Krompass and Randy Cooke have a lot of history together. Both were in Smash Mouth, and both have toured and recorded for various projects over the course of 20 years.
“To describe my working relationship with Mike goes far beyond working with Smash Mouth, which of course in and of itself was crazy fun and still is to this day! Mike and I have been involved in and out of touring bands and recording projects for at least 20 years now!
You can imagine how that kind of musical chemistry and longtime friendship plays a great role in how locked in we are musically, and how much of our musical visions are in sync, and it plays out live and on recording’s with The Fell.
The overall feeling is definitely similar having had that long time familiarity and having played together in so many different situations for so long,” Randy Cooke said.
Randy Cooke, who has been a professional drummer for 30 years, got his first drumkit at the age of 15. His father was also a drummer, and couldn’t be more proud that his son took up that instrument.
“The memories of setting up that first drum kit in my bedroom and driving my parents bat-shit crazy! Hahaha! Actually, in all seriousness, my father being a drummer couldn’t of been more proud and happy for me to be bashing away, and my mom was and is still so so supportive of everything I do musically.
I was a bit of a late starter when it came to having a drum set of my own. I got my first drum set at Christmas at the age of 15. My folks got it from the local music store in our neighborhood and it was student level Pearl kit called Maxwin. The drums were inexpensively made and probably sounded average, but I didn’t know the difference anyway. I was just so ecstatic to own my own drum set. I remember the cymbals that came with the kit were so thin and cheaply made you could bend them inside and out with your hands – they sounded horrible! Hahaha.
It was a few years later that I eventually saved up enough money and finally got my first really great pro quality drum kit. it was a Yamaha recording custom kit with Zildjian cymbals. They were the drum & cymbal brands that I always wanted to play, and I’m still a tried-and-true Yamaha/Zildjian endorser to this day,” Randy Cooke proclaimed.
Now Randy Cooke, a veteran drummer, has his own signature drumsticks.
“I remember poking around drum stores and trying different stick brands and I kept coming back to regal tip sticks because they had the most interesting lacquer/finish. I just loved the way they felt in my hands versus other brands who’s lacquer was somewhat thinner and not as grippy. Yeah, that’s my own musical drum term. Hahaha.
A great pal of mine and a killer rock drummer named Mark Cavarzan (Brighton Rock) had been working with the company and mentioned to me he might be able to put in a good word for me as a potential endorser. After my initial introduction they sent me a bunch of existing models to see if any one model peaked my interest for me to use as my main stick. Some weren’t the right weight, some weren’t the right length, some weren’t the right diameter, some had different tips, and so on. But not one model had all of the things in it that I was looking for. Regardless, I knew I loved the quality of workmanship and feel of the sticks in general.
It was then that Mark mentioned there may be a slight possibility that they would consider building me my own stick. That of course came to fruition. I submitted different aspects of different sticks that I liked. We put all of those characteristics together in one model which resulted in the Randy Cooke Signature drum sticks,” Randy Cooke explained.
Randy Cooke has an incredible resume as a session and touring drummer. He has worked with the likes of Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones), Ringo Starr (Beatles), Alanis Morisette, Kelly Clarkson (American Idol), and Ian Gillan (Deep Purple).
“It’s always interesting to me when reading or hearing about a musicians credits, because you’re never sure what they did specifically with that artist or band. In the cases of the artists you just mentioned you’ll see how vastly different each scenario was.
Like all of the artists that I’ve been so fortunate to play with it’s always somewhat surreal and crazy exciting when you have the opportunity to work with someone that you’ve either grown up watching and listening to on the radio/tv since you were a young musician or more recently seen them shoot to stardom as new current artists,” Randy Cooke remarked.
Mick Jagger was the lead singer of The Rolling Stones. Randy Cooke had the opportunity to work on a three day recording session in California with the legendary musician.
“With Mick Jagger it was a short three day demo recording session in Tarzana California with producer/writer/bass player Mike Bradford. It was Mike’s studio we were working at, and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics who was collaborating with Mick. Mick Jagger was a laid-back really friendly down-to-earth guy to hang around with who after all these years still really enjoyed the recording environment and its process.
The most memorable and yet nerve-racking memory of that session was on day 2 when, for a brief moment, Mike had to step out of the studio for just a few minutes to attend to something. Mick was standing out on the recording floor in front of his microphone eager to record some vocals on a particular section of a song we were working on
Dave Stewart, myself and a few others were just sitting around in the control room – Dave turns to me and asks if I know how to run ProTools and operate the system because Mick wanted to record a few vocals and not wait. I said yes, and sat myself down in the seat in front of the computer and proceeded to record him singing a few lines. I actually remember my hand shaking a little bit every time I was supposed to hit the space bar to put him into record because god forbid I mess that up and potentially not get the vocal take that he wanted. It was nerve-racking yet exhilarating I got to do that for a few minutes before Mike came back into the control room. I quickly jumped up and got out of that hot seat and let the pro take over! It was so fun!,” Randy Cooke reminisced.
In addition to working with one of the Rolling Stones, Randy Cooke also worked with one of the Beatles. He collaborated with Ringo Starr, playing live performances and television appearances.
“What can I say about having the opportunity to work with a living legend, a music icon, and a groundbreaking drummer like Ringo Starr? It definitely goes down as one of the greatest bucket-list musical moments of my life.
Dave Stewart, being a long time friend and musical collaborator with Ringo, was going to put together a band for Ringo in support of his CD Liverpool 8. It’s release came at an amazing time because that year Liverpool was named city of culture and there isn’t a more recognizable celebrity that hails from Liverpool than Ringo Starr himself.
As many would think, you would maybe meet somebody you’re working with at your first rehearsal and have the comfort and security of putting some time in for a few days or a few weeks prior before embarking on live performances or television appearances, but with Ringo it couldn’t of been more opposite a process
There are times in your career when you’re called upon to show up and know your stuff and basically plug-in and play. These situations are almost always filled with the most pressure and importance because you don’t have the luxury of pre-production that you usually have when working with an artist.
The first time I met Ringo in person, was literally on stage at sound check for our very first televised performance at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Prior to that a few weeks before flying to London, I was in the studio with Dave Stewart working on something for him, and he just handed me the phone and said “somebody wants to say hello to you” and there, on the other end of the line was Ringo. I was super nervous and unbelievably excited to hear that iconic recognizable voice on the other end of the phone, and I told him how excited I was to be working with him and how much I looked forward to meeting and playing with him soon. He was very kind and sweet and said he looked forward to it too. After handing the phone back to Dave my face was sore from smiling for the rest of that day.
All of that said, things went swimmingly that show and we had a successful bunch of shows over the next few months – just the most amazing times were had,” Randy Cooke recalled.
Another artist Randy Cooke had the pleasure to work with was legendary Canadian musician Alanis Morissette.
“For Alanis, I was hired to do a three day demo/writing session for her at a downtown Toronto studio owned by a great writer producer engineer friend Tim Thorney, who’s also a close friend of hers and has a long history of working with her.
She had already had incredibly massive success with her “Jagged Little Pill” release and she basically wanted to get into studio with a drummer and a bass player to knock around some groove and tempo ideas for her to just lyricize to.
I found her process to be really very interesting, in that she played grand piano and basically in a stream of consciousness sort of way, sang whatever came to her mind both melodically and lyrically for a few minutes. Eventually we would stop and she’d turn to me and ask me to start a different type of groove at a different tempo; just whatever I felt like at the time and we all just sort of fell in to whatever groove or vibe spontaneously, and off we’d go again.
It was so relaxing and fun, with no pressure at all, and working in that type of environment always makes for a really creative platform for an artist to experiment with.
Some of the moments that stayed with me from that session, other than watching her amazing ability to make up amazing lyrics and melodies on the spot, were how considerate and interested she was in finding out and learning a little bit about the musicians she was playing and hanging out with..
There would be moments where we would take a break and just be sitting around and she would ask about what my influences were or what my goals were musically. Just taking a general interest in someone that you’re working with is such a kind attribute to have,” Randy Cooke added.
Randy Cooke also has credits on two Kelly Clarkson albums – drumming for the first ever American Idol winner.
“My Kelly Clarkson credit will probably come as a surprise to many readers in that, I’ve never met her! Hahaha. On her “breakaway” CD I’m on two tracks, “Where is your Love” and the other, a radio single called “Walk Away”. On the CD titled “Stronger”, I’m on the track “Honestly”. I’ve never met Kelly and I’ve never played live with her although that’s obviously something that I would love down the track. She has a brilliant live band and if the planets ever align and create a situation where I can go do some touring with her, that’d be fantastic.
A lot of current music nowadays has a slightly different recording process. Instead of having an entire band with the singer in the studio all recording at the same time, situations exist now where everything is done in stages and steps. So drums first then maybe a couple of days later those files will be sent to a different studio or someone’s home studio and a bass player will put on his/her tracks on top of my drumming. Then so on and so forth for guitars, keys, and any programming.
Through this whole process there might be a guide vocal also referred to as a ‘rough vocal’ that eventually will be erased and replaced with the main one, so you can see there isn’t a inherent necessity to have the singer present at all of those stages.
Sometimes it’s an artists personal preference, sometimes scheduling, sometimes it’s geographical logistics but it’s definitely a recording reality nowadays,” Randy Cooke observed.
Randy Cooke has also toured with Ian Gillan of Deep Purple.
“Last, but certainly not least, the class act that is Ian Gillan. So many great moments and great memories from the solo tour we did and eventual live DVD that was recorded from that tour.
Ian is a warm kind and humble soul. It’s an interesting combination to find when you’re talking about the singer from the band Deep Purple, who’s signature guitar riff from their massive hit “Smoke on the Water” is probably the first guitar riff that every rock guitar player ever learns around the world!
His signature voice and incredible range are second to none and hearing that voice every night, day in day out on a tour week after week is just unbelievable. Not to mention, as an aside, his work in the Broadway performance and recording of “Jesus Christ Superstar” shows his versatility and strength as one of the greatest rock singers to date.
One of the hardest working guys in the music business, and is incredibly generous with his musical family members at the pub after a show! I just love that guy,” Randy Cooke concluded.
Randy Cooke has also worked with Hilary Duff, Colin Hay (of Men at Work), The Pointer Sisters, Ashley Tisdale, Mandy Moore, Lee Aaron, Rik Emmet, Sass Jordran, Chantal Kreviazuk and Kim Mitchell (just to name a few). He also has had television appearances on David Letterman, Jay Leon, Regis & Kelly, Larry King, and many more.
The Fell concert starts at 7pm and is 19+. Early bird tickets are $25 and general admission is $30. Tickets are available online at Ticket Zone.