‘Coopers’ tell all

Eric D'Orazio

Having gone out and conquered the world over the past three years with countless mind-blowing shows, not to mention two monumental albums, electro-hard rock outfit The Cooper Temple Clause has actively become one of England’s finest exports. However, this year they meet their biggest challenge yet: breaking into the U.S. market with their second album, “Kick Up The Fire, And Let The Flames Break Loose.” The Reading six-piece, consisting of lead singer Ben Gautrey, guitarist Dan Fisher, guitarist/programmer Tom Bellamy, keyboardist Kieran Mahon, bassist Didz Hammond and drummer Jon Harper, began their first U.S. tour in Washington, D.C., on March 5. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of interviewing Harper and Mahon at that show, as well as hanging out with the whole band. From reminiscing over their early days to discussing their future plans, it was interesting to gain a special insight into the musical force that is The Cooper Temple Clause.

Eric D’Orazio: When did the band form, and how?

Kieran Mahon: Well, the band was first Ben and Tom, and basically people kept coming toward them, joining, sort of year after year. So they had it when they were like 14 or 15. And then Fisher joined at about 16, and then I joined at about 17, and then Jon and Didz joined. So it was about a period of four years of school basically.

Jon Harper: We all lived in the same town, and went to the same school. We all kind of knew each other, but there was this gap in years. So Kieran, Tom, Dan and Ben were all brains in music, and they got a hardcore band together. And then I joined and Didz joined, so it was all quite incestuous.

ED: How did the band get its name?

JH: We had a lot of names. It was a very tricky decision to come up with a name. We wrote down sheets and sheets of paper with ideas on them. We knew that we wanted something kind of awkward, and something that said nothing about the music.

So Ben came up with The Cooper Temple Clause, and we just thought we’d use it for one gig. We got some great reviews and people came along and saw us, talked about us and asked us to do more gigs. So we kind of got lumbered with the name.

ED: At what point did you realize your rock stardom?

KM: Rock stardom?

JH: I think Japan is very telling for that. To go somewhere so foreign and just be treated with ultimate respect by people on the other side of the world, you know. We went there and played a festival, and the reaction was just amazing. Like people running after you in your cars, and people waiting in hotels for you to come out. It’s just insane.

KM: Playing festivals on a big stage with a big crowd, that’s always a really good feeling. We’ve done okay to come this far.

ED: If you were not in a rock band, what would you be doing right now?

JH: Well, me and Kieran are the members who fleeted with university. I was studying to be an architect. So I think if we hadn’t got signed and gone down the music route, then I’d still be studying to be an architect.

KM: I was doing history and American studies, so I’d probably be living here, talking to you, but not in a band.

ED: What has been your craziest tour experience?

KM: Well, I wasn’t involved in it, but waking up the next morning to learn that both Tom and Fisher had been in a terrible golf cart incident. It was more surreal when Tom tried to get out of his bunk and I saw him practically crippled. I was a bit worried, to say the least. Also, meeting Natalie Imbruglia at Glastonbury last year, that was one of the happiest days of my life.

ED: What’s your favorite song on the new album, and why?

JH: I think for me it’s “New Toys.” We called it “New Toys” because when we were starting to make the album, we hired in loads of equipment just to mess around with, and the song went down very quickly. I think it’s probably one of my best drum parts on the album.

KM: I agree. It’s one of those songs we all worked on quite equally, and it’s nice when you get those ideas together.

ED: What is the next single?

JH: I think it’s probably going to be “New Toys.” We’re thinking about doing something a little different, though we’re not quite sure yet. We’ve got a guy out on the road with us who is doing a DVD, so we might put together a tour film with American footage and photos, and a couple new tracks as b-sides.

KM: We don’t know what the single is going to be in America yet, but we’re sort of playing with the idea of “Same Mistakes.” We’ll probably do an edit of it and get it out to radio in a few weeks or months, if ever.