ANDY COOK

CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your music, what would it be and why?

AC: Genre-wise, I’d like to call it indie rock. It’s also been called Americana, and there are certainly influences there. But I love bands like the Strokes or Alvvays where there are some really great lyrics almost hidden inside super catchy guitar and synth lines. The words matter, but so does the music—so I guess I’d call it lyric-driven guitar and synth indie rock, if that’s a thing?

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

AC: Mainly from regular life, my observations of the world, and trying to understand and then express it all in some way.

CH.89: What made you want to start a music project?

AC: I was honestly always afraid of singing and did anything I could to get out of it, and didn’t play an instrument until a few years ago—2012 I think. But I heard a song on the radio that made me want to play guitar, and from there I wanted to write lyrics to go with music, and then I discovered that music is a way I can process and navigate my experiences, and hopefully leave something good behind too.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new album?

AC: I love having a concept—so for this one, it started as “Modern Society” and became “Modern Man” with “man” meant to reference humans as a species and also the interesting way man as a gender and position of power also influences humanity. My lyrics are driven by the concept, and for the music I like to think of shapes, colors, and feelings, and then find the chords and sounds that match that—and I get a lot of help from my bandmates, they deserve so much of the credit.

CH.89: What would you want people/ the listener to take from your music?

AC: That the world is tough and a little messed up, but there’s a lot of good left and we can create more of that. And really, whatever it means to the listener is what it should mean—once these songs leave me, they’re everyone’s to interpret and find something out of, whatever that may be.

CH:89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

AC: Right now I work a regular job during the day, so a lot of the lifestyle is figuring out how to fit it all in. I love playing guitar and trying to become a better player, so I practice and just mess around with ideas every day. And when there’s an idea that I particularly like, I focus in on that and try to make a song out of it. When I have enough good ideas, I start to block out more time to revise and work out details. I also go to a lot of shows, because I enjoy them and they’re great learning opportunities too. I also try to take care of myself as best as possible, so that it all fits together. I used to be a hockey player and now I do triathlon, so I think keeping it all balanced is a challenge but forces me to also be focused and set priorities. It’s the coolest, most amazing thing to be able to play music and create – so above all I try to be grateful for that and keep art central to who I am.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

AC: For me personally, I need a plan to do my best work. I think a sense of discipline helps get things done, and for my concept-minded self, stay tight to that direction. And there are always those experience and moments that seem to come out of nowhere, so I try to not let those escape away either.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist?

AC: Rejection happens, and it’s not the end of the world. Take it, learn from it if there’s something to be learned, and keep growing.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

AC: If it’s genuine to the person, I think it is important. Our style – whether it be in fashion, music, other art forms, general lifestyle – is an expression of who we are. And if it’s genuine, everyone will feel that. Basically, style is a statement. So for me it’s like “hey, I know I’m not that cool, but I’m doing what I can, and what you see is what you get.” Super stylish, haha.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

AC: Maintaining confidence when there is so much talent out there, so much music, and it’s quite hard to scratch the surface of the industry. It can feel like an uphill battle constantly, but having support like I do from mentors, friends, bandmates – and Good Eye Records, they are amazing – has been so helpful.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

AC: I get to take ideas and turn them into something! And working with others, I love that too.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artists that inspire you in any way?

AC: My guitar teacher and producer Jeremy Ylvisaker – he is so creative, so skilled, and also so humble and kind. If I can be half of the musician and person he is, I’ll be happy.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

AC: It’s great, and it’s also a challenge. I wonder, honestly, how did booking shows and touring and such happen before email? Kind of joking, but serious. Technology makes organizing the business of art easier in many ways. And our ability to launch things into the world is unprecedented. But the rate that this happens is so rapid, and the attention span we have due to technology is so short, that making anything stick is a huge challenge. I think finding the benefits of technology and maximizing those is the key, and then accepting and working through the more difficult elements it creates.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

AC: At the very least it allows me to express those views differently. And I do think it creates a sense of openness and curiosity that allows artists – or consumers of art – an ability to receive and perceive things differently. There’s a mindset of “if it doesn’t exist, I can make it. And if it does exist, I’ll give it a chance with an open mind.”

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

AC: I don’t seek it out, but I don’t mind it either. I love San Fransisco. And I’m headed to New York City for the first time for my release, so that will be quite a fun experience!

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

AC: Maybe cliche, but I love To Kill a Mockingbird. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger is also one of my favorite books.

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your music?

AC: Keep writing and playing, and hopefully take it as far as I can! In many ways I feel like I’m just starting, so some near-term goals are to do more touring and have opportunities to support bigger bands, and learn and grow from that.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

AC: It means the world to me—being able to play an instrument, write songs, and then share those with others is pretty much the coolest thing I could ever ask for.

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your music?

AC: I want it to sound like we all get in a time machine to go make a record in the 60’s, and some cosmic warp grabs some tires from the 80’s and throws them on our time machine, and then what we make is kind of an echo’y, jangly, fun mix-up of this space spiral we’ve gone through.

CHECK OUT MORE ON: ANDY COOK

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