Monday, October 12, 2020

Interview with Jamie Cooper and Luke Cooper of Lookin Up by Devin Joseph Meaney

Interview with Jamie Cooper and Luke Cooper of Lookin Up

Cheers Jamie and Luke. Please take a few moments to describe yourselves, your music, and your band!
Thanks for hitting us up mate. We started as a straight Hardcore Punk band back in 2014 and up until 2018 we only ever played shows in the NZ hardcore scene. After a tour with Turnstile at the start of 2018, we felt that we had achieved everything we set out to achieve in New Zealand, so our singer and drummer decided they wanted to do other things with their lives. Jamie (Bass) and I (Guitar) wanted to continue on as Lookin Up but because we had a different vocal style, we couldn't really pull off the straight hardcore sound anymore. This led to more fruity ways of writing riffs and using effects that we couldn't do before, so our sound started to morph into what it has become now. Instead of just drawing from some of our favourite hardcore bands like TUI and Down To Nothing we started to tap into inspiration from Kings Of Leon and Muse to Biffy Clyro and Rage. We didn't realise how restricted we felt by writing purely for the Hardcore Punk scene, so once we started getting more creative with our songwriting, we realised we could be more creative in every aspect of the band. We then decided to record our second album in Norway, having never left the country before, and then subsequently take on self-booking a 30+ show tour of Europe as our first ever shows outside NZ. I think that tells you a lot about what we are like as a band and as people ha-ha.

What is it like in your neck of the woods as a punk band? I mean... is it a huge scene? Or a smaller gathering?
Being a Hardcore/Punk band in New Zealand is extremely difficult. When we first started going to shows in 2008 the local scene still managed to pull crowds of 200+ kids to every show and most of the bands playing would have all their costs covered and made a bit of cash from merch. When we first started playing in bands around 2012 we noticed a huge change in turnouts and the number of bands around and it’s got worse each year since then. Before COVID 19 lockdowns most local shows would pull about 20 payers at the door and the biggest bands in the scene would be stoked with 100 people through the door. Since the lockdowns have ended there has been a massive resurgence in turnouts to pretty much all genres of shows so it will be interesting to see what happens in the next year. 

How many releases have you guys put out so far?
We put our first LP 'Reborn' out in 2014 and toured that for four years then at the end of 2018 we released our second LP 'Gold' with the new lineup and we are just about to release our new single 'Break' later this month. (October 2020)

What are some huge inspirations for your music that you think your fans should be able to hear in your sound? Similar question... but what inspirations are there behind your music that you think your fan basis might miss?
For 'Reborn' our influences are all pretty obvious I think, we are huge fans of Terror, Trapped Under Ice and Down To Nothing but for 'Gold' and 'Break' we took those core influences and then sprinkled a bit of Muse and Biffy Clyro in there. I think people will hear some Rage Against The Machine and Nirvana influences but to be honest, those bands were a bit before our time and we don't really listen to them. All of our favourite bands are heavily influenced by them though so I'm not surprised when we get those comments. I think people would be surprised that we are heavily inspired by Kings Of Leon as well so if you mix in our hardcore roots and add a bit of Muse, Biffy and Kings of Leon then you get something like 'Gold' and 'Break' ha-ha.

How did you guys end up coming up with the name for your band?
Our original singer came up with the name but at the time NZ hardcore was extremely dark and we felt like it was time to bring in a bit of PMA.

When you found yourselves becoming experimental with your sound... did you get any backlash when you guys pushed away from the classical hardcore vibes?
Of course ha-ha, to be fair though, we got known in the local scene for a particular type of energy and everybody knew exactly what to expect when we played a show. After we returned with pretty much a brand new band, we had a period of transition between fans of the old stuff and fans of the new stuff. 

As an Atlantic Canadian (Cape Breton) the underground scene here is also on the smaller side. But sometimes some of those ''small'' shows can be the ones with the highest energy. Did you guys have any of these shows?
Yeah man, some of the greatest experiences in our whole lives have been at small hardcore shows. There are a couple that stick out... we played a show in Hamilton, NZ at about 8pm one night then drove an hour and a half up to Auckland to play another set at around 1am and it was probably the best reaction our band had ever gotten up until that point. Another favourite was when we played a headline show in Hamilton to about 30 people but for the last few songs of our set, the entire crowd came on stage and sung whatever lyrics they felt like into the different mics on stage. We just looped a riff for 6 mins and there were about three different songs being played at the same time and it was absolutely mental. Once we started touring Europe and Asia, it seems like every show we played had something ridiculous happen.

Covid-19 is a terrible thing. But when it comes to all things creative... do you find yourselves MORE or LESS productive?
We actually did really well during the COVID lockdowns. We didn't have any touring plans for the start of 2020 and we were in the process of writing a new album so we doubled down on that. We also had time to think about what we wanted to do going forward as a band and how to avoid getting ruined when something like this happened again. So we ended up building a commercial studio, we started a record label and learnt a lot about music marketing, which has had a massive impact on our strategies going forward.

Tell me one thing each that you guys absolutely despise within the music industry!
To be honest, there isn't really anything that we despise about the industry in general. Everybody that wants to pursue music as a career is dealing with some sort of emotional/ psychological trauma or at the very least, a glitch in our brains that has convinced us that this is a reasonable thing to want to do with our lives. So unfortunately, that can lead to artists expecting to receive more balance and fulfilment from the industry than is possible from any job. Also, being out on tour is so alien to what most people do with their day to day lives that when you add all of these factors together without being aware that it's the sole responsibility of each artist to look after their own mental and physical health, then the music industry on the whole starts to look pretty isolating and bleak. There are 100% some snakes in the grass but we think that if you have realistic expectations and think about your art critically, rather than emotionally, then the music industry is an incredible place to work.

If a blind gorilla and a three legged grizzly bear both got high on liquid adrenaline and got to the point where neither were seeing eye to eye... who do you think would win a physical bout of slap-boxing? And why?
The three legged Grizzly all day dawg. You can't hit what you can't see!

Final comments? *Feel free to drop all links and promo here*
Thanks again for the chat man. Hit up to stay in the loop. We have some absolute bangers coming out in the next few months.

Cheers! Keep at it, my friends!

-Devin Joseph Meaney

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