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Skating with Jeff Cooper

the interviews, part three

In keeping with a theme determined long ago. We decided to post a series of interviews of each member of the band. The following is the third installment where Gabe sat down with Jeff Cooper, the bassist for the Helicopter:

Actually the notes for this interview have been sitting by my computer for well nigh 3 weeks. I had a hard time coming to grips with the interview itself and couldn't really find the right angle for the "story." Cooper is, perhaps, the nicest fellow I've had the pleasure of meeting here in Norman. A kind, compassionate soul who prefers to remain in the background offering his quiet support.

But then there is that bizarre, scary side. The one that fantasizes a little too much about Melissa Joan Hart & L'il Kim wrestling in tapioca. Thankfully, that night he was on his best behavior even though he let out the biggest secret behind the helicopter's success.

GW: Hey, Coop. How are you?
  JC: Not bad. Kind of tired though. I've been hearing rumors that Sabrina is getting traded to the WB. I'm worried.
GW: That can't be good. Is it true that you & Billy didn't talk after your first band Star 66 broke up?
  JC: We "talked" plenty... just not to each other, although that would have been more interesting. I've always been sympathetic to the plight of the mute. You know, Helen Keller, Tommy? But as for Billy & me, we just drifted apart for a time.
GW: What got you back together?
  JC: I met Junior (Jeff Richardson). My first impression was that he is really short. I played in this weird band he was in, and I wasn't particularly impressed with the songs. Basically, they were a bunch of inside jokes. He could play well though. Anyway, the band never had a gig. In fact, we practiced, I think, once, and then we gave up. Well, Junior really got the chicken pox 3 days later, and that really put a stop to things.
GW: What about the story floating around town where you met at an S & M party?
  JC: We did meet again a little while later, but it wasn't anything like that. It was a birthday party for our friend Rachel. A little odd...there was this twisted spin-the-bottle where a few of the guys wanted to get on a few of the other guys. At one point, Jeff & I were talking away from the party, and he told me about some 4-tracks he had just finished. We wound up listening to them, & I thought they were cool. Eventually, we got together and started playing...just the two of us.
GW: How did Billy & Chris join in?
  JC: Billy had a tape of 4-track that we liked. I knew Chris played drums, and it all made sense. The four of us struggled to get used to each other for a while, but then it sort of clicked. And that's that.
GW: So you essentially formed the band?
  JC: Pretty much. I also write all the best songs too.
GW: But I thought Billy & Jeff wrote most of the songs?
  JC: They give me "hush money." Which is just fine by me.. I need it for France, and besides I don't think I want to be the spotlight. I've seen how that sort of attention can ruin a person. You know, big ego, fancy cars, shallow women. On second thought... no, I'm happy just way things are.
GW: Which people?
  JC: Oh, Kurt Cobain, Greg Kihn. The usual.
GW: What about France? You're going there in May for a couple weeks, aren't you?
  JC: Yeah, I'm really excited. I'm going to study Gothic cathedrals for my Master's thesis while I'm there, and, of course, hang out on the Left Bank acting all bohemian. I can't wait.
GW: How is that going to effect the band?
  JC: Well, Chris is temporarily living in Stillwater for a job of his, so we can only practice once or twice a week anyway. And I'm only going to be gone for a couple of weeks. Not much will really change, but I hope to bone up on the cabaret scene there.
GW: Cabaret? Like the musical?
  JC: Sort of... and Edith Piaf. I love the stuff. I figure when I get back, I'll write a couple of cabaret numbers for the band. That way, I can start incorporating the accordion with our sound. It's my instrument of choice these days.
GW: What?
  JC: Well, the accordion has been a recent addition to my musical repertoire, if you will, but I have been playing the concertina for years. When I was much younger, I can remember roller-skating down the street in my Marcel Marceau striped shirt playing little sea shanties on my concertina. I don't think I've ever felt happier, but....
GW: But what?
  JC: Some kids from the next block over used to beat me up for it. One kid, in particular, Scott Taylor. Man, don't get me started. Anyway, from then on, it was always sort of a guilty pleasure, but with the band... I think I can finally play the music I really want.
GW: I see.... You & Jeff live together. Is he a good roommate?
 JC: He's not bad. He spends a lot of time picking out Who & Clash songs and eating veggie burgers. He works quite a bit at night, so I don't see him all that much. But when he is home, he listens to a lot of 70's soul. I think his favorite song is '"Ooh Child" by the 5 Stairsteps.
GW: Really?
 JC: Oh yeah, it's either British Invasion or old Soul at our house, but he goes through phases.
GW: Aside from Cabaret, what have you been listening to lately?
 JC: Right now, a lot of British Invasion and some newer stuff like Built to Spill and R. Kelly.
GW: R. Kelly?!
 JC: Hey, I'm a sensitive guy. I like the slow jams.

At this point, he goes over to the stereo and plays the newest Destiny's Child disc. He sits back down, closes his eyes and starts to get his groove on. I assume the interview is now over. So we exchange pleasantries as I take my leave. A pleasant fellow all in all, and a musical wunderkind to boot.


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