An EP release from Scott Cook brings us a beautifully woven rock record that takes on a singer-songwriter feel but an alternative rock undertone and all with quite a pop sensibility complete with addictive hooks both musically and vocally.
The Topics EP is lush with textured layers of guitars that feel alive and breathing and the singing swims around you in sweet melody and sort of whisks you away as the music keeps to a cinematic tone with bending guitars and rock drums.
This is a powerful record from start to finish. It feels like it all came from a real place and Cook just let it all flow out of him.
The songs tell stories from different perspectives, and they get pretty damn detailed as he paints vivid pictures in your head using his works while the music reaches a compelling presence.
It seems like Cook was a guitar player at fist and grew into a songwriter and singer because the guitar work on this EP is outstanding to say the least.
The artist has a way of performing with a passion and bringing changes you may not expect and that makes for a damn good record.
You can hear the classic rock influence shine through and the whole thing is warm and surprising as instrumentation and additional vocals come in and out of the EP and touch on Americana even.
This was a release with little boundaries and that's part of why it's so damn good.
With such a great release, we wanted to have a chat with Scott Cook to find out where this all came from and where it may be headed.
Here's what happened.
Buzzslayers: Okay so let's start things off with Topics. This EP shows some great pop and classic rock styles and come through quite catchy but personal. Where did this record come from?
- I’ve been playing in bands my whole life. The project that I was leading before this one is called Colonel Sun, and is a heavy, leaning on hardcore type of band. That was rolling along nicely until the pandemic hit. Even though Colonel Sun was a project in which I wrote everything and just sent it to the guys, I’ve always thrived on the band vibe, so I didn’t want to pursue anything with that band without the other guys being involved. But there was just too much going on for everyone when things shut down for me to expect them to think about the band. So, Colonel Sun got put on pause. I needed to keep writing, though, since it’s what I’ve always loved to do. So, I started something new, but I wanted it to sound different from anything I’ve ever done before. I asked myself, “if I were to write music that is less heavy (or a different kind of heavy), who would I want to write like?” The answer was Roger Waters and David Bowie. For the EP, I wrote and performed everything (with a few small exceptions). I had to do everything at home, so I used it as an opportunity to practice recording and mixing. I didn’t really have any specific plans when I started it. I just wanted to write, play and record.
Buzzslayers: I'm certainly hearing some different styles mixed in on this one. Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
- My musical taste and experience are quite vast. As mentioned, I’ve been playing in rock bands forever. But I’ve also spent time studying jazz guitar and have played hundreds of jazz gigs. I have a PhD in music theory and have spent a lot of time studying classical styles. So, it’s tough for me to pinpoint just a small number of influences. It depends on my mood, what I’m doing, what I’m working on. The important thing for me is that I’m always trying to listen. When I listen to music, regardless of the style, I’m storing information for possible ideas. That means that, when I write, I’m always dabbling in a bit of everything.
Buzzslayers: So how did all of this really start for you?
- It started with my babysitter giving me the first Kiss record when I was about 6 years old. I haven’t looked back since… haha (although, I can’t claim to be too interested in Kiss anymore).
Buzzslayers: Do you do any live performances?
- I’d love to!! But it’s tough right now. Since recording and releasing “Topics,” I’ve been lucky enough to put a new band together with some great people, so the band vibe that I love is there. We managed to play one show while some of the public restrictions were loosening. Once things start to stabilize again, I’ll be on the lookout for playing opportunities.
Buzzslayers: What kind of things inspire you to write?
- When writing music, I’m inspired by other music. Like I said, if I’m listening, I’m writing. When writing lyrics, I’m mostly inspired by day-to-day things. I’m 47 now, with a wife, a son, and a dog. I’ve got a job and some friends. I've got bills and responsibilities. It’s hard to not think about these things regularly, and so they’re the things that inspire the stories that I write about in my lyrics. I say “stories,” though, because my lyrics are not always my reality. I have a great relationship with my wife, for instance, but it can be more fun to write about a bad relationship. Or even though I do like to have a few drinks, I might decide to turn myself into an alcoholic in my lyrics for the sake of storytelling.
Buzzslayers: Can we expect any music videos coming from you this year?
- I’ve released three videos for “Topics,” which can be found on my YouTube channel. I won’t do any more for that EP. I’m sure that I’ll be putting some stuff out as I start to release new material, though.
Buzzslayers: What's next for you as an artist? Is there anything new in the works even now?
- Definitely. I haven’t stopped writing since releasing “Topics,” and am demoing new music regularly. I’ve already got enough for a new EP. I’m excited about the new music, too, since I have a band now. Given the conditions, I’m still writing everything, but I’m thinking about the band as I do, and am more easily able to imagine the songs being played live. As a result, the songs that I’ve been writing are less chill. They still sound like me, but I’m pushing it a little more.
Buzzslayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
- My regular job is teaching music at a college here in Montreal. I also run a type of band camp for amateur adult musicians. So, I’m rarely not working on music. I’ve been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as much as I can for about 12 years, so I'm desperately waiting for Covid restrictions to loosen up so I can get back to regular training. Apart from that, I’ve got my family who I want to spend as much time with as I can.
Buzzslayers: This EP feels like a big undertaking. What kind of advice would you have for other up and coming bands out there?
- I don’t know if I’m able to give meaningful advice to anyone. I suppose the only thing that I can say is that I hope they love what they’re doing. I know a some people who are fortunate enough to have made music, and being in a band, a career. For me, it’s not my career, but I’ll never stop doing what I’m doing and that’s simply because I really love it.
Buzzslayers: Okay so you wake up in the middle of the night starving. What's your go-to midnight snack? (a question of character here)
- I try to not eat too much junk (boring, I know), and will always choose salad first. But not at midnight, I suppose. I have more of a salty tooth, so might have to say chips. French fries are my favorite, but I wouldn’t be making any at midnight.
Buzzslayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
- Just keep listening. There’s an infinite amount of music out there, and a ton of it is good (not all of it, but most of it). And I’m thankful to those who are willing to give new music a try, and who are willing to support independent artists by listening, sharing, “liking,” “following,” attending live shows, etc. We need all the support we can get!!