TMF meets Agent Cooper
After a break of seven years, Atlanta’s “Southern progressive” supergroup Agent Cooper are back together with new EP From The Ashes. We caught up with bassist and founding member Sean Delson as the band prepared to support the legendary Tony MacAlpine for a couple of dates on these shores before venturing across Europe.
Why has it taken you so long to return? What prompted the reunion?
For the last eight or nine years I’ve been touring with Fozzy and Stuck Mojo with Rich Ward, but before all that there was Agent Cooper, going as far back as 1986. The band’s got a long history and it was just time to get back. We all got together around New Year’s Eve and we said “let’s make 2012 our year”. Everyone just stopped what they were doing, I had to step down from Fozzy and Mojo, let someone else get in there.
It’s so easy to get tied up with touring and recording, but we decided it was our time, our year. And ever since we made that decision it has just fallen into place so fast, it’s incredible. I mean, New Year’s Eve was a few months ago, and in that time we finished an EP, got signed to Universal and got this tour with Tony McAlpine – things are just flying into place. So that’s how I know we all made the right decision, it’s all coming together.
You’ve all been playing in many groups over the years, so inevitably have been labelled with this “supergroup” tag. Do you like it, or is it a bit of a millstone?
It’s happened. I don’t think anyone would be offended to be called a supergroup, but I know what you’re saying. At the heart of all these other bands, there was still Agent Cooper before all that, we were a band a long time ago. Agent Cooper was doing a showcase in Atlanta about ten years ago and Rich [Ward] was there; he came up to me and asked if I would help him with his solo record. That’s how it started, I did that record, then Fozzy needed us, and Stuck Mojo started. Just fast forward eight or nine years and here we sit.
But we always kept in touch. Agent Cooper never got turned off. We’d get together and play a little something here and there, we’d do things like go fishing. We’d talk about it, we’d always planned it, but we just need to do it. We’ve got music, we’ve got enough for three records. We’ve got material written that goes way back, so it’s not a problem of that. We’ve just got to get together. But careful what you wish for, ‘cos here we are, a long tour with Tony McAlpine, it’s just awesome!
With all this new material sitting around, can we expect a full album anytime soon?
That is the plan. We’ve got to get through this month and around April 1st we’re going to have that meeting. I’d like to go ahead and shoot for a full record. The EP was just put together quickly to get up and running, start the process going, and then follow up with the big deal. We’re going to have that big meeting and figure what’s next. Our booking agent Adam, a lot of that’s going to be up to him ‘cos if he sees another tour or something good, then we trust him. If we can get right on it, we should, but maybe we’ll do another tour and them get on it, we’re just not sure yet.
Are you looking at doing any of the festivals this year?
As of now, no. There’s rumblings, rumours, but not at the moment. It is a bit of a long shot, we’re just hitting the ground running here, it maybe a little early for this year, I don’t know. I’d like to do some, anything. But maybe we should just focus on the record… You know when you’re doing something the right way, everything just lines up in place. I’m not forcing anything, I’m just going to let it happen, and that seems to be the best course for us right now. But I’d love to do the festivals, with a new record, maybe that’s possible but it would take some work.
Are the six tracks on the EP new tracks then, or some of that older material?
They’re a combination thereof - some of them drew from older songs, we revamped them and added some stuff. Some of them are completely brand new that we wrote in the rehearsal room and studio from scratch. The new record will probably be the same, we’ll see what works from the old days, maybe modernise it. Usually when you do something like that, everybody brings so much to the table musically that one random idea can spin off into an entire song. That’s what happened with two tracks off the EP, ‘Misunderstood’ and ‘Power’. Those two songs came out of thin air pretty much, someone came in with this riff and then *kerpow*, song’s written!
How’s the gap between the last album and From The Ashes affected the Agent Cooper sound?
The one way we approached it is that technology has changed so much and everyone’s production skills have improved so much from doing other projects. Eric Frampton, our keyboard player, he’s the producer in the band and his skills have gotten better. So that means our sound has gotten better. But before we started recording we really wanted to make sure we focused on our sound, and we wanted to come up with something, I coined this phrase “old school modern” – drawing from the old school heavy proggers like Rush, Genesis, Kansas, Dixie Dregs, Jethro Tull… all those big, anthem-y old school prog bands, and Queen with the vocals and lots of harmonies. That’s old school, but bring it up into this year, old school modern. And I think we’ve come pretty close, I think From The Ashes was a good example of that. We know now that we’re just going to keep on doing it as we have, I think it turned out great.
From The Ashes is out 5th March on Binary Records/Universal.