Sitting there, Hidden Grounds. What a place to meet a musician. Fits the aesthetic, so to speak, with the special brews and overpriced food. Dark wood and minimalist seating.
He was late, but with the combination of creativity and friendship I guess excuses this. Expected, even. I don’t know if I would be more offended if I found him waiting for me with cold coffee. I stop looking at the door each time it swings open.
“Hey, sorry I’m a bit late,” he chuckles and neither one of us glances at the clock. He gets a coffee and we talk. I’m glad we’re friends already or my anxiety would have gotten the better of me. Cooper is pretty unknown and honestly, sounds like he wants to stay that way. We met at a basement show and really hit it off. He was in one of my classes last semester so we were able to become friends.
More people order their coffee and walk out. An older man sits and eagts a bagel next to us.
“It’s rough. Can be, I guess. When you start up. Friends really do it, connections and all that. You make a band with your friends and it’s just hanging out. I’ve been in so many unnamed bands and even more that have a name but lasted a day. Someone gets tired. Who has anything else to do? It’s mostly in a friend’s basement – or a friend of a friend’s anyway – some ‘a guy who knows a guy’ bullshit,” his hands form and follow his words. Takes a sip of coffee. I finished mine a bit ago.
“I guess I really still don’t know how to play,” he laughs, “but who admits they think they’re good? That’s not very humble if they do. I guess I started when I was seven and have just gone from there. Grew up alone and moved a lot, a lot of time with nothing to do. Needed something light to carry easy. I guess I’m just happy I was handed a guitar and not something else. Does that make me passionate?” Another chuckle.
“I really don’t focus much on school, which, honestly is pretty bad. I used to pay for it, now I’m taking time off. Some people do things with that time – I guess I’m sitting around hanging out and making music. Working on my own things – right now mostly covers are what I actually play. I don’t have a band, like, a band. More like a circle of friends who play together and sometimes not. Sometimes we like to call ourselves things, but let’s be real, we’re all just like this pit of sound. Moving from band to supposed band, were just squirming in it and making music. Maybe a few of us will make it,” he’s looking off now, laughing more, “but what’s making it? Existing – that’s what I’m doing now – I’m making it if you look at it that way. But getting famous, I guess that’s a better way to put it, yeah, who even wants that to happen? For what? I’m just here playing guitar. It’s all been done before but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy myself. I’m making music to keep swimming, because it’s something – better than nothing.”
“It sounds like you don’t enjoy it,” I say.
“Oh, no,” his eyes widen, “I enjoy it more than almost anything. I just don’t enjoy much,” so much laughter. “I guess that’s pessimistic.”
“I mean, I have no illusions. I’m making music because I want to, because it doesn’t matter. Hey, maybe one day it will. But today? Not a fucking shot. I’m not sitting here trying to become something that isn’t going to happen. We play in dirty basements and its a great fucking time – but it’s about the time not the money. Not the quality of the chord progressions but the ‘hey man, this basement is dank!’ – spoken ironically, of course.”
“Experience over sound?”
“Experience over everything else.”
This is an example clip off YouTube to show how basement shows can be – This isn’t Rutgers nor Cooper – sorry folks 😦