At a time when music (and life for that matter) seemed confusing to me, a dear friend of mine gave me a record and told me to just listen to it. No questions asked. The record was ‘The Runners Four’ and it was by a band called Deerhoof. As my friend kept insisting I should get into it, the album got to me. And boy did it grow. Till this day, ‘The Runners Four’ remains one of a few albums that helped define my perception of music and make some sense of it all.
One of those four runners’ name is Chris Cohen. He broke with Deerhoof shortly after ‘The Runners Four’ and went on to continue his amazing band The Curtains and form another amazing band called Cryptacize plus doing numerous collaborations with a bunch of great artists.
His very first solo album ‘Overgrown Path’ is scheduled for release through Captured Tracks on september 25th. I asked him if he’d like to answer a few questions about the record, he told me he’d love to. Here’s what he said.
You have quite a history of projects and collaborations, each varying from the last.
What can be expected from ‘Overgrown Path’?
thank you. hmm – longer songs, less guitar, more pianos/keyboards… better to expect nothing.
Can you describe ‘Overgrown Path’ with anything besides music reference – a particular flavour, mood, memory etc.?
black & white
Would you say that ‘Overgrown Path’ is a deliberate break from collaboration?
i guess so but one song (“Optimist High” ) is co-written with Nedelle Torrisi. i go back and forth, working with others and then not. its nice to do that, one always makes the other better.
My first Chris Cohen experience was with the discovering of ‘The Runners Four’, the 2005 Deerhoof album. Since came The Curtains and Cryptacize.
How would you describe your development as a musician throughout the years?
its hard to describe, i try not to analyze my own musical development too much. i would say i’m not ‘moving forward’ – just always the same..
I read in an old interview that you moved to San Francisco because of the music scene, and that you since moved to L.A.
Are you still living in L.A., and was the move related to the music scene again?
i did move to San Francisco because of music – I was living in a smaller town nearby, where I went to college, and after that was done I wanted to meet new people.
some of my favorite music in the world was happening there or had happened there – Caroliner Rainbow, Deerhoof, The Residents, the Grateful Dead…
i went back and forth a few times between there and Los Angeles which is where i grew up.
actually now I live in the eastern US state of Vermont but i moved here because of my girlfriend’s job, and because i thought i could use the change. here there is a music community but its very small and i’d say i’m not really involved, other than jamming with my co-workers from the farm where I work.. in my town people are far too practical to make the kind of music i want to make, as far as i know… Vermont is home to a big farming scene though and there’s a lot going on as far as plants and wildlife and lots of people here are interesting too.
This is a question I was asked recently. Do you have a favorite piece of equipment?
no not really – i love all my instruments, but probably only because they’re mine. i’ve spent lots of time getting to know them.
ideally i think that all instruments have their strengths but it takes time.
If you had a time machine and you could go back and start a band before it was actually started, which band would it be?
whoa i dont know.. but then if you started this band, it wouldn’t be the same band that you previously knew about. unless it was a band you were going to be in.. but then later on you yourself would join the band, as you were supposed to and there’d be two of you. i guess i would want to do that, i’d join “Chris Cohen.”
What are your plans for the future?
i’ve made plans til the end of the year which is a lot more than i’ve had in years- to get a band together and play some shows.. then hopefully come to Scandinavia in Dec.
i want to say thanks again to you Tobias for talking with me – I wish you the best!
“Caller no.99” and “Optimist High” are the first two peeks at what’s in store.
What we have here is unmistakably Chris Cohen, relying heavily on his great songwriting skills and sense of melody, adding a pinch of psychedelia and a pinch of understated Damon Albarnesque pop sensibility.
I’m counting the days!