Ben Gautrey & Tom Bellamy - The Cooper Temple Clause

March 19, 2004

I read something funny about how you guys got together. Something about the Reading lager fascists thinking you were weirdos. So who are the Reading lager fascists?

Ben: The Reading lager fascists. That is basically the people who go out on a Friday and Saturday night in Reading with the sole intention of trying to cull as many girls as they can and they all look exactly the same and they all have the same mentality. They can't meet a girl and they want to start a fight. If you look different they want to start a fight with you. People who aren't really open to other people. There's a lot of them around in Reading.

So how did the band form?

Ben: We went to the same school and Tom and me started playing guitar together when we were about 12 or 13. We were inspired by a whole explosion of American bands that came over. Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam. Then that whole Brit pop phenomenon after that with Oasis, Barry Roy, and Headmaster Attack. All through our teens there were so many bands we were getting into and finding out about. Old bands as well like Pink Floyd or Queen or Led Zeppelin or Hendrix. Then basically Kieran and Fisher were in our year as well when we were about 15 or 16. They started playing with us and then when we were about 17 or 18 Jon and Didz came in and we had a perfect band. We went to the same school together and we had a healthy love of music. When you're 15 there's not much you can do in Reading. There's not much to do in Reading when you're 18 at the best of times. There wasn't much to do so we started having jams together to see what would happen.

It's nice to hear that young people are listening to bands like Queen and Pink Floyd.

Tom: Didz is the big Queen fan in the band. Huge.

Ben: There are three exceptional Queen fans in our band.

Tom: I'm the lesser of the three.

Ben: I'll put Tom at number three, Jon at number two, and Didz at number one.

Tom: Had a call up with somebody the other day.

Ben: In New Jersey.

Tom: He was the queen of Queen. The unofficial fan club. That was probably the best thing about it.

Is Dan the one who wrote a religious rock opera called "Armageddon City"?

Tom: Yeah, that was quite special when we heard he had written that when he was about 15 years old. We knew he was the one. It was mind blowing.

Your first album was See This Through And Leave. Was that released in the States?

Tom: Yeah, as an import. It didn't have a commercial release.

Ben: It got a comical release.

You guys got to do a lot of touring on that one.

Ben: Yeah, we toured everywhere. This is our first tour of America but we've pretty much been everywhere else in the world. It's nice to finally go over to America and play some shows.

You guys came over here about the beginning of March. How's the tour been going so far?

Tom: It's been amazing. We've had a really good response. Coming over here was in fact a little risky. You can't expect to really play to a large audience.

So you've had a pretty good turnout to your shows.

Ben: Yeah, we've had a lot more than we thought we'd have. We thought we'd be playing to 10 men and three dogs.

Tom: Especially like Toronto and New York. That was like 500 to 600 people. There's been more people coming down to the shows. We're trying to build a foundation like we did it in England. That seemed to work over there and that's the plan that we're going to use in the U.S.

It states in the release that you guys don't really know how to play your instruments. Didn't sound that way to me.

Tom: We weren't taught. Me and Ben had a few guitar lessons when we were younger but he wasn't a very good guitar teacher and just tried to teach us for free. Or right now over and over again free lessons so we really didn't get taught. Ben taught himself. We get by.

Ben: We're not big on technicalities. You won't find any Ritchie Samboras and Steve Vais in this band. No soloists.

Your latest release is Kick Up The Fire And Let The Flames Break Loose.

Ben: It's different from the first album. It's got more melody. The first album was written over three years. That was written, recorded, and mixed in eight months so it's quite a concise record. It's just a direction we went in after the first album. The first album is a bit strange talking about it.

Tom: We wrote it in our own built studio just outside of where we live so it was nice just to have our own place that we could go to anytime. It's called Bleak House and that's what it felt like. There are no windows and no air.

That might get a little warm.

Ben: Or very cold. Warm in the summer and cold in the winter.

Your recruited your keyboardist Kieran because he had a really good keyboard and you wanted to use it.

Ben: Yeah, when he was 16 he had la creme of la creme of keyboards. It's called the Korg 01WD.

Tom: He just stood out in the crowd.

Ben: There were three options we had. There were three people. Kieran Mahon, Tom Neal, and Alex Fellows. Kieran had the best keyboard.

You have a home built studio on a pig farm.

Ben: Very true. All the pigs got massacred. It's the cows' now. Not a happy story.

No, indeed not. You guys started out touring in England and then you came over here. When you're done over here, what are your future plans?

Ben: We'll start writing our third album when we finish this tour and do some festival appearances. Then probably come back to America later this year. Maybe play some of the places that we missed out on this tour.

Your friend Didz had a near death experience.

Ben: Didz, you want to show her the scar?

Oh, that's very nice. You were out on the road with The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for a little while.

Ben: Yeah. They're going to be playing here tomorrow night.

You combine techno, indietronica, rock, jazz, and thrash. How do you combine all that?

Ben: Yeah, it just happens. We all write the songs and we all like different types of music. It manifests itself into the way we write the songs. If you hear the last track on the album, it starts off as a quiet loungy jazz and ends up as hardcore techno and a big rock middle part. I don't know if that was inspired by "Armageddon City". It's some of the musical that Fisher wrote.

He takes some of his music out of that and incorporates it into your stuff.

Ben: Yeah, we're not afraid to try anything in our band. The whole thing about why we started the band was to have an adventure and just experiment with sounds and sonics and see where we can push on with it in place of sounding like a rehash of bands 20 or 30 years ago.

What did your first album sound like?

Ben: It sounded very schizophrenic. Scuzzy. Every song sound was the intention of sounding different so it sounds odd. It sounds good. I recommend you go and find it.

Did it sound schizo because you took so long to write it?

Tom: I think that had quite a lot to do with it. It was written under such a long period of time. I think that's the main reason why it sounds schizophrenic. We constantly changed things.

This one is a lot tighter because it didn't take so long to write.

Tom: Yeah, the quality is better. We learned a lot more about albums.

So you guys will be working on your third album when you get home.

Ben: Yeah, in the mean time if we don't kill each other we'll keep touring.

Tom: We'll just start writing and see what happens.

When will we get that one?

Ben: I don't know. It's hard to say. Within the next five years.

That's a good time frame. Any other thoughts or comments?

Ben: We're particularly enjoying America because of the easiness that you can purchase Jaegermeister. You can't buy it in many places in England. We toured Austria and Queens Of The Stone Age had a Jaegermeister bus so that is our big goal.

Definitely a goal worth undertaking. All hail Jaegermeister.

The Cooper Temple Clause