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Interview By:

Profound Torture

Smokescreen is a band from my home town in Peterborough, UK!
They are a 5 piece metal band.
I approached the bands bassist David "bass" cooper for an interview.

Q:What's the name of your band? What's the origin of that name? Have you changed the band's name before?

The bands name is Smokescreen, The original Bass player George Whyles came up with the name Smokescreen 8 years ago in a maths lesson. There are rumours that he came up with it whilst listening to Metallica's And Justice For All album. We have had four major line up changes but we have stuck with the name. If you change the name you run the risk of losing your fan base and the time that you put in building up the bands reputation.

Q:Please list the name, age and respective instrument of each band member.

I'll start with the original two, Tom and Sam Loose. Tom and Sam started the band in 2001 during there last year at school. Tom is 22 and plays lead/rhythm guitarist and backing vocals. He has also had success in his solo acoustic project. Tom is also a guitar teacher. Sam Loose is Toms brother. He is 21 years old. He is the lead singer and is producing the new Album which we are recording which has the working title "The Human Condition" My name is David "Bass" Cooper. I joined after the departure of George Whyles in 2003 I am 24 years old and play the bass guitar. We have two new members who joined in the Summer. Mat Lloyd also plays lead/rhythm guitar. Mat is 20 years old and likes to post videos of himself playing lead on youtube. We have been playing with one guitarist since 2006 so it was very refreshing and rewarding when Mat joined. Peter Marks is 21 and is our new Drummer replaced Oli Walkers this summer. Peter is a free thinking vegan. He has done a lot of session work for bands such as Lime Shark.

Q:What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?

We have gone through many changes since the start of the band, Before I joined I used to watch them in the local venues. They used to play mainly covers such as Metallica, Iron Maiden, Black Label Society, Pantera, Hendrix, Raging Speedhorn and a few of there own. They only had a few of there own songs at the time. They had a Maiden mixed with Pantera vocals kind of feel After a few years we listened to other bands such as Lamb Of God, Machine Head, Devil Driver, Prong and Dry Kill Logic. We became a lot heavier and played a lot more aggressive music. Now we have a new line up we've adopted more of heavy southern rock sound. I guess our newer influences are Down, Crowbar, BLS Black Sabbath and Pantera. The newest song "The Human Condition" has such a great guitar groove. Mat and myself are also into Glam Metal, we have said one day we will have to make a side project for a bit of fun.

Q:How long have you all known each other? How did you meet?

My sister was dating the then second guitarist Matt Kidd. He invited me to a battle of the bands which Smokescreen won. This is where I met the Loose brothers. I was so impressed that I wanted to join them. I had other commitments in a band called Bonesaw so I couldn't join at that point in time. Smokescreen were not happy with the bass player George Whyles They parted ways after recoding the first ep . After George left Tom asked me to join the band. The Bonesaw guys were about 20 years older than myself. I wanted to be in a younger band, I knew all the members and liked the music so I decided joining Smokescreen was the right ting to do. We have been friends with Mat Lloyd and Peter for many years. We supported there bands and gone to festivals/gigs together for years so it only seemed natural to ask them to join. My fondest memry of Mat before he joined Smokescreen was when we were drinking in a pub in Camden before setting off to an AC/DC gig. We looked over and Julian Barratt from the Mighty Boosh was drinking at the table next to us,. They were good times.

Q:Do you have a record label? Are you a member of any music organizations?

We were signed to a couple of label's but they weren't doing much for us so we left after the contracts expired. We have had thoughts about creating our own record label. The first three Ep's we have made, funded and sold our self so we are tempted to just do everything ourselves. Enter Shikari from the UK have done everything there self which is inspiring for bands like us. We have our own studio called N/A studios which we are recording our new album at, Sam is doing the mixing so that saves us time and money. After the new album comes out were going to have to gig and promote non stop. All the hard work will be rewarding.

Q:What can you tell me about your instruments? (i.e, Are you subject to brand loyalty or will you play with whatever's available? What made you choose the instruments you have now? Was it cost or was it a style/model/brand/color preference?

We have about 40 guitars between us which are various brands. We seem to spend all our money on collecting guitars. I tend to use Ampeg bass amps and Warwick basses live. I used to use just Dean basses but the double buck picks ups just sound so amazing in my Warwick that I stopped using Dean all together. I also use a Sansamp preamp to boost my sound. Tom and Mat use Marshal amps wit a combination of Ibanez, Jackson and various other guitars. Peter uses a Pearl kit but seems to have a new tom or cymbal every week. We all seem to be chopping and changing instruments, I guess were just trying to find the perfect sound.

Q:Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?

Our least favourite venue was the Fiddlers Elbow in Peterborough which luckily has closed down. It was just very small and very badly promoted. We had a parking ticket at that gig which was more than we got paid. There's a lesson there though. Make sure you know where to park before you get to the gig. Our favourite places to play are Nottingham Rock City, The Purple turtle in Camden, The Underworld in Camden and anywhere in Stamford and Peterborough because we seem to get a good response there. We want to hit Europe and the States soon and do a bigger tour of the UK.

Q:Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list?

We seem to play mostly songs off the last EP and a few songs which are on the up coming Album. Driven which was on the first EP is always a fan favourite. It has a driving bass line which Tom wrote before I joined. Hatred Comes and Brake the given also seem to be fan favourite. We sometimes do the odd cover if we are given a long enough set. We have been know to play Hallowed Be Thy Name by Iron Maiden or Black Label Societies Demise of Sanity.

Q:Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs? Do you think these topics will change over time?

We all put input into the songs, Sam's lyrics are mostly about situations that have happened to him. If you listen to Bullets Rusted By Tears carefully you work out what the songs about. The first three ep's had very negative songs about life. Sam always seems to have an idea of a theme he wants to use. The new album seems to have a more happier and positive feel. I've just written a song called My Friend Jack which is about the time when my uncle died and my parents had split up, I was in a mess and drinking a bottle of Jack Daniel's everyday. I tend to drink in moderation now.

Q:Could you briefly describe the music-making process?

Tom and Mat seems to put the most ideas in and then the rest of the band will slice things up add riffs and other new ideas into the songs. We seem to be using grove and chugging riffs these days. Sam does the bulk of the lyrics but the rest of us add some ideas in as well.

Q:What are your rehearsals generally like? Do you have a set time each week in which you practice or are rehearsals more spontaneous?

What we have started doing with the new line up is to jam the riffs we have until we come up with a structure for the songs, we always mic everything up in case we find that special riff. We will listen back to what we have played and if we like something we cut that section out and save it. Once we have a song we record a live rough mix of the song so that we can listen back and change it if we want to. Then we normally record the song. We sometimes get two or three songs out of a six hour session. Sam will then add lyrics after the songs are music it written.

Q:What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?

There have been various challenges along the way. Our biggest challenge has been trying to get a fan base and to play bigger venues. It's taken a lot of hard work to get where we are now. We started off playing in tiny pubs and worked our way up to playing bigger venues with bigger bands. We have played with bands such as Prong, Breed 77, Stuck Mojo, Mendeed, Gama Bomb, Speed Theory, Panic Cell, Raging Speedhorn, Evil Scarecrow and The More I See along the way. This helped to build up our fan base and reputation, eventually we started playing our own headlining shows. We learnt a lot with playing with these type of bands and knew that that's what we wanted to do for the rest of our lives.

Q:What's your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune?

I guess we just want to get in the situation where we can quit our jobs and do the band full time. I just finished working 12 nights of 12 hour shifts. I love playing music and its what I want to do for the rest of my life. I get such a buzz out of playing gigs and listening back to something that I have recorded. I would love to do a world tour. I just look at Iron Maiden's tour dates and dream.

Q:What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?

My advice for people starting in bands is to create a demo first, and then send it everywhere you can, you cant get a gig without a demo, also promote your band like a mother fucker. Its disappointing when no ones turns up to gigs. I used to burn hundreds of our demos and handed them out in shopping malls of the city's we were playing in weeks before the gigs. That way everyone knows who you are and know the songs. People enjoy live bands more if they know the words.

Q:How can fans-to-be gain access to your music? Do you have a website with sample songs or a demo CD?

We have Myspace. Its www.myspace.com/smokescreenuk. We also have an official website which is www.smokescreenweb.co.uk . We also have a Face book to. You might also see me in your local city handing out demo cd's. Tom's solo project can be found at http://www.myspace.com/greatsoutherntomkill

Q:Is there anyone you'd like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support?

I would like thank Tom and Sam's mum Janice, she lent us the money to pay for the first 3 ep's. All our family's, Ray Fenwick (ex Ian Gillan band) Gizz Butt (ex Prodigy and The More I See), Gav King (The More I See) all the bands we have played with, we have learnt a lot from them and had fun too. The Smokescreen road crew. The dangerous dolls website and any one who's ever been to a Smokescreen gig or downloaded/bought our music.

Q:Any last words?

I guess I'd like to say thank the dangerous dolls website again and Nicola for doing this interview. Tom normally does all the interviews and radio so I thought I'll give this one a go. I like the look of the dangerous dolls website. I'm not yet a member but I am considering joining to make some new friends.