Michael Cozzo has been a fixture in the local country and rockabilly scenes for several years now, first as a singer/guitarist in Liquor Store Junkies, then as a solo bluesman and now as frontman of local rockabilly act Rooster Coup DeVille.
Rooster Coup DeVille are set to release their new EP on March 25 at the Blooze Bar, and "Coz" was kind enough to send us a new song from the EP and answer a few questions about his band, the upcoming CD release show and their plans for the future. Cozzo is one of the few guys who manages to have a distinct "voice" even when he's writing an e-mail.
Check out an awesome Q&A with Cozzo and stream "Tennessee" below.
Q&A with Rooster Coup DeVille's Michael Cozzo
Up on the Sun: How did Rooster Coup DeVille get started? How long have you been playing together?
Coz: Me and Big Joe Curran (lead guitar) have been playing together now almost 4 years. First in Liquor Store Junkies, then we took a break and got things back going about a year ago, 'cuz neither of us were getting the juice we wanted from what we were doing apart. We originally got together planning to just record some of the old songs from our LSJ days and call it a day. Once we got together a couple times, I played him a couple new things I was workin' on and he played me a couple things he was workin' on and it kind of progressed from there. So we kind of settled into this new thing pretty quick. Once we started writing and working on new material it was pretty simple to figure out what was next, and we been doing it for a little under a year so far.
UP: Your previous band, Liquor Store Junkies, and your solo stuff had more of a country/blues vibe. What prompted the switch to straight-up rockabilly?
Coz: Well, when I first started Liquor Store Junkies, I was going through some pretty unfortunate, albeit cliché, "life stuff": bad marriage, crappy job, no money. So it kind of leant itself to those "feeling blue, whiskey drinkin" songs. I was also playing a lot of resonator slide guitar and acoustic strum-along stuff, but when the monsoon passed and the clouds parted my life was nothing but clear skies, so I reckon it was high time to quit being so down and write some toe tappin', bass slappin', swingin' songs about livin', lovin' and a whole lotta good times. When Joe and I got things back on track, we streamlined the band, cut the dead weight and decided to keep things simple, and when you're playing with such a talented rockabilly guitar slinger like Joe, you tend to wanna exploit that for every note its worth, but there's still plenty of down home country playin mixed into to what we write. We're both HUGE Sam Phillips fans (record producer and founder of Sun Records who launched the careers of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and countless others) & that period between '54-'59 at Sun Studios was, in our opinion, the true birth of rock and roll. Where the old country, gospel, roots blues, hillbilly and rock and roll all converged in one room. Some of Joe's big influences are Scotty Moore and all those guitar slingers from back then and some of my biggest influences were writers like Johnny Cash & Jerry Lee Lewis. So between the two of us we started writing and that's what came out! As for any solo stuff I've done in the past or in the future, to be honest its always been for shits, giggles & a few free whiskey and Cokes. I learned how to play banjo so I wrote some banjo songs. My girlfriend bought me a homemade cigar box guitar for my birthday so I wrote some old delta blues numbers. Its just to entertain myself. HaHaHa.
UP: Tell us about the new album. Where, when and with whom did you record it? Is it all originals or did you throw in some covers?
Coz: We recorded it the end of January at Electric Lotus Music with Olivier Zahm engineering. It was real important to us that we find a place that could accommodate what we were shooting for. Our friends in Voodoo Swing turned us onto Olivier because he has a fantastic live room and we were able to cut everything live as a band like they did back in the Sun Studios era. Reverend Justin Kase filled in on upright bass and Walter Spano handled the drums for us. We recorded most the songs in a couple few takes on a Saturday and then mixed and mastered it the next day. Nice and simple like we think it should be. It's all self-penned material and we couldn't be happier with the results. Olivier has an amazing ear to match his room and uses all analog gear, most all of it was vintage; tube processors and compressors, authentic microphones that were older than we were, which allowed us to steer clear of that sterile digital sound. He was truly able to capture the energy and the style of not only our sound but nailed the overall feel of what we're all about and how we wanted to present ourselves on our first CD.
UP: One of your MySpace bulletins said this would be the "first of several" CDs you're releasing this year. Can we really expect another Rooster Coup DeVille album (or more) before the year is up?
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Coz: Well to be honest this first release is a 5 song EP. For some reason folks just don't seem as willing to pay 10 bucks for a full CD these days with all the iTunes and outlets to pay by the song, but no one hesitates to throw a 5 Spot at you to pull 5 songs. It doesn't make much sense to us, but we figure we'll take what money we make on the shows and keep hitting the studio churning out 5 at a time. We actually have enough material now to take us into next year with at least 3 more EPs, if we can keep making enough scratch on them to press the next one. We also have a lot of brand spankin' new material we haven't played out yet. Its got more of a '40s jump blues, swing sound to it and if we can figure out how to make it happen we'd love to add a horn section and a harmony section to really swing it out. If not we'll just turn it up a bit and rooster it up a little more.
UP: What's up next after the CD release show? Any other gigs you'd like to plug?
Coz: Well the Official CD Release Party is Thursday, March 25 at The Blooze Bar (32nd & Cactus). We have free CDs to hand out throughout the evening and special surprise guests joining us onstage all night long. We guarantee this will be an unforgettable night you really shouldn't miss. Then next its a return to Rogue West Bar (SW Corner of 35th Ave & Northern) on Saturday, April 17. Sarah & Xavier have just about the coolest juke joint in Phoenix and we love playing for all their friends there, so we'd love to reach some more people and see some new faces come check out a very cool show at a very cool joint!