Interview with Westerner
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Mike (Drums, sample pads): Garth brooks. There’s a live performance of Garth brooks on VHS that I had as a kid and that really sparked it up for me. You can actually look it up on YouTube and watch it. It’s pretty good. I watched it again recently and I was like whoa this guy puts on a fuckin’ show. If I wasn’t in music I’d probably be a handy man or doing construction or engineering.
Cooper (lead vocals, guitar, synth: I always day dreamed about being in a band when I was in elementary school. I imagined the girls I had crushes on walking in wearing these boas and seeing me performing and “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing". Then in middle school this kid and I randomly decided to start a band. My mom was kind enough to buy me a budget electric guitar. My dad was also a very musical guy and I grew up watching him perform in musicals and sing folk songs. He had a passion for music that I caught. I would probably be in the sciences if I weren’t a performer.
Brandon (bass, backing vocals, synth): My mom and I used to go to concerts all the time when I was a kid and I got to perform on saxophone with some local bands. Loved the feeling of being onstage. If it wasn’t for music I have no fucking idea what I’d be doing.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Cooper: I love horror movies. So lately some of what I write is about a character who is kind of nefarious, like Yesferatu or Doppelgänger.
Mike: I work on audio electronics. I find solving problems to be very creative and gets the old corpus callosum bridging the gap between the left and right brain.
Cooper: Mike fixes all our gear. Mike: And solves all of our problems.
How long has your band been around?
Cooper: 8 years. I think we started performing in 2014. Brandon: Yeah the first show starts the clock.
Mike: I have a picture from when we first met. Cooper: You do?!?
Mike: Yeah it’s when we were hanging out and we did that human pyramid. Cooper: Oh, my god.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Mike: Los Angeles. I’m sure it influenced us somehow but I don’t know.
Brandon: We like to cater to our bohemian-dressing, kale-eating, kefir-drinking, chakra crystal- carrying…
Cooper: …anarcho-syndicaliste communal… Brandon: …moon children.
Mike: And trust fund kids.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Cooper: To me Westerner means someone who is searching for the new frontier, which in modern times is the inner space and outer space. We explore with meditation and rocket ships. Those spaces are both really interesting to me.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Cooper: I loved our residency at Good Times at Davey Wayne’s. There were some rarified vibes going on in there.
Mike: What was that awards show we played? Cooper: The Location Awards for film?
Mike: Location Scout Awards? It was just an odd thing cause we were playing at the Beverly Hilton to a bunch of people that probably didn’t care that we were there on a huge stage.
Cooper: Yeah it felt like a large leap forward for us because of the stage and size of the audience. Brandon, do you wanna talk about a favorite show of yours?
Brandon (looks up from phone): a TV show?
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Brandon; Good Times at Davey Wayne’s. Always a hip crowd dancing their drunk asses off. I would personally love to play the Greek in LA and Red Rocks in Colorado. Or I mean I’m looking forward to playing. (Points to sky to indicate that the universe is listening).
Cooper: I’d love to play festivals. I’ve found that it doesn’t matter what venue you play. It’s the audience that makes the difference.
Mike: Anyplace with a green room and good sound. Brandon: Agreed. That’s the standard.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Brandon: Tame Impala.
Mike: None of my bands would fit. I listen to a lot of metal. What’s that two peice band? Cooper: Royal Blood.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
Brandon: Enjoy the journey. Don’t put all your energy on the destination.
Cooper: Any idea you have, just do it. The inspiration is an opportunity and it’s best to strike when the iron is hot. Later you’ll look back and if you didn’t do it you might regret it.
Mike: Be humble.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Cooper: Don’t be afraid to be yourself to the hilt and go full bore on whatever you have in your mind to do. Somebody else is gonna come along and do it and get famous for it.
Brandon: Let me think. I like that but I wanna say something different.
Mike: I’m not sure how to word it but I would say be more confident and not be afraid of what people think of you. Yeah.
Brandon: You’re better than you think you are. You’re more talented than you think you are. Don’t forget to sell yourself as the badass that you think you are.
Cooper: Didn’t you ask Siri to call you “Badass Motherfucker?” Brandon: Hey, Siri. What do you call me?
Siri (in Australian accent): You’re Brandon. But because we’re friends I get to call you Badass Motherfucker.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Mike: Well, Say My Name always gets me in the feels whenever we’re playing it, just based on what you wrote it about.
Cooper: Yeah it’s hard not to feel something when we play that song.
Brandon: Probably Say My Name cause it reminds me of the people we’ve lost and we keep their memory alive when we play it.
Cooper: I also like Frog a lot because it’s so weird and I’m grateful that people like it so much.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Brandon: Favorite to play is Yesferatu. We get Space Odyssey requested a lot. And by that I mean (Mike’s wife) Lauren.
Mike: My favorite’s Dawn.
Cooper: You do get to show off a lot in that one. I like the new stuff we are coming up with. Usually my favorite is a new one we’re working on. And Hell is Dull.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Cooper: I would say it’s a lot of different things. Mike: There isn’t a direct answer.
Cooper: We kind of just work off of whatever we hear that hooks us. Brandon might come up with a bass line or we might jam something out that sticks with us, or I might come with a song mostly written.
Mike: It’s overall a collaborative process.
Brandon: For me my influences are everything from Motown to EDM.
Mike: For me it’s all the emotions I feel when I hear a new band or new music.
Cooper: A lot of times what inspires me is an unusual point of view that I’ll then form a character around. Or if there’s a cool guitar or bass hook I’ll write a song around that. And sometimes if I have a strong feeling I’ll make a sort of character that expresses that feeling exponentially. It makes it easier for me to express it.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Brandon: Have as much sex as possible. Cooper: Where’s the lie?
Mike: Live. Laugh. Love.
Cooper: I think that a lot of our messages have to do with accepting the parts of yourself and others that are in opposition or are contradictory. It’s kind of a way to harmonize what feels conflicted or rejected.
Brandon: And don’t take yourself too seriously.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Brandon: Well, we’ve learned each other’s communication styles. Cooper: No, we haven’t. You ignore me all the time.
Brandon: Mike, did you hear something? Mike: Shut up. You’re both wrong.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
Cooper: Yeah, we are releasing an album called Kali Yuga Kama Sutra on August 19th on Coconut Spaceship Records. And we have a music video for our single from the album, called Hell is Dull dropping the same day. And we’re playing our album release show at School Night on August 22nd which is very exciting. Every time we mention that to somebody they say, “isn’t that where Billie Eilliah got her start?” I don’t know if that’s true but it’s definitely where a lot of people got their start. It’s a major event for any upcoming artist.