New Band of the Week: COPE

There’s not many things that we love more than some good, fast-paced hardcore punk and that’s what we get in spades from London’s COPE, who’ve honed a sound that they aptly summarise as “heavy fucking punk.”

The band formed back in 2015 as a vessel to release their feelings about the world, promote change and build awareness of things that are happening – which I’m sure we can all relate to at this very moment. And, after several lineup changes, the current band has been together for around two years with original members Ed Thompson and Josh Bowles joined by Tom Walker (vocals), Jay Miller (guitars and vocals), Jason Heightman (bass and vocals) and Soloman Radley (drums).

As Josh tells us: “We formed as a direct result of pent up frustrations – all of us at the time had played in bands previously and had been out of action for a while, so we had a thirst to make music again. I was also getting increasingly angry about the way the world was headed and started writing lyrics before COPE was actually a thing. It was very cathartic and spurred me on to reach out to some likeminded people to form a proper band.”

They’ve since set about honing their own brand of punk music, which Josh summarises to us as: “We call it heavy punk – a description given to us by the guy who did our original logo. It’s a mix of punk, hardcore and metal, with some crossover elements.

“It’s actually quite tricky to assign a genre to it and actually most people tend to group us with metal bands. That’s fine with us – we’re huge metal fans as well as punk, so if we can fit in both camps then great. We don’t really know many bands like us in the UK, so we tend to tour with metal bands.”

And our next offering of that punk and metal crossover will be the band’s debut album The Shock Doctrine, which is out next Friday (22 May). On it, Josh told us: “We’re very excited but also somewhat nervous. You never know how a piece of music will be received, so whilst you may think you’ve produced something killer, there’s always that element of doubt in your mind.

“You listen back and think ‘maybe I should’ve done that differently’ or whatever but mostly we’re just really excited for people to hear what we’ve been working on for this past year or so. Our sound has gradually changed over the years, so it shouldn’t be a surprising record in that sense, but overall I do think it’s a great example of our work and what we can do.”

The latest taste we have for what’s coming on the album is the excellent Gold, which we played on a recent episode of our GigRadio podcast. It opens with a light lick then palm-muted guitars join in before bursting into a lively smash of punky riffs and a sireny guitar over the top.

Tom’s shouty vocals take over in a heavy verse and the pace picks up in a pre-chorus into a big singalong chorus. A second chorus drops into the opening light guitars in a brief pause for breath, before gradually building back into a final blast of the lively, catchy chorus. Check it out in the video below:

We’ve had a sneak preview of the album and it’s safe to say that there’s plenty more where that and previous singles Empire and Life In 3D have come from. It’s packed with intense, fast-paced metal meets punk goodness.

A particular personal favourite is second track I’m Alright, Jack, which dives straight into lively guitars and drums and doesn’t relent throughout. A barrage of screamed vocals feeds into a delicious chorus of clean vocals supported by a cool little guitar lick, before dropping into a huge smash of stabbing guitars and huge vocals.

The album is fast-paced and frantic yet engaging and melodic. If you like your music punky, packed with riffs and angst, then COPE are most certainly the band for you, while closing with Influenza seems very topical!

We also chatted to Josh about how the band went about creating their first album. On it, he told us: “We took a staggered approach to the whole process, simply because of time and money. As much as we would’ve loved to lock ourselves away for 2 weeks in the studio and get it all done and dusted, time didn’t allow us that luxury, so we did it in stages across multiple locations.

“The best bit in my opinion is when all tracking is done, because you get a first taste of the song as a whole which can really spur you on. It’s one thing to write a song, play it together in practice and at shows, but an entirely different thing to hear that song played back to you, even without it mixed. The hardest part of it all is the gaps in between recording sessions – you sometimes lose a little bit of that drive you’d otherwise get in a week-long session.”

The COPE sound has been honed on influences like Comeback Kid – which definitely comes across strongly – Less Than Jake, Testament, Evergreen Terrace, Cro-Mags and Misfits, and much more beyond punk. As Josh explains: “I’m also massively influenced by hip-hop, especially UK stuff. I spent many of my formative years listening to Task Force, Jehst, Braintax, Souls Of Mischief, J5, Cunninlynguists & Cypress Hill. We all have very eclectic music tastes, so I think you’d be surprised at what we actually listen to day-to-day and on tour. I’ve got to give a shout out to Moon Boots, simply ’cause my guys get sick to death of me blasting that in the van!”

And when it comes to what inspires their music, once again this is very topical. Josh tells us: “Politics, simply put. We’re a political band, and always have been. It’s always been the social injustices in the world that have inspired me to write. I quote this in interviews all the time because it’s true: ‘Bad governments make great music’, and until we start seeing some positive changes throughout the world, there’ll always be bands like us around to shout about the injustices we see.

“At the same time, I always respect the listener’s right to interpret music in a way that relates to them so I try and keep things a little vague. We also make a point of not preaching at our live shows – there’s a time and place for all of that, and whilst we’ll make a few comments and statements, generally we want people to come to a COPE show and have a good time.

“Despite the serious nature of our music, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. It really is a laugh or cry situation these days, so we try and go for the former.”

These are exciting times for COPE with their superb debut album on the verge of release and plans to get back on the road and gig as soon as they’re able. And, when you’re enjoying listening to COPE’s music, this is what they want you to consider, as Josh puts it: “I’d like readers to think for themselves and question everything. If you feel passionately about a particular subject then do something about it – write, sing, make music, whatever, just create something. Channel the frustration into something positive and the world will slowly become a better place.”

You can follow COPE on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify, Bandcamp, Apple Music and YouTube. And be sure to get hold of their debut album, which is released next Friday (22 May) and available for pre-order on Bandcamp.

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