There’s been an abundance of great music this week and Jack Cooper is another to add to that list of great artists making headway to the heart with “North Of Anywhere” (our Song of the Day) from his debut solo Sandgrown released on Trouble Mind Records on 25th August.
Cooper, a member of alt-rock band Ultimate Painting found new project a liberating experience:
“Recording on my own liberated me to sing more like I actually sing. I think I‘ve spent a long time in loud bands singing in a way that can be heard through music. The songs that I wrote for Sandgrown suit my voice more than anything I’ve done before.” Working within the confines of specific 4-track cassette machine (a Teac 144.), Jack has produced his most satisfying work to date. “I love the physicality of working on tape. I’ve always had a 4-track but I sought out a particular machine. I’m not a huge Bruce Springsteen fan but I love the sound of Nebraska… I needed that specific machine.”
The album was inspired by his hometown of Blackpool and his upbringing on England’s Fylde Coast.
“Everyone’s from somewhere,” says Jack. “I don’t think it’s particularly important people know this album is about Blackpool, but I think everyone can empathise with the themes on the record.” Evoking the delicate but often widescreen musicality of Bill Fay and the abstract lyricism of the late 60s Scott Walker records, as well as the more experimental sounds of John Cale and Robert Wyatt, Sandgrown is a collection of tranquil ballads that evoke feelings of nostalgia and re-evaluation about where you come from, wherever that may be.
Jack spent the first 13 years of his life living in the rural village of Poulton-le- Fylde, about five miles outside Blackpool. On moving into town, he spent his summers as a deckchair attendant, soaking up the community of people who lived and worked around the seafront – lifeguards, carnival workers, donkey owners, skateboarders, transients and hippies. “There were just a lot of interesting people around all the time… weirdos who were drawn to the seaside in the summer. Winter would come and you had this huge community of people who didn’t really know what to do.”
By the time Jack was 15, Blackpool’s role as a holiday destination was dwindling due to the introduction of cheap air travel to Europe. Stacks of deckchairs were increasingly left unused, and in the winter months it became a place of drugs, seedy bars and people struggling to get by without the tourist trade. As the Blackpool he knew slipped away, 20-year- old Jack moved to Manchester where he began playing in bands and recording. Sandgrown is about those formative years and the creation of it – “I’ve been trying to do this record since I was about 18… I bought my first 4-track with the proceeds of a summer working on the promenade and I guess I got sidetracked along the way. I’ve been listening to Terry Allen’s ‘Lubbock (On Everything)’ a lot and I wanted to make something that painted a picture of a place as vividly as that. I love how Frank Sinatra’s ‘Watertown’ feels so cinematic.”
Sandgrown is released via Troubled Mind Records on 25 August 2017.
There’s also a tangerine limited edition CD or Vinyl version available here.
Sunday 10th September – The Hope and Ruin, Brighton
Monday 11th September – BBC 6 Music Session
Tuesday 12th September – The Waiting Room, London
Wednesday 13th September – Cafe Kino, Bristol
Thursday 14th September – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
Friday 15th September – The Eagle Inn, Salford
Saturday 16th September – venue TBC, Blackpool
Sunday 17th September – The Old Hairdresser’s, Glasgow