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SILENT FORCE


SILENT FORCE "Silent Screams"



by Dr. Abner Mality

D. C. Cooper may be the best American vocalist you have never heard of. An opera-trained vocal coach and budding record producer, D. C. missed replacing Rob Halford in Judas Priest by that much and it sure isn't
hard to imagine his incredible voice handling some classic Priest tracks. This man can SING! And that's what he's been doing for most of his life, only most of his notoriety has come in Europe. For almost ten years, he was the lead vocalist of the melodic Scandinavian metal band Royal Hunt. In Europe, Cooper is something of a cult hero and worshipped by fans of classy hard rock. In the States, as usual, he takes a back seat to the likes of Kid Rock. That says a lot right there, doesn't it?

Now D.C. is finally starting to make a foothold for himself on home soil with his new band Silent Force, which is anything but quiet. This is 100% pure metal, with deep roots in the classics. D. C. is joined by a stellar line-up of musicians, including ex-Primal Fear guitarist Alex Beyrodt. The latest SF LP "Infatuator" is a full-throttle journey through familiar metal territory, hitting all sorts of reference points but doing it with style, panache and, as far as D. C. is concerned, amazing vocal range.

With "Infatuator" in the stores, we felt it was a good time to speak to the man who lends his voice to Silent Force...

Wormwood Chronicles: In the period between your debut "Empire of the Future" and the latest record "Infatuator", how much more has Silent Force gelled as a band?

D.C. COOPER: Oh, a hundred percent. When we went out on the "Empire of the Future" tour, we lived together for 7 or 8 weeks, every day. You get to learn a lot about each other. Alex (Beyrodt, guitarist...ed) and I were pretty close before but the rest of the band I wasn't personally connected to. On that tour and with all the studio time we put in, we matured, as friends and business partners. We had opportunities to sit down and talk about business and what each one of us wanted to put into the band itself. I think "Infatuator" shows how much more together we are as a band and a team.

WC: You've been a completely European band so far. Do you see any shows in the US in the future?

DC: Well, that's up to basic record sales at this point in time. We have a couple of offers for a few festivals that will be taking place later on this year. I'm sure we'll be getting into the country to do a couple of shows but we'd really like to pull some kind of tour together. The bottom line will be the demand we get from people here in the United States. I'm continually telling people that if they want to see us here, contact the record company and let them know you want to see Silent Force. It would be really great just to get back in the States.

WC: It's pretty general knowledge that the power metal scene is pretty saturated over in Europe. What exactly do you bring to the table that other bands don't?

DC: Ooooh! I have to be careful answering that one without sounding too big-headed...

WC: Let me say it this way: what separates you from the pack?

DC: Knowing what we want. Knowing what we want out of each other's sound. The total package, especially with Alex and myself, has a lot of experience and know-how. Whenever we come on stage, it's more of a commanding kind of performance.

WC: Experience is the difference...

DC: Yeah, I would say the experience shines through. We don't go out on stage all timid or anything like that. Ever since I started touring with Royal Hunt ten years ago, all I ever wanted was just the opportunity to come out on stage. Give me the opportunity and I'll show you what I can do. I don't care if there's five people or 50 people or 50,000 people, I'm gonna go out there and give everything that I have. Every person that comes to see that show is there for a reason. They're there to be entertained. These people work hard for their money and they've chosen to buy a ticket to see your show so you damn well better give them everything they want to see. That's the standard I used in putting this band together as well as my solo band. It's the same attitude you find in the rest of the band..

WC: What can be done to popularize your sort of music in America? It seems like record labels and MTV just won't give it a break.

DC: One of the things I try to extend to people here in the States, my home country, is that they shouldn't be afraid to tell people they like it. There's such a clique going on, espcially with the younger kids. It's all commercialism. It's all about what kind of clothes, what kind of shoes, what kind of jewelry are they wearing. And it's about what their friends are listening to.

As an example, I was at a music conference down in Atlanta about a month ago and I talked to a number of people. There was a kid that was 16 years old who was a guitar player, he had been studying guitar for four years already, and he really hated stuff like Blink 182 and these new bands tearing up the charts. He didn't like it because it wasn't challenging to him as a musician. He got into this progressive, power metal end of things and he was just loving it. That's a good sign to me. But this kid's buddy, who was with him, was giving him these eyes, like "Oh man, he's just crazy". He's standing there with his spiked hair, his silver jewelry, his ball chain around his neck...

WC: A nice little goatee...

DC: Yeah, exactly! The look on his buddy's face said, he doesn't know what he's talking about. But the guitar-playing kid was extremely intelligent, he threw out a lot of names of the guitarists he was studying. He was right there, he was on top of it. He turned right around and told his buddy, "Shut up." I had to laugh at that, because
he didn't really care what anybody else thought.

I think something that could help is, if you are a fan and you like the music, don't be an underground kind of fan. Don't be a closet heavy metal head! This is especially for the young kids. Whenever somebody comes over, play it for them, get them to listen to it. It will catch on.

WC: Peer pressure is an awfully strong force...

DC: Yeah! The people who like this music in America need to find their voice, they need to call the radio stations and call the people in the press. The only way this is going to come back around is if we get a lot of help from a lot of people. I've only done one concert in the US in the last 7 years and that was in May 2001. I want to play over here bad. The "Infatuator" album has turned out real well. The response is good, we have some college radio playing us.

WC: You were in Royal Hunt for a long time before Silent Force. Are you able to do more vocally in SF?

DC: Well, the Royal Hunt music was limiting me. I can do a lot more in Silent Force, especially as far as aggression goes. As far as what my voice can do, I'm pretty comfortable singing about basically anything.

WC: Was your voice something you came by naturally or did you have to work at it?

DC: It was raw talent. God gave me a gift and my gift back to Him is what I do with it. If I sit around on my butt and smoke dope and drink and do drugs and treat myself like crap, my career will wind up the same way. I'm very careful with my voice, I work on it as much as possible. I try to stay healthy, especially when it comes to touring, which is pretty hard sometimes.

I took about 5 years of opera training in the middle of my 20 year career and it really helped to expand my range. It helped me hit those higher notes and sustain them. I'm a vocal coach, also, and I'm completely sold on control. Whenever I see a band live, I wanna hear how the singer controls his voice. If you just come out there and go "WAAAHHHH!" and start shelling everybody, it's like throwing your cards on the table immediately. That turns me off a little bit. I like to see people make a progression. If you blow out early, your energy level drags and halfway through the concert, people start to get bored.


WC: On "Infatuator", there are a lot of different influences I can hear. The title track is obviously showing a Judas Priest influence...

DC: Some people have compared it to "Jugulator" but that's not really where that song is coming from. The style of how it was set up vocally was definitely influenced by classic Priest. As far as how the name of the track came to be, that was inspired by my method of writing songs. My method is based strictly on melody, not on lyrics. When I begin writing a song, I might be singing something like "la la la, my dog has fleas". I sing whatever is in my head to get the melody so stupid words come out of my mouth. Working with Dennis Ward and other producers, I get melody jammed down my throat. Dennis is always saying, "melody,melody, melody, I want to hear hooks". He yells at me, "I don't give a crap about lyrics, I want to get that hook!"

That's how the word "Infatuator" came out of my mouth. It didn't really mean anything, the rest of the guys in the band were going, "what is that?". I told everybody it was nothing, it wasn't a word but when I thought about it, I thought this could be a word. And things went from there. The word had a reason for itself. An infatuator is basically a person who instills infatuation in someone, It's not in Webster's Dictionary and actually, I contacted Webster's and sent the word in. That's where the name came from, it really had nothing to do with Judas Priest. I definitely wanted to get some of that feel and that drive into the song. It was kind of a good way for me to go balls out and say, hey, man, this is for you, this is in your face.

There have been a lot of folks who came up to me and said it would have been great if I had been in Judas Priest. I was actually one of the finalists to get Rob Halford's job in Judas Priest. This is what it would have been like if I had joined Judas Priest.

WC: On the song "World Aflame", I heard a lot of Deep Purple coming through. It had that really huge Hammond organ sound on it.

DC: That's one of my favorite tunes on the album. It's not exactly poppy but its a little bit mainstream. I just like the whole feel of the tune. When I first did the song, the lyrics were completely different. For some reason, about an hour before we went to the studio, I wasn't liking the song. We took a break to get something to eat and during the hour we were off, I completely rewrote the lyrics and the melody. I walked into the studio and I had the song done in about 2 hours for the lead vocal lines. It was a complete gut feeling kind of thing. That's why it's one of my favorite songs because it wasn't overanalyzed, it wasn't oversung. It's just a good straightforward kind of tune. Plus I love that Hammond sound, I just absolutely love it.

WC: It's always a tricky thing using keyboards in heavy metal...

DC: Toto (Torsten Rohre, keyboardist) is a phenomenal keyboard player. He's an extremely young guy and he's just shown through immensely. I call him a kid because he is 24 years old but the talent that he has in his fingers and his mind is absolutely phenomenal. He's very structured in his playing and very critical of himself. He's really too hard on himself. If he misses a part, he gets really PO'd at himself. You don't see that kind of attitude and passion that often and from somebody that young. I really think Toto has a huge future ahead of him and I definitely want to be part of it.

WC: What track on the record was the one you felt closest to?

DC: Hmmmmm. Well, "World Aflame" is probably my favorite tune. I'm also close to "Infatuator" because it just lays things out on the table. But "Hear Me Calling" is the one I'm emotionally closest to, because it involves my brother's death. He's been gone for almost 15 years. He was my best friend, we were inseperable at times. He was my biggest fan, also. I just didn't deal with his death for many, many years. I just pushed it off to the side.

I don't know how it happened but Alex was the one who realized what I was doing whenever I wrote lyrics or melodies. He just asked me, "is this about your brother?" I didn't even realize what I was writing about. It just kind of clicked inside me and I finally said, it's time to deal with this and let's lay it out. So "Hear Me Calling" is about that. And also "Last Time", which is about the last time I saw him. I've finally dealt with it, I've dealt with this demon and I'm extremely happy about doing that.

WC: When I read the lyrics to "Last Time", I couldn't figure it out at first. Who is the "he" in the song? Most of the times, it's a "she"! Now it makes sense!

DC: (laughing) Yeah, a lot of people asked me about that. They were wondering if maybe D.C. was a little bit funny there! Well, getting back to those songs, it was a big deal for me for about 2 days. I wasn't sure if wanted to deal with it but my mind and my gut feelings told me to run with it.

WC: It was a therapeutic experience...

DC: Oh, it was absolutely amazing. When we first performed "Hear Me Calling" in the studio, both Alex and Andre my drummer had tears running down their faces. I had my face buried in my hands because I was so happy. I just couldn't believe that I finally did this and faced it down. You know, for my band to be so supportive and so in tune with what I was feeling, was incredible. Especially Alex. I've never reallylet myself get close to anybody the way I was close to my brother until Alex came along. I consider him like a brother to me.

The hardest part is going to be when I sing this live on stage for the first time. I told the guys, when I open my mouth and nothing comes out, somebody better step up!

WC: For your own enjoyment, what was the last CD you picked up?

DC: I think the last one I got was "Silence" by Sonata Arctica. It's just an absolutely phenomenal and fantastic CD. I saw them at Wacken Open Air and they're so young but just incredible musicians.

WC: And what was the last concert you saw just for yourself?

DC: Well, I saw Aaron Neville about 2 months ago. He's one of my all-time favorite singers. Him and James Taylor. He's got such a unique quality to his voice. I also saw Ratt with Jizzy Pearl here in Pittsburgh not too long ago but that was more business because the opening band was interested in having me produce their next record.

To contact this writer, send your email to: drmality@wormwoodchronicles.com.