Cop Shoot Cop

By Bob Gourley | Originally published in 1992

Being picked up by a major label may mean more money, support, and exposure, but in some cases it can also lead to less fun. In Cop Shoot Cop’s case, their first tour after being signed has proved to be disappointing in terms of unexpected incidents that will turn into good stories to tell people later. Sure, nothing can top the time they were accused of being terrorists in LA, but sitting in their dressing room prior to their show at the Rat in March, Cop Shoot Cop seem truly disappointed about how uneventful their tour has been so far.

“It’s kind of boring this time, no major catastrophes,” proclaims bassist/vocalist Tod A. “And it’s not quite natural; it’s hard to get used to the hotels and all that shit.

This time, the group was not travelling in the camouflage van which tended to attract attention and problems, so they were forced to look for trouble on their own.

“We tried,” says drummer Phil Puleo. “We tried to get the van stuck in mud, but people helped us out; We tried to burn down a hotel but the fire alarms worked.

Cop Shoot Cop had their beginnings in 1988 and cite “boredom and hatred of everything else that was going on” as their prime motivation for getting started. After a few changes from their original incarnation, the line-up settled with Tod A. on high-end bass/vocals, Natz on low-end bass/vocals, Puleo on drums and Cripple Jim on samplers.

The group has an odd instrumentation, but it is not really reflected in their music because the sampler fills in where a guitar would be otherwise. Occasionally, the group will use guitars; one song on each of the last few albums used the instrument and three songs in the live set do. But in general, Cop Shoot Cop use the sampler in it’s place, as it does not lock them into a particular sound. Currently, all samples are played on keyboard, though the band hopes to get into drum triggers in the future.

In the past, Cop Shoot Cop have been one of those band that gets greater acceptance overseas than in their own country. “An American band in Europe is more of a novelty,” says Tod. “They’re more supportive of weird shit in general. Here the definition of success is making lots of money, there success is maybe making something that’s different and new”

But Cop Shoot Cop are poised to achieve the fame the deserve in their home country. After several years on the indie circuit, the group was snatched up by Interscope (“they came after us with Pitchforks” jokes Tod). Cop Shoot Cop released their debut album on that label, Don’t Ask Questions, earlier this year. The group says that they have managed to avoid record company interference and have full reign over what their music sounds like and how their covers look.

With the major labels suddenly setting their sights on the “alternative” market and picking up underground acts, it would seem that Cop Shoot Cops are part of this cashing in of the industry. While they don’t refute that fact that this may have been a factor in their getting signed, they don’t see it as a sell-out. “It’s now part of the mainstream music industry; it’s no longer alternative,” says Tod. “But I think us, or the Unsane, or anybody should have as much chance to irritate people as Michael Jackson or Billy Joel.”

Jim agrees, adding that “what’s being called Alternative music is just rehashing of stuff we heard 20 years ago. It’s like not really alternative, it’s just another generic term”

Still, the group does see the business side of things as an nuisance. While they say that being on a larger label has allowed them “to hire slaves” to take some of the burden off, the things that come along with making music are still an annoyance. “I never ceases to amaze me how much bull shit you have to go through just to record a record and play a show,” explains Tod. “It’s like 90% of your time is just spent doing other things that have nothing to do with music.”

But becoming more established has allowed the band to acquire samplers that don’t crash on stage and basses that don’t always go out of tune. Although they are not quite used to touring in comfort, they say that life back in New York is not different no that they are on Interscope.

When asked about that incident in LA, the band blurted out “LA .. camouflage van .. bomb suspects .. Japanese restaurant .. on the ground …. handcuffs … 1 1/2 delay .. $8000 … business card from a police sergent.” Briefly, a show they were meant to play at UCLA during the time of the riots was cancelled, and when they went out to get some food, the police mistook them for terrorists. They van was searched and the worst that was found was a few fire works. Cop Shoot Cop were then lectured to by a police sergent about how the whole incident cost the city $8000.

Stories of the road don’t get much better than that, and hopefully life on a major label won’t always prevent Cop Shoot Cop from getting themselves into such interesting situations.

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