Atlanta-based Agent Cooper is a Southern Progressive Rock band formed in 1998 from the remnants of Atlanta progressive rock bands Salem Ash and Rain.
“…they are all very talented and technically more than just proficient musicians… The production standard of these recordings is at about the highest level I could imagine… This is uplifting, happy prog…”
~wfg2, Alternative Matter
Guitarz Forever.com Agent Cooper Interview
Scott - Hi Sean, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview w/ me and my Guitarz Forever readers and subscribers.
Sean – Hello Scott!! Thanks for giving me the opportunity. Guitarz Forever is a great site!
Scott - The reason why I wanted to do an interview w/ you is because I was lucky enough to come across your electrifying inspirational music and thought more folks need to hear your rousing vibrations... The funny thing is, I stumbled on to your music quite by accident on YouTube. And yes, there was something in that name "Agent Cooper" where I was tempted to give a listen. I'm glad I did...
Scott - So Sean, what is behind the name Agent Cooper?
Sean – That one comes from Doug Busbee (Lead singer/Guitars). He obviously fell in love with David Lynch and “Twin Peaks”. I actually can’t believe how many “Agent Cooper” bands there are out there! Fortunately (and unfortunately, depending how you look at it) we are definitely the oldest Agent Cooper… meaning the longest recording, touring, with releases, published etc. etc. And let’s be honest, we probably are literally the “oldest” as well.
Scott - Please introduce yourself and the band if you don't mind, give us a brief history of the band and how y'all came together...
Sean - The “SUPER SHORT” version goes like this: The band formed somewhere in the late 80’s. (Originally called “Salem Ash”) The members are Doug Busbee on lead vocals and guitars; Eric Frampton is our resident keyboard wizard and wears “engineer and producer” hats as well. Ganesh Giri Jaya on drums…. And yours truly on all things Bass. Who we are and how we ultimately came together is a little complicated but I’ll do my best. A few years back, I read a review of us where we were called the “TOTO of the South”. Because we were all session players working around Atlanta, GA, we just kept crossing paths whilst working on various projects. Add to this the fact that we share a love for all things music, (especially that which leans toward the “Progressive” era), and it becomes quite clear that it was just a matter of time before that common tie found and bound us together in a band. There you have the “in a nutshell” version! I can expand on that if you wish…
Scott - Give our readers out there a description of the band's music.
Sean – Well depending on the song, you will hear anything from “Wow, that sounds like Queen met STYX! Or “Kansas fused with some Genesis”. There are a lot of reviews out there with similar pairings, but my personal favorite as of late was from our last session. We had one of my oldest friends, Matt Laug, track drums on several of our newest tunes (to be released in a month or so). The session was done in Los Angeles where Matt has a private engineer. After Matt ran down the song, the engineer said, “Damn! That sounds like RUSH – Bluegrass!!” We all laughed at that one… It really does depend on the song.
Scott - When I listen to your music, I smile thinking that there are bands out there that are still willing to break new sonic boundaries. Is there a formula in writing the music or do you try to keep more esoteric?
Sean – We can break sonic boundaries, and eardrums with equal aplomb. I will tell you that certainly is no real “formula” for us. We never know where the song(s) will take us and there’s a beauty in that. An adventure, if you will. So long as we are all having fun doing what we are doing, the magic will stay alive.
Scott - What is the name of your latest album and what was the idea behind it?
Sean –The record is called “Far From Sleep”. It’s the title track named after the highly strange (Track 8 on the record) “Far From Sleep”. The song itself is one part of three songs to be released over time. And yes…. all of our favorite prog bands did that stuff, back in the day! So why not?
Scott - Are you an Indie band or do you have a record label?
Sean – I would ask a more important question: What’s the difference? Hahaha! Our last label was a deal with Universal. But unless you truly have the selling power of Taylor Swift, you will get NOTHING from most of today’s record labels. These are very different times, my friend. Being independent these days is a different animal thanks to the internet. It’s very liberating, and we are enjoying the “Keep it small, and keep it all” mindset behind it. “Far From Sleep” is out there and we will decide if going back to a label makes since for us depending on the offer.
Scott - I'll tell you what, the band's vocalist Doug Busbee can sing his ass off! He certainly has a great set of pipes... Is he a trained vocalist?
Sean – Yep that boy CAN sing. I taught him everything he knows and he was a great student of mine (That’s in no way true…as far as you know). The first time we jammed together was a staggering (gulp!) 30 f----ng years ago!! We both were living in Florence, S.C. at the time. As very, very young kids, of course. He has some training, yes, but mainly just a God given talent mixed with a ton of practice, practice, practice!
Scott - As you know all too well, your song structures, arrangements and time signatures are changing frequently. However, Doug's vocals and lyrics keep it together and easy to follow. Do you think this may help with getting more exposure with the mainstream market of rock music listeners?
Sean – I sure as hell hope so! And if you can think of any way we can do that, please share…
Scott - The musicianship and talent within this band goes without saying... Are you one of those bands that uses charts and sheet music or are you a jam band that knows how to record well?
Sean – I know we can, and have used charts, but I’d say we are mainly the latter of your question. Let’s say maybe 10% charts at times (to help) and 90% from the head.
Scott - Is there a main songwriter or is there more of a collaboration amongst all the band members?
Sean – Doug is almost 99% the starter of all of the songs. A riff, a story, melody, etc. Then we all start our own processes. A lot of adding, subtracting, changing, shaping, etc. etc… That’s usually how it goes. I’m guessing most of the bands you interview answer that question similarly?
Scott - Who does the mixing and engineering of your sound?
Sean – For the last several years, it’s been brother Eric Frampton. We usually go into a professional studio to get the live drums, where there is a house engineer that really knows the room. In that instance, Eric plays producer. We all have home studios to record our personal parts, but drums are tricky… and VERY important to our sound.
Scott - How much control does the band have over the mixing?
Sean – I would say ultimate control. At the end of a mix, we all hand in and compare our notes. Everybody has their say, and it really helps the overall song. The mixing and shaping stage is my favorite time (because my parts are all done!).
Scott - Does the band tour? If so, where...?
Sean – The last world tour we did was with Tony MacAlpine on his “Dream Mechanism” tour. That was a BLAST! We were slated to do several follow up tours, but they all fell through. We all agree that we want and need to get back out there in 2015, but it has to make sense. Currently we have 2 agents (One based in the UK, and one here in the US) submitting us for tours. Fingers crossed we will be back out there very soon.
Scott - What are you listening to these days?
- Not a lot really… I’m currently buried in our own music, and behind on
recording my parts for another Agent Cooper record. Blame it on Christmas, then
New Years…. Now the Super Bowl. I need to get back on it. Working on our own
songs keeps me pretty busy and I’m happy with that.
Scott - Do you or the band endorse any Instruments or Gear?
Sean – I will have to check with the guys current roster of endorsements. I personally have enjoyed (and been very spoiled by) a billion sets of strings courtesy of Dean Markley, and then there’s HALO Custom Guitars. They approached me about a “Sean B. Delson” signature model bass guitar… I’ll send you a photo of that bad boy! That was a milestone in my career that I’m very happy and proud of. During my touring years with Chris Jericho’s band “FOZZY” and the metal band “Stuck Mojo”, I have to give a shout out to the big companies like Peavey, Ibanez, and Laney to name a few. Showing up anywhere in the world and having free gear waiting for you is a great thing!
Scott - Do you have any current music you are working on for a future release?
Sean – YES. As mentioned earlier…. I’m buried.
Scott - I also don't want to forget this... Tell us about any other things you or the band may be involved in or any special interest besides music that is close to y'alls heart?
Sean – This past Christmas, we traveled to the UK to present a check to Claire House. A children’s hospice charity. We released a song where all proceeds went to them, and I can’t tell you how special that was. We chose the British classic “Walking in the Air”. If you’ve never heard the song, and really want to check it out, please follow the provided link. It’s all set to the original children’s animated short from 1982 called “The Snowman”. We have already decided and are planning to do it again later this year by recording another charity single. Giving back is a great thing… the world needs more of it.
Here are two versions of “The Snowman” as recorded by AGENT COOPER.
Daniel Craig opens the video for us.
Scott - I would like to thank you for your time and candor with our loyal readers and keep on fighting the good fight to bring us some awesome music.
The pleasure was all mine! Anytime…… anytime…… Thank you so much for all of your kind words. It means more than you know.
If anybody wants to hear more songs or see some videos, I will provide a few links…
Sean B. Delson