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Everybody Wants To Know Where You’ve Been: An Interview With John Cooper of The Howls

The Howls bring an addictive energy to every set I’ve seen them play. Performing with established San Diego bands, their enthusiasm and unique sound garners them deserved attention, even upon a first listen. I’ve had the pleasure of dancing foolishly amidst their other fans at some of the best venues in town. And now they are gearing up to be part of a stellar line-up with Black Hondo and Transfer at the Casbah this Saturday May 5th (how else would you wanna spend Cinco de Mayo?) With the ability to rock hard on tunes like “Revival” and offer a tender delivery on songs like “All” The Howls are a band you don’t wanna miss. With my fan-girl questions before him, singer John Cooper offers a little peek at where the boys have been and where they’re headed. (And I may have insulted his fashion sense by accident.)

© Photo courtesy of Amber Martin – Find more at Amber Martin Art and Photography

1.How did The Howls get started and how long have you been rocking in San Diego

Been probably 3ish years. Started writing songs and found the only person I knew who played drums and coerced him to play the songs and slowly the rest of the guys fell into place. We’ve had the same line up for about a year now and it feels good.

2. Your band has a distinct rock sound tinged with a country vibe- do you feel it’s necessary to stick to a genre of music or do you feel free to try different musical styles? What are your favorite styles to play live?

People always want to put music in a box or put a label on it, so maybe from a marketing perspective it might be good to stick to one genre. We’re all into very different types of music and bands so why not explore those avenues? We’ve pretty much always been kind of all over the map with the songs we write so I don’t really get too worried about writing country songs or rock songs or even more random stuff. If it feels good, why not play it?

3. The fluorescent orange beanie- is there a special reason you wear it at every show?

Haha, poor planning? I guess I have worn it at a few shows in a row. I need to take my appearance more seriously.

I should have told him that orange is my favorite color…

4.What are some things you want people to know about The Howls that they wouldn’t get just from seeing a performance or listening to your tunes?

I’ve known Caleb, our bass player for a while, when he first got his driver’s license I was helping him parallel park and he pinned me between cars.

5. What role does social media play in promoting The Howls? Is your web presence something you put an effort into?

We definitely put some effort into it, not as much as others but this day and age you have to do something. The trick is to keep people in the know but not become that annoying friend everyone hides from their news feed on Facebook.

6. You’ve played with some influential San Diego bands- little hurricane, The Silent Comedy,  – which bands are you close to and how does that SD camaraderie mean to you?

Definitely pretty close with the boys in Silent Comedy. We’ve probably played 15-20 shows with them the last few years and created some pretty fun memories. It’s always fun when you have shows with bands your friends with and have history with, more fun to experience those fun times with friends.

7. What are your favorite songs to cover and is there any apprehension in doing cover songs as opposed to all original material?

We don’t really do covers as a band. Maybe somewhere down the line we’ll do something but for now we’re having fun playing songs off Rocky Ground and working out new songs. We’ll probably break out some Skrillex covers soon though, gotta give the people what they want.

8. Where do you draw inspiration and influence from in your sound? There are some religious themes that run through the songs on Rocky Ground – does spirituality influence your music in any way?

I’ll have to give the stock answer here and say it comes from all over. Lyrically I tend to write about whatever is going on in my life or head at a certain point in time. Songs about girls, faith, being poor, things friends are going through, what have you.

As for spirituality, I grew up pretty sheltered in a christian home so there’s definitely songs that I’ve written that relate to my own spiritual experience or journey. I think there’s a lot of people out there who can identify with being told something your whole life and coming to a point where you have to figure out what you believe for yourself.

9. What is your song-writing process? Do you write all the lyrics or is there a collaborative effort made by the band to create your music?

Typically I’ll write a song with a general structure and all of the lyrics then I’ll take it to the rest of the guys and let them rip it apart and rearrange it till we settle on something we all feel good about.

10. What’s up next for The Howls and your orange beanie?

Got some real fun shows booked for the summer, been writing a lot of new songs even tracked a few already… Just keep doing what we’ve been doing. I’ll probably have to burn the orange hat.

11. Last but not least, the Five S’s of Sounds in San Diego 

Sound You Love: Sara Watkins‘ voice.

Sound You Hate: Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Spot in San Diego You Have to See: It’s a secret.

San Diego Band You’re a Fan Of: Does Writer still count?

Song That Makes You Smile: Wouldn’t It Be Nice- Beach Boys

“I think there’s a lot of people out there who can identify with being told something your whole life and coming to a point where you have to figure out what you believe for yourself.”

For more fun with The Howls, follow them on Twitter, keep up-to-date on Facebook and find their music and more on their website. And don’t miss the fiesta this Saturday at the Casbah with The Howls, Transfer and Black Hondo.

For more interviews, song obsessions, and musical musings with Sounds in San Diego follow along on Facebook or get tweety with me on Twitter.


About Jen Van Tieghem

There aren’t many things I love more than music. While life spins away at a rapid beat I’ve realized it’s important to spend it doing what I love – enjoying music in San Diego. I have a handful of favorite venues, a heart full of favorite bands, and decided to write about it.

One comment on “Everybody Wants To Know Where You’ve Been: An Interview With John Cooper of The Howls

  1. […] Everybody Wants To Know Where You’ve Been: An Interview With John Cooper of The Howls – Cooper’s candid answers made me laugh and learn- high-five-worthy. […]


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