COHEED AND CAMBRIA
ZACH COOPER HAD BEEN STUDYING CLASSICAL UPRIGHT BASS FOR
over a year when he got a call from his producer friend asking him if he’d be interested in
trying out for a progressive-rock band. When Cooper learned the band was Coheed and
Cambria, he dropped everything and scheduled an audition. While it seemed like an unlikely
leap to go from bowing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 to shredding post-hardcore riffs, it was
the audition process itself that Cooper found more unlikely than anything.
“I had just heard two short clips of songs played acoustically beforehand. When I got
to the studio for the audition, I thought I’d be playing with the band, but instead they put
on newer versions of the songs and I had to play to
them with everyone standing around staring at me.
It was very intense.”
Cooper nailed the tryout, and a mere two days
later he was already in the studio recording songs
for the band’s double album, The Aftermath: Ascension
& Descension. The result is a diverse array of
bass that varies from fast and heavy to moody and
spacey. His upright even makes an appearance on two
tracks, though his playing on it is far from classical.
Was it difficult walking into a band that’s been
together for nearly 18 years?
It was, but it wasn’t. It was because these guys
have so much history and have done so much together,
and original drummer Josh Eppard came back, so
it was a lot at once. They’ve been incredible about
making me feel like a member of their family, and
more than anything, an important part of the team.
Did you have free rein to write on this
I had a ton of freedom. They encouraged me to
play things as I heard them, and they wanted my individual
voice on the record. At some points, I toned
down things in a way I might not have if I were more
comfortable. On a couple songs, I didn’t know what
they were looking for conceptually, so I’d go to them
and they would dish out some ideas.
Did you feel any pressure to replicate Mic
Todd, whose position you’ve replaced?
I was a fan of the band before all of this happened,
so part of me wanted to emulate Mic’s playing.
I was definitely conscious of it, but I seemed to
stick with my own style. Some of the ways he plays
isn’t my strong suit, so I probably wouldn’t have
played like that regardless.
How did you achieve your tone?
They took three signals from me for this record.
I used an Ampeg SVT head in the studio into an old
Ampeg 8x10 and miked it. They took the DI out of
the head, and then split it to one clean signal and
one distorted one.
What techniques did you use?
I’ve always been strictly a finger player, but
“Goodnight Fair Lady” was the first time in my life
I tracked with a pick. I’ve always liked pickstyle players,
but I was really out of my comfort zone. When
I grab a pick it feels foreign, and my shoulders and
arms tense up. But it definitely enhanced the song
and made me play a lot simpler than I usually do, in
an eighth-note sort of way.
Coheed and Cambria,
& Descension [Hundred
Basses Fender American
Bass, Fender Highway
One Precision Bass,
Fender Standard Jazz
Bass V, Christopher
Rig Fender TB-1200
head, Fender Pro
Series 810 cab
Strings DR Strings