By Jon Milton
In our first interview of this series, I spoke with Oli Burslem of Yak, who first bought the band Modern Nature to my attention through a series of posts about their single 'Footsteps' on his social media account last year.
Having heard 'Footsteps', I listened to, and fell in love with, the band's debut album 'How to Live' and have followed them ever since. Their second album 'Annual' was released a couple of weeks ago and is, like its predecessor, a thing of beauty with its seven songs capturing various moods and emotions across the four seasons of the year.
Modern Nature main man Jack Cooper originally emerged from the indie rock scene with Mazes and Ultimate Painting, and his latest project embraces folk, jazz, krautrock, indie and more. I caught up with him just before the album launched to talk through the role that music has played in his life.
How did you first get into music, and what were your early influences?
I don't remember a time when I wasn't fascinated by music. I wake up everyday thinking about it.
How did you get into playing / writing music yourself?
I'd briefly had classical guitar lessons when I was about 10 but I think the thing that sparked me picking up the guitar again was watching the Isle Of Wight documentary with my Dad when I was 13... specifically Jimi Hendrix. He got the guitar out of the loft for me the next day and I took it from there. When I was 17 I bought myself a Tascam 4-track inspired by a lot of the American music I was listening to at the time.
What was the first gig you went to?
I think it was the Levellers in Blackpool... technically Chumbawumba, as they were supporting. This is before their hit but I didn't have a clue who either band was.
What was the first record you bought?
The first album I bought with my own money was Michael Jackson's Bad and then 'With The Beatles'.
How have you discovered and explored different genres of music?
I don't know... following trails from other music. I was a obsessed with The Stone Roses as a 13 year old and found out about Public Enemy through them, Isaac Hayes, 13th Floor Elevators. From Jimi Hendrix, it's just a short step to Bitches Brew and then that whole world is there.
Do you go through phases of listening to different music genres, or just dip in and out?
Yeah I very much have phases and obsessions. At the moment I've been listening to a lot of British jazz and folk from the very late sixties/early seventies. Not a specific group or genre, but I seem to be after a particular feel and tone.
How have different artists/genres of music influenced the way that you play and write your own music
In infinite ways... it's impossible to calculate ha.
Do you have any pin ups or artists you consider to be musical icons? Who are they?
Hundreds... Miles Davis, Mark Hollis, Bill Orcutt, Nick Drake, Don Cherry
Have you modelled yourself on any of your heroes, in the way you perform live, or play an instrument, or sing?
I mean... probably! I remember my guitar playing seemed to change quite a lot after I started listening to Asa Osborne from Lungfish
Is there one song by another artist that you’d wished you’d written, and if so what is it and why?
Organ Harvest by Lungfish... It's perfect
You can listen to/buy 'Annual' and 'Footsteps' here