My Interview with Jim Coleman ( ex Cop Shoot Cop and Phylr)

1.First off, words cannot even express what kind of fan of yours I am. What inspired you to be a musician? What was your first musical memory, that inspired this career path for you?

I remember being a kid and wanting to be a musician, that’s always been with me. I see so many people struggle with what they want to do, what their passion is. I have never had that issue. Luckily my parents forced me in to being classically trained as a kid. I wouldn’t say I really enjoyed that, but it gave me a good foundation for working with sound and music. I always remember sitting at the piano, having to learn to play Bach (which I actually like), but all I really wanted to be doing was making up my own songs and progressions. So now that’s what I do.

2.Looking back today do you think Cop Shoot Cop made a big mistake going from a indie label to Interscope records?

I don’t think the problem had to do with signing to Interscope. I think that we made some mistakes while under that umbrella though. When we recorded, we ended up doing lock outs at high end studios, whereas we could have spent more time and maybe gone further in the recordings working with Dave Sardi or Martin Bisi in their studios. Interscope kind of left us alone to do what we wanted. This was great on one hand, but on the other hand, there wasn’t a committed partnership. At the end of the day, though, the reality is that Cop self destructed

3.Do you think Cop Shoot Cop was the blue print for these corporate labels to market bands like Rage Against the Machine and System of a Down? Also, how influencial do you think your band was in this politcally heavy musical message?

I don’t see CSC as being the blueprint. Cop didn’t end up bringing Interscope any income, so no corporate label would look to this for a way to make things work. As far as messaging: I think the anger and venom, the “we’re not going to take it” attitude of Cop was initially at least very strong. Many people first knew the name from all the graffiti covering NYC, particularly the Lower East Side. There was such a great atmosphere of anarchy and possibility then. NYC was not a big shopping mall, unless you were shopping for a fix. Coming out of this, a band like Cop could have a voice and be heard. I’m sure that this must be possible on some level today, but it feels like NYC has become complacent. It’s easier to dislike something on facebook than it is to go set something on fire or poster all over downtown.

4.How does a record label look at the album art work for Ask Questions Later and then listen to your finished product and not want you to commericalize it? This cd is a marketing nightmare in terms of a hit single on radio. I mean you open the cd with a song about the government lying, it does not get any more anti than that.

When we were with Interscope we were a bit under the radar there. As I mentioned, they let us do what we wanted, but we weren’t really a priority to them. Anna Statman was the crazy free thinking A&R person there who signed us. This almost didn’t happen. Apparently she called Natz (low end bass player), but Natz never passed the info on to the rest of the band. So Anna tracked us down when we were playing in Austin Texas as SXSW, right as we were about to do something with Touch and Go. Anyway, we did have some publicists working for us, but we weren’t getting pushed by Interscope to change our sound. There was some talk about changing the name, but it just seemed lame. Somehow being named Cop didn’t resonate like Cop Shoot Cop.

5.Do you think the message in songs like Surprise, Surprise was lost on a MTV/grunge generation of music fans?

I think the whole “grunge” movement made it possible for us, and bands like us, to get signed to major labels at that time. Nirvana opened up so much for so many musicians, listeners, people in and out of the music industry. Their music still rocks it, I still see high school kids wearing Nirvana T shirts. Like Led Zepplin, there is just an enduring truth there.

Cop wasn’t a grunge band obviously, and we didn’t really fit in to the primetime slots on MTV. Somehow we got on Top 40 radio in some parts of the US and in the UK, but otherwise it was the late night MTV shows.

I do think people were more connected to the music than the message, but at some point they are inseparable. And on some level, I don’t even care. If someone just gets off on the music, that’s a great thing!

6.In 2012, could there be a Cop Shoot Cop reunion? Do you still talk to Tod Ashley and the guys? Puleo would you leave your gig with The Swans if Coleman says yes?

I can’t see any imminent reunion. Maybe if we end up in the same old age home 40 years from now. I would like to make the older recordings available. Currently the album are hard to find and can be rather expensive.

7.You are widely known as one of the first bands and probably only bands I know to use a dual bass, dual sampler and no guitars. What made you guys want to incorporate a guitar into the final record Release?

We brought on Steve McMillen to tour on Ask Questions later, and he stayed on to help make Release. He was playing guitar, a secondary drum kit and trumpet. Guitar eased in to the mix kind of organically, as our sound evolved.

8.Then came this ambitious solo project Phylr, you were signed to Atkins label Invisible Records. As groundbreaking as Cop Shoot Cop was for its time, the same arguement can be made for Pigface. How was it to work with Martin Atkins? Did he influence this direction you took with this project?

The first Phylr album, Contra la Puerta, was basically finished by the time Martin heard it. So I found an outlet for this on Invisible, but Martin didn’t have any influence on the sound, nor did I really work with him directly. I did tour with Pigface for a couple of weeks, which was one of the worst experiences of my life. Luckily I bailed before the entire tour got detained by the Canadian health officials for having an outbreak of Viral Meningitus.

9.When people describe your music, you know they list the references like recipes. So this is what I will call Jim thinks. You give us what you think about these people, and if you need to talk smack. Please do…you are Jim Coleman

a.Brian Eno:

I have only good thoughts about Brian Eno. I’ve never personally met him. He seems kind of mythical to me (might become more human if I ever met the man). Such a pioneer, he influenced so much of what we hear in so many genres today. He was very influential to me, I spent many long nights listening to Music for Films and Music for Airports.


Portishead brings me back to bohemian coffee shops in the early 1990’s. I like them well enough, but I always felt like I should like them more than I actually do. Their music is nicely crafted and emotional, but it seems overly considered…

c.Pop will Eat Itself

Enough said

d.Rage Against the Machine
It made me happy that they could find mainstream success with their sound and their overt political viewpoint. Gave me some faith in the world. And I liked the music. But I could never listen to a complete album in one sitting.

e.Pink Floyd
Another memory I have is listening to Floyd after smoking some authentic Thai stick. I was on a bed, but started hallucinating that I was lying in a field, watching grids of flying turtles fly above me. I never lived and breathed Floyd like some people, but I dug them well enough. Listening to them now, as with many bands, it’s a nostalgia trip, filled with memories.

10.Trees is your latest cd, let’s be honest like Cop Shoot Cop this cd sounds nothing like anything out right now, what was the inspiration for this cd?

TREES started out as an antithesis to the way I was currently making music, and the way I was living. The Phylr stuff is generally very beat oriented and electronic. I was interested in doing something distinctly different, more organic, more meditative. On some level I was also interested in trying to calm things down in my life, reduce stress and anxiety. I’m still making harder, beat driven tracks, but found I need an antidote.

11.Someone who never heard your music before wants to know, how do you describe your sound? What would you say?

Although my music varies quite a bit, there are a few words that could be used across the board. Cinematic, emotional. Somehow, cinema and music have always felt closely aligned to me. Before really getting in to music, I went through film school and was making experimental films and videos. This is actually something that I’ve started up again recently. The processes can be similar, but in both, the success of a particular endeavor is dependent on pacing, rhythm, timing, space and breath.

12.What was the last cd you went out first day of release and had to buy? Also, beside anything you worked on with your 500 side gigs, what is the greatest cd of all time to you?

I’m not sure I can honestly answer either of those questions. I get to be pretty schizophrenic in my tastes (and when I dj). So it might be easier to just give you a list of what I’ve been listening to lately:
– Skull Defekts: Peer Amid
– Snowman: The Horse, The rat, and the Swan
– Omar Soleyman: Haflat Gharbia
– Fear: The Record
– Bombay Bicycle Club: How can you swallow so much sleep (remixes)
– Jeff the Brotherhood: Various albums
– Zoe Keating: Into the Trees
– The Black Dog: Music for Real Airports
– Plus occasional immersions in some of the heavier hip hop and drum and bass stuff

13.You are at a cd signing, ( Jim these things never go well) and your most die hard fan comes up to you and says they love you and all that insane stuff people say, and they pull out an illegal burn of your cd and ask you to sign it. What would you do?

At this point in time and in my career, I wouldn’t much care. I’d sign it. If someone is in to the music, it’s all good. I’m not going to take any high moral ground. I buy most of my music and all my software, but I can’t say I never downloaded music through limewire. And the rules of the game have changed so much. I was watching some youtube video this morning that used to have an Arcade Fire song on it, but it was muted due to lack of rights. But the reality is, people who would not have otherwise heard the Arcade Fire, could have gotten turned on to their music but now they don’t have the chance. Especially with youtube, the audio quality is so piss poor, it’s not like someone is going to slap that on their ipod instead of getting the actual song. I think the more that you can get music out there the better. But that’s just me. I’m not U2, I’m not totally dependent on record sales. So I have a freedom that they don’t have. How do you like them apples, Bono?

14.Do you think “our” government is doing all they can like they claim they are to stop illegal downloading?

I’m not sure. The record labels and some of the artists totally fucked up by demonizing the very people who were listening to their music. But how do you do it the right way? I don’t advocate locking up people who are downloading. You can make it very difficult to do P2P file sharing, but there will always be open channels.

15.America right now is in a financial crisis, and jobs are scarce, should we legalize marijuna and tax it?

Yes, totally. This country should either get over it’s hang ups regarding bud or tighten it’s puritanical sphincter and make alcohol, cigarettes and energy drinks illegal as well. It makes no sense that pot is illegal when alcohol is legal. Legalizing and taxing pot would put this country back on it’s feet again in less that 30 minutes.

16.Do you think bands like Joy Division, Ramones and Blondie among others could be successful if they were just starting out today?

It’s so hard to say. And what would the music landscape be like now if those bands weren’t around then? I’d be different if there hadn’t been a Joy Division. When I heard them, I felt like I had found a home. They made me feel not so alone. And there are several semi successful bands out now that are cut from the same cloth. Would the Beatles and the Stones had a chance in today’s climate? What would Hendrix sound like if he was alive and making music today? How would Lady gaga have been received in 1964?

17.What would be the perfect tour for you?

An ongoing series of high paying gigs in interesting locales around the world. Non-traditional venues (churches, grottos, train stations, warehouses, fields). Really good sound systems. Local participation and collaboration, whether that is bringing in come local musicians, video talent, artists… And some time between gigs to see where I am. I toured for years, which was awesome, but for all the places I have been, it was basically a succession of night clubs.

18.Do you think today’s Jim Coleman could have made a cd like Ask Questions Later? And also on the flip side, do you think the Jim Coleman then, could have made Trees?

I could not have made TREES any earlier in my life. This album is definitely from this particular time. I still have the angst and fire in me that was such a part of AQL. But that album was the particular blend of all the personalities of Cop. Everyone is in there. I am currently working on some sound collage type stuff that comes from the same stock as some of the tracks on Ask Questions Later (Israeli Dig, Seattle, hidden track)

19.Are you a fan of things like social media, and itunes?

A few friends of mine have been addictively swept up in to Facebook and the like. Though I’m on Facebook, I can’t recall the last time I checked it. To me, it’s more like anti-social media. Where’s the social part of it? Sort of like a “Peacekeeping Mission”. Coming out of the days of King Bush the 2nd, it’s become the norm to call things the opposite of what they really are, and nobody seems bothered.
I do think iTunes has nailed the purchasing and distribution of Music, TV and Movies in a way that no one else has. They kind of buried the record companies. I’m always surprised when I see brick and mortar Music stores now.
Spotify also seems to have a viable model for music, seems like they are growing like crazy!
But of course, nothing beats vinyl.

20.You have also worked with another legend, Foetus. He has worked with quite the resume of people from Lydia Lunch to you. Quite the contrast. How was working with J.G.?

I have a longstanding friendship with JG. Working together was great. We kind of pushed each other in ways that were unique. That’s the beauty in any collaboration, really. Our only release was on vinyl on Nail Records out of Italy. We have talked about taking it further, but it hasn’t happened to date. That’s more likely than a CSC reunion though.

21.What is the current touring plans? Music video?

I haven’t set up a tour. I’m open to the idea, but for now it’s more likely to be a show here, a show there kind of thing. I have been working on some video stuff for other projects. It’s probably a good idea to do a video for a TREES track. Thanks for the reminder, I’ll get on that right now.

22.Well, this was so much fun. This is your chance to plug away tell people how to reach you and what is going on? Thanks so much…

Yes, thanks for the questions. And if you are reading, thanks for taking the time! By all means, I encourage communication. Feel free to get in touch, and check out the site, blog, soundcloud, all that stuff. Here’s the info:

Jim Coleman