INTERVIEW: Luke Gower (COG)
Live music has been a foreign concept for most of us in the past 12 months as the dreaded Coronavirus rampages on, leaving a sea of empty stages in its wake and bringing many industries entirely to their knees. But amongst the mayhem, it's also given pause to look closer to our own backyard in Australia, and one brainchild that is building to fruition after a year of solid planning is the inaugural edition of The Other Festival.
Presented by "Nobody Presents", with support from Roadsick Apparel, Cate Pepper Graphic Design, The Faction, Collision Course PR and cog band, The Other Festival is set to bring together a sweltering array of local Aussie heavy talent, taking over the illustrious Fortitude Music Hall in Brisbane for an amazing day of killer vibes on February 13. Boasting alt-rock icons Cog and Wolf & Cub as headliners, the day will also play host to:
THE ROADSICK MAIN STAGE
Wolf & Cub
The Atomic Beau Project
THE FACTION STAGE
From Crisis To Collapse
These Four Walls
Being Jane Lane
Free The Genie
With The Faction DJs spinning between sets on the mainstage, and Rock N Roll Yoga ready to help you expel the remnants of 2020, The Other Festival is the perfect way to kick into a new year. And while it's still a few weeks away until this event kicks off, come spend some time with Cog bass-man Luke Gower, chatting live shows, creativity and more. Interview below!
pic: Festive Solutions
TIANA SPETER: Hey, Luke, Tiana here, how's it going?!
LUKE GOWER: Tiana! Nice to hear your voice.
TIANA: You too, how's life going for you so far in 2021?
LUKE: Yeah good, good so far, we had a great break over Christmas so it was nice!
TIANA: Oh fab, I'm glad to hear it!
LUKE: What about you, good?
TIANA: Yeah, I picked the worst time ever to live on the Northern Beaches in Sydney over Christmas, but I got two weeks of not wearing shoes so...it could always be worse I figure!
LUKE: Yes, yes, and it's a nice part of the world down there, it's good!
TIANA: Yes! I know it's been a bit up and down all over the place still in this new year of ours...but it's extremely exciting to see the Cog name leading the pack of some awesome talent for The Other Festival next month...and I know you guys have snuck in a Goldy show as well...but how does it feel to finally be facing a festival and live music in general again? Cos I know you guys had bigger plans to do more shows around this festival hey?
LUKE: Yeah, yeah, we wanted to try and make the most of it, if we're gonna rehearse and take the time away from doing stuff with our family, I suppose we were trying to make it worth while for us, you know! But, it is what it is! And the other ones miss out unfortunately, but at least we get to sneak one in up in Burleigh, and then do this mini-festival thing. We've been trying to do that for ages, so that'll be exciting for it to come to fruition finally for us!
TIANA: It is really nice to see, I mean one of the side effects of all the madness has been that we have been able to focus more on local talent - and the lineup is pretty offensively awesome for this, and I haven't decided yet it I'm gonna have to send myself up in a guitar case in the mail if I have to if the borders still aren't open! But tell me, what can we expect from a 2021 Cog live show? Are there any sneaky surprises lying in wait next month?
LUKE: (laughs) Ahhh, I think you're just gonna have to wait and see for that!
TIANA: I knew you would say that, dammit!
LUKE: (laughs) Well, you gotta keep something up your sleeve don't ya! For us, we always treat our shows pretty seriously as a band I suppose, we always try and put a lot of effort in to rehearsing for one, and then getting awesome PAs and lights and stuff and try to make it interesting and the best it can be! I'd love to say that we'll be releasing an album or something, but I just don't have any news like that unfortunately (laughs).
TIANA: Look, a live show is news enough at this point in time. I feel like anything on top of that is a bonus from here!
LUKE: Yeah, that's right, that's right! I feel pretty fortunate that this is gonna go ahead. So fingers crossed nothing happens in between now and then, but yeah, I think it's a good opportunity for everyone to let their hair down a little bit, get out there and remember what they were missing out on. I mean, live music...I haven't seen a live gig in over a year now, so I'm extremely excited.
Cog onstage at The Tivoli//pic: Lachlan Douglas, someFX
TIANA: It's so bizarre isn't it, it's just something we were all doing so much of the time. But on the topic of a Cog live show, speaking on behalf of myself for a moment, I think it was back in 2019 - which currently feels like about a decade ago at this point. But, I think I caught you guys at least four or five times in a very short space of time, and it felt deadset like no time had passed since I saw you way back in 2009. But, is it still a special moment for you, jumping out onstage and connecting with your fans and playing these songs to a packed room? Is it still as special as it was back in those much earlier days?
LUKE: It is for me, I just like playing live! I think some musos, they kind of like the studio, and other musos tend to kind of swing towards more getting out there on the road and playing live shows. You know, I think as you get older touring changes. For us, it's not over ten weeks with 30 shows, we can't do that anymore with our families, you just can't put that pressure on your homestead and your loved ones. It's different for us, but that doesn't mean we don't enjoy it; we just do things a little bit differently these days, we tend to stick towards the Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth type of major capitals, and try to drive everyone to those shows. And it's better for everyone, really! You can't put the same show on that you do in Sydney that you would in Wollongong, you're not in that sized venue so you can't fit the same PA or the same amount of lights. And I think the atmosphere when you do have a thousand people at a show....one to two thousand, that kind of thing, I reckon it's the best because it's intimate enough, but it's also enough to get a really good vibe going without having, you know, like 50,000 at a stadium, that's a different ball game. But I still love it! I love playing live, I always have, and that hasn't changed too much.
TIANA: That's awesome, and I feel like the love is directed straight back to you, I mean you guys were selling out shows pretty much straight away on the reunion tour and those more recent shows...but I guess I'm kind of interested to know, have you found that your audience has evolved or changed at all after some time away? Do you look out into that usual sea of black t-shirts when you're onstage and find that there's maybe a new breed of Cog fan in the mix that sprung up during the hiatus?
LUKE: Yes! Surprisingly I have spotted a lot...well not a lot. But quite a few young people, which I suppose I just wasn't really...I don't know, I just think that our fans generally have grown up with us, and they're still coming! The same people that came to the first Cog show are still coming to the Cog shows now. It definitely makes me feel older (laughs). But seeing those younger faces is a great thing as well, you know, it means that they're looking out for new music...which is old music, I suppose? I don't know how to phrase that! But yeah, it's good mate, whoever wants to come and have a good time, that's the main thing!
Old School Cog//pic: Cog Instagram
TIANA: Actually funny you say that, I have to admit I've never had a bad time at a Cog show, not just onstage, but offstage too. There's something to be said for that, there's a nice little pocket with some really lovely fans!
LUKE: There is, there is! Yeah, I don't think we would really stand for that kind of stuff, most of the people that come to our shows know that people are there for a good time, and to enjoy themselves. I mean, I love to see people enjoying themselves and moving around and having a dance and doing it in their own way - but I think you mix that with a couple of dickheads with too much alcohol, and you're bound to get a couple of fuckwits in there aren't ya! And then they just ruin it for everyone! And I don't dig that, no one goes out to see a band and wants that anyway!
TIANA: Especially not now after such a long time of no gigs! I think we'll all hopefully enjoy it that little bit more, which is actually really exciting! I am so keen!
LUKE: Yes! Good, good stuff!
TIANA: As you mentioned, there isn't any news right now of "the album" or anything like that...but in terms of how you brought these more recent songs to life, with The Middle and Drawn Together and Altered States...did you guys actively go into this next phase and writing new material with a new lease on it all? Did any of your writing or creative processes change in the time you had away from it all?
LUKE: So, not really....I suppose this time round's been a bit different in the sense that we've had so much material from when we did Sharing Space that...a lot of it was just sitting there! And on top of that existing stuff, we were each compiling our own libraries of riffs and beats and vocal ideas and stuff like that. So, we put it all into a massive database or something, if you will. And we've been sifting through that, and we've been a bit more cutthroat with it, I think. You know, if we all like it, and we all think it's worth keeping, I suppose, or developing - we'll say yes. But if not, it just gets deleted, it just becomes too hard and you've gotta be kind of ruthless - ruthless with each other, but also ruthless with yourself, you can't hang onto it just cos you wrote it. But it's funny, the music we did like that...what you thought was kind of pretty good last year, you could just listen to it this year and go "actually, that's shit!!" (laughs) "That sucks, what was I thinking?!". So, there's oodles of material, but obviously with writing our songs, it just takes a little bit longer to write a Cog song I think (laughs).
Drawn Together (Cog)
TIANA: Is it nice to not have that looming expectation of "we have to build this towards an album"?
LUKE: I don't have any pressure, I don't put any pressure on my writing, and I never have. I don't think that's the way you should focus on it. A good time's a good time, you know? And you'll know it when you know it, if it's not ready - it's not ready! But you just gotta spend the time and make it the best you can.
TIANA: Very, very wise words, and I think that's also something that extends into a lot of things. To start to close us out today: as a man very heavily linked to the alternative and/or rock and roll world...tell me, these days, if you had an hour or so completely to yourself, bust out a glass or two of whiskey or whatever is your drink of choice, and listen to an album from start to finish...what would you pick up, and why?
LUKE: Ohhh, what drink? Or what album?
TIANA: Oh touche, good question! Let's go with both!
LUKE: These days it's probably a mid-strength beer to be honest (laughs). And what album....oh, that's a tough question. I'd say...Sugar Army, they've always been a favourite of mine...I can't think of the album, you've put me on the spot here (laughs).
TIANA: I absolutely have!
LUKE: You'd now the album, I think Sugar Army only released one album...they might've done an EP...it's got "she knows", that's in one of the songs.
TIANA: Wait, I'm looking this up as we speak. (furious typing sounds). Is it The Parallels Amongst Ourselves?
LUKE: Yes, that sounds right...and there's a song called something like "She Knows"?
TIANA: I found it! Tongues In Cheek!
LUKE: Yes! That's it! That's the one!
TIANA: Excellent, I'm going to steal this suggestion and listen to this tonight in honour of the upcoming Cog-fest we'll all be hopefully having next month!
LUKE: Do it, do it! Great band, great bunch of guys, such a good album.
TIANA: I'm so keen. Secretly, I usually ask that question to steal new music ideas for myself...but it's also nice to know what everyone is listening to in their down-time!
LUKE: Oh mate, it's a wide spectrum, believe me. There's so many! Every time I go round to my brother's house (Flynn Gower - Cog frontman and, of course, Luke's brother), he's listening to someone else, so he's good for that! He's more of a music librarian than I am, so I just go and steal all his!
TIANA: Story of my life, and that's also good to know, I'll hit him up next time I need to steal some music inspo!
LUKE: (laughs) Yeah, yeah, he finds it all, and I listen to it. It's great!
TIANA: I love it, that's the dream! Well, I know there were far bigger plans for Cog in the works, but for now it's so exciting to have some shows to look forward to in the not-too-distant future. Everyone's so stoked to come and see some live music, and have Cog and so many epic local bands for company. Thanks for chatting Luke!
LUKE: All right! Yes, sounds good! Hope to see you there.
THE OTHER FESTIVAL KICKS OFF ON SATURDAY FEBRUARY 13, WITH TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE. MORE INFO BELOW!
BY TIANA SPETER