Growing up in the shadow of his father, Alice Cooper, Dash Cooper knows a thing or two about classic rock.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be music that is dated or tired. It can be refreshed with touches of metal and good, old rock ‘n’ roll.
That’s what Dash Cooper and his band CO-OP focused on while recording their self-titled debut full-length album, which is due in stores June 15 on the EMP Label Group. Cooper’s vocals take timeless classic rock undertones and mix them with the grit of modern hard rock and melodic hooks over a bottom-heavy foundation.
“I’ve always been into classic rock with my dad and listening to all the classic rock bands,” says Cooper, during an interview at his father’s home.
“As I progressed in my musical career, I started to really like that harder rock, that more modern sound. I still hold really tight to that classic rock sound, so we blended those together.”
CO-OP will celebrate the album’s release with a party at Club Red in Mesa on Saturday, June 16.
“Fans can expect a dirty, gritty rock show,” Cooper says. “We call ourselves ‘desert hard rock,’ it’s a modern feel with a classic rock edge.”
No strangers to performance, CO-OP—which also features guitarist Jeremy Tabor, bassist Justin Swartzentruber and drummer Nick Spann—quickly amassed a following in the Valley. Within a few years, the band shared the stage with Motley Crue, The Hollywood Vampires (featuring Alice Cooper, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Johnny Depp) and Kiss.
Some of those musicians make guest appearances on the collection. Alice Cooper lends his vocals to “Old Scratch,” while Perry provided guitarist on “Howl.” “N.O.W.,” one of the first singles, landed on Mediabase’s national classic rock chart.
“I was talking to my dad’s guitar player and said Joe was really big into the song,” Cooper says about “Howl,” which was scheduled to hit radio the first week of June.
“He wanted the song early, so he could prewrite something. I thought that was really cool. I thought he’d come in and wing it, but he wanted to listen to it for a day or two.
“Plus, since he’s been in the Vampires, we’ve been pretty close. He’s been interested in CO-OP, so I said I had a great song for him. He said, ‘Absolutely.’ I didn’t know it was going to be that easy.”
CO-OP’s music has grabbed the attention of others in the industry as well. Thom Hazaert and Valley resident/Megadeth bassist David Ellefson heard it and signed CO-OP to EMP Label Group. They released their debut EP in 2017.
“Alice Cooper took Megadeth out on our first big tour, and we’ve always had a great relationship,” Ellefson says. “Alice wrote the foreword to my book, My Life with Deth. So, it’s been really exciting to be able to bring that relationship full circle and work with Dash and CO-OP, who have grown into an incredible rock band.”
CO-OP’s lineup has changed throughout the year, but everybody’s contributions were taken seriously for the album.
“It’s a conglomeration of everybody’s thoughts and feelings,” Cooper says. “I’m already working on the follow-up album.”
That collaborative spirit will continue between Cooper, Spann, Tabor and Swartzentruber.
The Ohio-born Tabor brings a blues background to CO-OP, having played with Robert Johnson’s stepson in Cleveland.
‘I had been playing bass maybe two months—and I was 14,” he says with a laugh. “We immediately clicked and I did that for a few months. Then, I started branching out into the heavy metal community.
“I moved here when I was 20 and switched over to guitar and made that my focus.”
He joined The Sammus Theory and toured with it for eight years, playing festivals like Uproar, and then Buried as Thieves.
“I learned what works and what doesn’t work,” Tabor says. “It gave me a chance to make connections.
“Once I heard last summer that CO-OP was looking for a new guitarist, I jumped on it and the rest is history.”
Swartzentruber began his career in his mid-teens, playing in church. Soon, he met like-minded musicians and performed with a handful of bands before moving to Arizona from Springfield, Missouri. He was working at Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center when one of the kids there told him about his friend’s band needing a bassist. Swartzentruber called and Cooper gave him three songs to learn.
Swartzentruber didn’t expect the music to be “so cool.”
Outside of band pursuits, CO-OP has often put its skills to work helping raise funds for Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center, which has often brought with it opportunities to perform as a back-up band along with other philanthropic volunteers such as Alex Lifeson (Rush), Danny Seraphine (Chicago), Don Felder (Eagles) and Tommy Thayer of Kiss.
Cooper’s father has been a big influence in his life, but CO-OP is going about its career on its own terms. There’s just one piece of advice the musicians take to heart.
“I always tell people the best advice he ever gave me was to be polished and rehearsed all the time; be the best version of yourself on stage,” Cooper says.
“As always, our music is just powerful and it’s really heavy. It’s classic rock with a modern feel. It’s music people haven’t heard in a long time. Listeners have been receptive to it.”
CO-OP w/Shinshrift, Paranova, Riot/Gear, Underwater Time Machine, Club Red, 1306 W. University Drive, Mesa, clubredrocks.com, 6 p.m. Saturday, June 16, $10-$13.