At age 22, Texas singer, songwriter and guitarist JOHNNY COOPER is already a well-traveled musician, having released two albums--with 2007's IGNITION selling over 25,000 copies--and performed over 1,000 shows, averaging 200 a year.
His new album FOLLOW (Tenacity Records) is an evocative blend of soul, blues, rock and pop that's exemplified by the first single "Bring Me Down." Over the song's deep groove and buzzing guitars, COOPER lays down the law:
"You say my music's got too much edge
Well hell yeah, that's how I was taught
Screaming guitars and people up on the bars
That's the way we like to rock
For some reason you'll always look at me
Just like I'm a kid
Why you creeping around out back
Watching every little thing I did"
The disc expands on the style for which COOPER became known--"red dirt," a Texas and Oklahoma southern rock, country and blues hybrid--and was produced by Glenn Rosenstein and Dexter Green. Rosenstein has either produced or co-produced such artists as Ziggy Marley, Jill Sobule and Michelle Shocked and engineered songs by James Brown, Talking Heads and Sting. Green's credits include co-writing and producing the Collective Soul 2004 hit "Better Now."
"Well, it still is 'red dirt,' it still is rock, it still is funk, pop, Texas country, R&B, it is still more than anything, me," explains COOPER about FOLLOW.
Gifted with a rich emotive voice that illuminates his lyrics, COOPER says the disc "is another chapter of my life, every song is a short snippet of all the things I have encountered in the past few years, good times...bad times...and everything in between. I believe the music has evolved because I have evolved...the older you get the less and less you are scared to try new things, branch out and test your limits. Most importantly this record was a team effort. The producers and musicians had a huge role, something just clicked when we all were together. The talent of everyone who played on the record naturally made the music come alive."
The blues-influenced pop-rock blend on "Bring Me Down," the album's first single, was written by COOPER "about some folks who forgot the reason why you play music," he says. "It's a musical sucker-punch to people who don't do things for the right reason." Other album stand-outs include "Crazy," "Take Your Number" and the soul-powered opening track, "Don't Feel Like That Anymore."
In his five years as a professional musician, COOPER has garnered a large following in his home state of Texas and neighboring Oklahoma. His first album, LIVE AT THE PUB, was voted "Best Live CD in 2006" and Texas Entertainer of the Year (2006 & 2007) in the Payne County Line Oklahoma Music Awards; 2007's IGNITION sold over 25,000 copies and resulted in four songs ("Texas To You," "Let It Ago," "Devil Woman" and "Nothing At All") climbing the Texas Music Charts. His MySpace page has over two million plays and a million views.
COOPER is proud of the new record and sound. "I believe what people hear on the album they also want to hear live. The cool part about our live show is it is always evolving. We played the majority of these songs live for a couple of months before we recorded them and that's when you really work out all the kinks and develop the song to what you hear now on the albumâ€¦the building process is the most fun."
COOPER has practically grown up on-stage and that's where he will remain throughout the rest of the year because that's what he truly loves.
"Our goal is to make you forget about everything else and just cut loose for a couple hours."