Monday, July 18, 2011

Interview with Jordan Cooper of Revelation Records

Anybody who listens to hardcore or Straight Edge music should know about Revelation Records. Jordan Cooper and Ray Cappo of Youth of Today (and other bands) started Revelation a long time ago when my dad was not old. Now they have about 150 records they have put out! Jordan was one of the donors for my school fundraiser last year, giving us a bunch of test presses! He was really nice and let me interview him. I hope you enjoy!!!!

PMAKid: What are your three favorite songs (by any bands)? Why are they your favorite and what impact did they have on you?

Jordan: That's a tough question to answer at this point in my life. When I was young I really tried to identify myself by what I listened to so it might have been easier then. A lot of the hardcore that I really liked had more to do with the energy and sound of the songs than the message. On some of my favorite songs I had no idea what the bands were talking about (e.g. Coptic Times by Bad Brains and Hybrid Moments by the Misfits - still not sure what that one's about). Obviously a lot of what hardcore is about what's actually being said so I did have a lot of stuff that I liked as far as that went, too. Without racking my brain too hard, I remember that Filler by Minor Threat was a song that I felt like I understood and related to the first time I heard it. Same with FVK by Bad Brains. DRI also had a lot of great songs about being a suburban punk that seemed like they could have been talking about my friends and me. When I first started liking hardcore I took it really seriously and then once I started going to shows I really started to like the funnier bands like AOD, Violent Children and bands like that. There aren't any specific songs that I can point to that really influenced me, but taken as a whole, the music, the people and the experience of being at shows and other places together and caring about a lot of the same stuff was how hardcore impacted me.

PMAKid: What are your three favorite books? Why are they your favorite and what impact did they have on you?

Jordan: The Lord of the Rings books are some of my favorite fiction books. I really loved the line where Gandalf says to Frodo something like "Don't be quick to take the life of someone who doesn't deserve to live because you can't return life to those who have had theirs taken from them unjustly." The Trial by Franz Kafka was also a great book and was important for me because it was the first time I noticed that great writing sometimes can be separate from the story line and just bring a moment to you in a really clear way. I also really enjoyed Last of the Mohicans.

PMAKid: Last year, you were nice and donated some auction items that helped my school raise a few thousand dollars. Some of that money helped to pay for my school band teacher. How important do you think it is for music to be taught in schools? Especially at the elementary school level for kids like me?

Jordan: Learning to read and play music seems like it would be a good way to develop kids' thinking and appreciation of music and other things. Art, too.

PMAKid: I think you are the main owner of Revelation Records, right? How did you come to start the record label? I know that you started it with Ray of Today.

Jordan: Ray and I met in high school and became friends. Like a lot of people who listened to hardcore, I was looking for a way to get involved. I tried out for bands, contributed to some fanzines, but it turned out that starting the label was what would end up working out for me. The way it started was that Ray and I talked about putting out a record for Warzone and Ray knew Raybeez from that band and made it happen (along with a bunch of other records after that).

PMAKid: What is your favorite Revelation Records release?

Jordan: I'd feel weird naming any of the records as favorite. There are a lot of bands that were brought to Revelation by people other than me and a lot that I talked to for the label and I still listen to a lot of them from either category. I did the layout for a lot of the releases and one that comes to mind right now as a lot of fun to work on was Farside "Rigged". The band had the cover finished on their own, so I didn't have to think about that at all. For the rest of it, they had these great ideas and great photos and they gave them to me and told me how to put it together and they seemed to like how it came out.

Gorilla Biscuits - Start Today
PMAKid: How many records has Revelation released and what is the best selling release that you have done?

Jordan: We've done about 150 releases. Gorilla Biscuits "Start Today" has been Revelation's best seller for a long time.

PMAKid: In the hardcore music scene, people know a lot about the bands because of their songs and stuff. But I bet most people know very little about you. Are you straight edge (even if you do not use the term, like Ian MacKaye and Kevin Seconds)?

Jordan: It feels like I've done a lot of interviews and people are usually pretty happy to talk to me about music if they find out that I have a label, but you're right, it's not like being in a band. No, I'm not straight edge. Straight edge seems like it's a really good thing for a lot of people, but I've never used the term for myself. From my understanding, Ian and a lot of the other people who were around in the early 80s used the idea to say that they didn't want the self destructive drug abuse behavior they saw in the scene for themselves. For most of my friends, the drinking and drug use we saw usually wasn't on that level. At the time I started going to shows, it seemed that people talked a lot about straight edge as a way to keep yourself from masking reality with drugs, to really be "awake." I think that a person's reality can be clouded even without drugs and that a lot of people struggle to see clearly even if they're straight edge.

PMAKid: When something bad happens, how do you stay positive?

Jordan: I'm pretty stubborn, but assuming that the bad thing that happened can't be fixed or reversed, I usually just try to figure out what I need to do next and move on. If it's something like a death or something that you can't help but think about all the time, I just try to keep it in my mind so that I don't walk around bummed not realizing why or letting myself forget about it and then have the negative shock of remembering it.

PMAKid: Do you have kids of your own? Even if you don't have kids, what are your feelings about public school education here in California? My school has had a lot of budget cuts and we have a lot of students in my classroom. Do you think schools need more money, or just do a better job teaching?

Jordan: I don't have any kids, so my only experience with school was from when I went there myself. The public schools in New York and Connecticut that I went to were really good from what I remember. There was the usual social pressure to blow off school and not care, but if you wanted to learn something, I think you could. I hear a lot about the funding problems and the low test scores on the news, but I don't really know what needs to be done. I'm sure it's a combination of things including better funding that would be needed to improve things.

PMAKid: What is your favorite thing about running Revelation Records?

Jordan: In a lot of ways I really don't like "running" it because there's so much tedious crap to do like accounting and dealing with insurance and the usual business stuff. The fun part is being able to work with people and artists that I really like. It's still fun when something new comes in and you get to look at it/listen to it.

Past Present - Revelation Record's 150th Release.
PMAKid: How do you choose a new band for Revelation Records?

Jordan: In the early days, the bands we put out were usually the ones that we saw regularly at local shows and/or that Ray or I were friends with. Later on, Revelation worked with a some bands that came to us through friends of friends (like Texas Is The Reason, Inside Out or Farside) or bands that formed from earlier bands that we knew or worked with (e.g. Quicksand, Into Another, Shelter). Sometimes a band that was on the label would recommend a band to us that they saw while on tour (that's how we first heard about Elliott). In general, regardless of who is talking to bands here it seems like it's a decision made when someone's personal taste coincides what seems like it would work for the label.

PMAKid: Have you ever had a band that you wish was on Revelation?

Jordan: There have been a lot of bands that we tried to work with that decided to go with other labels (or just release their music on their own) over the years, but no one in particular comes to mind. There are a lot of bands that I really like that are already on other labels too.

1 comment:

(Noting that this site is primarily run by a kid, his parents ask you to keep profanity and offensive commentary out of your posts.)