Music [Talk] with Roger Cole

The progression of instruments, all the craziness that I  play, actually started off with the  piano, keyboards and stuff like that when I was a little kid for no real reason - it just made sense to me so I played around with it.  I also had a lot of relatives that played guitars and acoustic guitars at family weekend get-togethers and those types events.  That was always interesting.  It’s was  really always  more about writing for me, so every time I would learn one thing on one instrument, I would try to apply it to another so you get different textures and the ideas out of your head.  With pianos I got pretty decent at making a mess for a while and then decided I wanted to learn more…the basics of it.  One of my cousins had a country band and their keyboard player, Bob Tatro, was a very talented, schooled musician, so he came over once a week for a little while.  He showed me a lot of the foundations and enabled me to grow in that way.  With drums and percussion I started studying that under a teacher named Ron Russo, in grammar school.  He was a great teacher and musician.  I started to apply one to the other, you know…the more I was able to do on a guitar the stronger my left hand became on a piano.  The more I was able to do on a piano, the more control I had with my right hand on the guitar.  And the drums and percussion really helped independent timings and synchronization, the ability to put stuff together.  Bass came along as a necessary evil - just trying to get the material I had in my head out on tape, so I started playing that as well.  It’s really just one or the other.  Realizing that it takes a lifetime to learn one instrument half way, you try to spend time on every instrument every day in order to keep them all rolling forward. 

It’s always just kind of made sense to me.   When I sit down with an instrument and hit a couple notes, it starts to come together.  Eventually I wind up writing with that instrument as well, which is great.  Other things, like trying to get certain sounds, different approaches - if you play one thing on the guitar it’s not going to be the same approach like on a piano, or a bass, or anything else for that matter.  So you get different textures and the ability to round out your writing process.  It really makes things more interesting, for me, anyways.

It’s not just instruments that you can write with.  If you hit your dishes for a little while with your silverware before your parents yelled at you, that can be percussive and musical and fun.  Pretty much everywhere you go there is something that can make sound.  Case in point,    when me & Paul were doing the “Nova Train” record, the percussion track for ‘Pumpin’ the A’ was a washing machine at Paul’s house.  He heard it make a groove and that became a song.  Also, on ‘Breathe’, from the “Musical Schizophrenia” record, we used rakes, shovels, hoes, and all kinds of stuff just to get the tones to work inside of the hand percussion.

It’s always been once you peel away a layer on one instrument, you want to peel away that layer on another instrument and apply them together.  It’s really kind of endless, it never seems to stop.  I’m currently trying to study a couple more instruments and every day, as long as you keep your eyes open, you always find more styles and approaches that are interesting, so you try to put them into your toolbox.  It’s pretty much a lifelong thing - whatever you pick up, you make noise with - eventually get down into it and learn why it works and apply it to what you’re thinking.