- Courtesy Of Shervin Lainez
Liz Cooper & the Stampede are on the verge of busting out of the corral to tear off into the wild. With the imminent release of its debut LP Window Flowers, due out August 10, the Nashville-based trio is poised for a breakout. On the band's latest single, "Mountain Man," the group concocts a psychedelic, folk-rock hybrid that contrasts with the traditional Americana sound from 2014's Monsters EP.
The track's recently released video is a virtual-reality-themed, Sunday-Funday dreamscape that subtly hints at the futility of the urge to be in control. Also, it features cameo appearances from Ron Gallo, Vermont expat Caroline Rose and their bands — including Rose's Burlington-based drummer Willoughby Morse. More singles and videos arrive later this summer, including an Anna Zorn-directed video for "Hey Man," featuring members of the Chicago-based improv comedy troupe the Second City.
Cooper, a former golf phenom, feels a kindred connection to Burlington. The front woman has family in the area and plays a Creston Electric Instruments guitar, crafted by local luthier Creston Lea in his South End studio.
Liz Cooper & the Stampede open for Houndmouth on Sunday, June 24, at the Higher Ground Ballroom in South Burlington. Seven Days caught up with Cooper by phone while she and her "Stampeders" cruised through Virginia mountains.
SEVEN DAYS: First of all, the "Mountain Man" video is spectacular. How did that project come together?
LIZ COOPER: We filmed the video with director — and my roommate — Daniel Yocum. We first filmed the video in Nashville, and all of us were all not necessarily vibing with [the concept]. The second filming came about spur of the moment after [playing] South by Southwest. We were down in Texas, and we had a few days.
Basically, it was just incredibly spur of the moment — everything down to the fireworks that we got. They were donated to us. The "mountain man," Billy — I don't actually know if I know his last name — he just finished his construction job and had a week and a half of nothing to do.
The story line kind of unfolded as we were driving from New Orleans down to Austin. As we were filming it, we were just coming up with ideas. How the video developed and everything that's going on was kind of like a dream and probably something that we wouldn't ever be able to re-create.
SD: Are you a virtual reality user in real life?
LC: No, not really. We do have a VR headset — the one that was in the video. We got [it] from a gas station. My bass player, Grant Prettyman, he uses the VR headset the most out of everybody. It's mostly just a thing while we're sitting in the van.
SD: Did you meet the other bands in the video at South by Southwest?
LC: No. I've known Ron [Gallo] for a while. He lives in Nashville, just down the road from where I live. And Caroline [Rose], I just met her this year. We've played some shows together and have a bunch of mutual friends. We were all just hanging out, and it all just kind of happened. It was very organic.
SD: You seem like you were already having fun before you started shooting.
LC: Yeah, we definitely were.
SD: You recorded Window Flowers in one week, correct?
LC: We recorded it in 2016. It's pretty crazy. It's been a while. We did a week at Welcome to 1979 [studios in Nashville], and we probably spent another week at another studio in Atlanta. But the whole mixing [process] takes a long time. We got everything finished late last summer.
SD: After so much time, I wonder how your perspective has changed.
LC: Oh, so much.
SD: Since the release of your 2014 EP Monsters, how do you think your songwriting, guitar playing and overall sound have changed?
LC: Oh, in every way. It's changed drastically. When I first moved to Nashville is when I recorded Monsters. Those were the first songs I ever really wrote. Those weren't necessarily as intentional. There wasn't a process. I wasn't like, "I've got 50 songs, and I'm gonna choose these."
From that point to forming what we have now with Ryan Usher and Grant Prettyman — my "Stampeders" — a lot has changed with my songwriting and how we all work as a band over the last two years. I feel like we're really in the groove of touring more than we ever had been before. That's how we spend all of our time right now.
At first, I played acoustic guitar for Monsters. I started to pick up electric, and last year was the first year I feel like I really pushed myself to the next level of guitar playing. A lot of people in the Nashville community ask me to play guitar for their bands, so that was a cool thing for me, because it pushed me to have to learn what other people are doing — which I really like because it puts me in another mind-set and helps me learn different sounds and how other people approach melodies.
SD: Do you have any guitar heroes?
LC: It changes. I'm still learning what I'm doing. I've always loved the Grateful Dead, and Jerry Garcia is definitely someone I look up to. And Bob Weir. I take away something from how Jerry plays lead and how Bob plays with the lead. I try to incorporate that two-in-one [style].
Actually, a local person to you guys — Benny Yurco [of Grace Potter's band] — he's been playing with Michael Nau, and I sang some background vocals for them when they were down in Nashville. The way he plays guitar is so great and tasteful. Their music in general has been inspiring me lately.
SD: I imagine you're sick of this golf narrative that keeps getting brought up.
LC: It does keep getting brought up. But it's part of me.
SD: Seven Days recently received an email from a reader wondering why we haven't covered anything disc-golf-related recently, and I was wondering—
LC: Disc golf? Ryan plays disc golf.
SD: Oh, really?
LC: If you want, I can pass the phone to him and he can talk to you about it.
RYAN USHER: Hey, what's up?
SD: Hi, Ryan. Tell me what's so great about disc golf.
RU: Honestly, it's just a nice way to get some exercise and hang out in the woods. And you can, like, drink and smoke weed while you do it.
SD: Are you shooting as great distances as you are in regular golf?
RU: I don't think so, no. I would say they're probably shorter. I've never actually played regular golf.