Anna Coogan has been preparing for this moment her whole life, ever since she was a girl growing up in Boston, influenced by her classical opera training and her father’s protest albums by Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan. After several efforts with her Pacific Northwest-based alt-country band north 19, a pair of well-received indie solo releases and a collaboration with producer JD Foster (2014’s Birth of the Stars), Coogan’s latest is a stylistic breakthrough. Anna Coogan will release The Lonely Cry of Space & Time on April 28.
The album, a virtual two-person effort which features Willie B (Brian Wilson) on drums and Moog bass, combines Coogan’s three-octave soprano vocals, electric guitar soundscapes and pointed social commentary into a fierce cohesive piece which combines the personal and the political, in a musical hybrid of rock, country, pop and classical opera into a unique whole.
Glide Magazine is proud to premiere “Collateral” off The Lonely Cry of Space & Time, a fervently emotive kiss-off anthem that is both militant, righteous and experimental. Coogan’s introspective tunes comes from a place where the line between poignant songwriting and echoey indie rock collides completely.
“Collateral is one of my personal favorite songs from the record,” says Coogan. “Willie B (my collaborator and sole band-mate) shines on this song, with an intricate beat and all sorts of filter sweeps on the Micro Moog. He nailed the drums on the first take in the studio – he just went into the room and bashed it out for five minutes, and that was that.”
“I wrote this during the early days of the election cycle when the true colors were starting to show, and women (and seemingly every other minority group) were coming into the crossfire. ‘Blood coming out of her… wherever’ and ‘shrill’ were buzzwords that started to take over the news cycle. It was clear that the dialogue was shifting, and not in a good way, and it all seemed (and continues to seem) so unstoppable and vicious. This song is a direct response to that—it’s a breakup anthem to that mentality—and I mean it with every ounce of my being when I sing “you can’t contain my heart, you can’t contain my soul, I’m not collateral.”
Glide also had the chance to find out more about Coogan’s new LP, her musical resume and latest concerts she caught….
Your forthcoming LP THE LONELY CRY OF SPACE & TIME is due out shortly. Was the album written and recorded during the election process and how much of an influence did that stake into the theme of your songs?
The election had a lot of influence on the writing and performance of the songs. I started writing this album a few years ago, before the election was underway, but even then, the temperature in the world (literally and metaphorically), was getting hotter. Willie and I had toured several times in Germany and seen the refugees first-hand, and I was recently in Calais, France on tour the day the Jungle was cleared. The news of the day really seeped into my writing on this record. By the time we tracked the vocals, there was a lot of desperation and anger there. Were we really going to wander into this dystopian future? Yes, as it turned out.
Operatic rock album has been used in your press release – do you find that term spot on or how would you best describe your music?
I think operatic rock is a pretty good start. I don’t use those full “operatic” vocals in every song, but it’s nice to have the option to really launch things up and over the top. Since a lot of this record was written for (or inspired by) silent film scores, I do like the word “cinematic” to describe what we are doing.
Can you tell us some about your musical resume? What genres and styles have you partaken in during your travels?
I’ve run the gamut with styles and genres. I started out training as an opera singer at a young age, and stopped when I was in my twenties. After that, I starting writing songs with an alt-country/Americana bent. I put out at least one record that was pure folk music (2011’s “The Wasted Ocean”). When I started playing with Willie B, things shifted pretty fast genre-wise. He’s such an aggressive and creative player. I started playing electric guitar, and we started scoring films, which led to the opera/synth stuff that’s on this record.
What is your local music scene like and what venues and artists do you consider your home venues and what artists do you most collaborate with?
I’m lucky to live in this tiny town in the Southern Tier of New York State (Ithaca), which has a thriving music scene, led by the Ithaca Underground, a host of talented players, and a handful of excellent small venues. I spent a decade in Seattle, so I still consider the streets of Ballard (home to the Tractor Tavern, Sunset Tavern, and Conor Byrne Pub) home on some level. I’ve also been played quite a bit in Glasgow, Scotland, which has one of the most vibrant music scenes I’ve ever come across.
I am lucky to have some excellent co-workers. Producer JD Foster and I wrote and toured record together in 2014, and I regularly perform theater pieces with Mary Lorson (Madder Rose). Touring and playing with both the Johnny Dowd Band and my duo with Willie B has really shifted my perception of what is possible, musically. Those guys expect a lot from their collaborators, which pushes me to step out of my comfort zone. And to practice.
What are the last five concerts you saw and which ones stood out as more memorable?
I’ve seen a lot of great local shows lately- Tenzin Chopak, Jennie Stearns, Hank Roberts, Beverly Stokes, and TZAR. I saw some great acts supporting Johnny Dowd when I was touring in his band last fall. We played one gritty art space in Liverpool and this young jazz band (The Dead Hedge Trio) came and set up right on the floor in front of the stage and just nailed it. We toured with Dutch artist Mark Lotterman, who gives a heartbreaking live performance. I don’t see as many bigger touring acts these days, but I just saw Christian McBride and Edgar Myer, which was a fantastic show.
Anna Coogan Tour Dates
April 07 – Nashville, TN – The Radio Café w Amelia White
April 21 – Portland OR – The Laurelthirst Pub w Lawn Party
April 22 – Bellingham WA – The Green Frog Tavern w Shasta Bree
April 23 – Seattle WA – The Triple Door, w Shasta Bree
April 27 – Brooklyn, NY – Barbes
April 29 – Syracuse, NY – Funk N Waffles
May 05 – Ithaca, NY – The Haunt,
May 13 – Buffalo, NY – The Tudor Lounge
June 03 – New York, NY – Rockwood Music Hall