Story and photographs: John Carlow
Tom Tom: In your own words; write a brief description of your band.
Lana Cooney: Caveboy is the name we give to the “wild child” identity that unifies the 3 of us. We make music that moves us and that moves you- in all of your senses. It’s vibrant, it’s primal, and it’s honest.
Name : Lana Cooney
Hometown: Montreal, Qc
Nickname(s) : Lan, Lenny, Lab
Current band: Caveboy
Favourite place for takeout: Le Pickup in Montreal, specifically their Veggie Pulled Pork sandwich.
Tom Tom: When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?
Lana Cooney: I was about 9 or 10 when I started playing. My dad used to have a home recording studio/jam pad and would hold his band practices and music dude hangouts in the basement of the house where I grew up. There was always a drum kit set up just asking to be played, and fortunately enough I was always encouraged to go down and play around whenever I felt like it, sometimes even sitting in on a couple of songs with the guys. My dad took every opportunity to guide my musical influences and would put on Beatles and Beach Boys records for me to play along to, pointing out nuances and giving me all the background information he could about each song and album. In high school, I joined the orchestra and jazz bands, and subsequently my musical tastes grew and changed. I started exploring my own style, forming garage bands (literally, in the garage) and making demos. It kind of just snowballed into what it is now. I’ve just never stopped! I still play with my dad’s bands too from time to time, so that kind of came full circle.
Tom Tom: Have you ever taken lessons?
Lana Cooney: I’m one of those self-taught people, and I’m obviously proud to be so. However, I’d love to take a few lessons now, just to broaden my horizons a little more. A couple of sessions with a seasoned jazz or funk drummer… I’d jump on that for sure.
Tom Tom: What was the first song you learned to play on drums?
Lana Cooney: I’m going to go with Surfin’ USA (Beach Boys).
Tom Tom: Tell us about your gear.
Lana Cooney: With Caveboy, I play a Ludwig 18” jazz kit.
Snare: Ludwig Supraphonic (Late 1970’s) 5×14”
Skins: Remo Vintage Ambassador on snare, Evans E2 on toms and Remo P3 on kick.
Cymbals: Dream Bliss 14” hats, Paiste 20” Giant Beat crash, Zildjian ZXT Trashformer effect crash and Zildjian K Custom Dry 20” ride.
Electronics: Roland SPDS-X Sampling pad, Roland Snare trigger, MacBook Pro, Audio-Technica ATH IM-70 In-Ears.
Hardware: Ludwig stands, Pearl Power Shifter kick pedal,
Sticks: ProMark 7A Shira Oak
Tom Tom: What is in your own musical collection?
Lana Cooney: It’s a smorgasbord. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Dave Brubeck, Pat Metheny, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Green, The Temptations, The Go-Go’s, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, The Shins, Metric, The Cinematic Orchestra, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Real Estate, and on, and on. Vinyls and streams. Speakers and headphones. Someone stop me.
Tom Tom: Do you have musical idols?
Lana Cooney: I don’t think I really identify much with anyone as far as “idols” go. There are definitely musicians and musical figures for which I have immense respect and would say I draw inspiration from. So for sure Paul McCartney, Prince (with Sheila E.), Michael Jackson, Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, Beyonce, Justin Vernon, Freddie Mercury, St. Vincent, Feist and Sia.
Tom Tom: Who are the bands that inspire your sound?
Lana Cooney: It varies all the time and the reasons for inspiration vary a lot too. It always depends on what’s going on in my head at the time. I’m talking a lot about the Beatles, so I’ll use them as an example. With them, sometimes I’m drawing from drum grooves, other times for vocal rhythms and how they work (or don’t work) with a beat, other times its more about bass lines. I’m always inspired by different elements. To name names, The Beatles for sure (duh), Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Who and anything that Hal Blaine played on. Then there are more contemporary selections: Local Natives, Dave Matthews Band (circa 90’s), Florence and the Machine, Metric, Bombay Bicycle Club, Radiohead, James Blake, Bon Iver…oh man, this feels like the collection question.
Tom Tom: What have you taken away from playing live?
Lana Cooney: Playing live can be the most exhilarating feeling out there. It’s the payoff after all your hard work with planning, rehearsing and traveling. It’s hands down my favourite thing to do in the world, but it can also very quickly turn really stressful if things don’t go exactly to plan. My bandmates and I often talk about “bad show” dreams that we all have wherein everything just goes to shit and it’s just the most stressful and terrifying thing ever. My main takeaway from playing live is BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING. Make sure to feel comfortable and ready before starting. Just take those few extra seconds to make sure all your stands are tight and at the right height. It’s not worth compromising feeling good for those few extra moments it takes to get there. It is also SO important to have a backup plan in case something malfunctions, or a skin breaks, or what have you. Those mishaps are certain to occur, so when they do, you’ll feel way more comfortable and hopefully won’t have a panic attack on stage.
Tom Tom: What does pre show preparation involve?
Lana Cooney: This is such an interesting question to me, because it’s something I’m always wondering about other people. I really value quiet time before a show. A nice relaxing sit down, whether alone or with my band mates where we kind of don’t have to talk to anyone or deal with anything, just get into the zone and mentally get ready- practice a few rudiments on my knee, go over the set list. After that there’s usually the physical warm up, which we most often do together. It varies, but most of the time it involves some jumping jacks, vocal warmups, a huddle, maybe singing the fight song from Mulan while all this is happening… you know, that kind of thing.
Tom Tom: Are you exhausted after a show?
Lana Cooney: Usually the adrenaline keeps me going for a little while, but there’s definitely a point at which I crash pretty hard not too long after, especially if late-night food has been had. Honestly, unless there’s some special thing going on, I’ll most likely be the first to bed.
Tom Tom: What’s the most unusual/funny thing to ever happen to you at a gig?
Lana Cooney: Once I showed up to an outdoor gig where they were supposed to be providing a backline kit. Unfortunately, a drum seat was missing, so the only thing we could find for me to sit on in time for the set was a beer keg. It was less-than comfortable. Another time we were playing in a small venue in New York City and there wasn’t enough room on stage for our full setup, so the solution was to put the drums on the floor. It was a pretty significant height difference from the floor to the stage…It kind of felt like an out of body experience. I was both playing and watching our set at the same time.
Tom Tom: What are the best/ most practical clothes for drumming?
Lana Cooney: Wow, what a great question! I wish someone had given me advice on this early on when I thought it would be good to wear a tight fitted long-sleeved denim button-up for an hour’s set. Well, I’ve learned that I really like playing in large/loose t-shirts or sleeveless shirts. That’s a really safe bet for mobility and comfort and usually looks good, too. I’ve also learned not to accessorize too much. Long necklaces or baggy bracelets or glass rings are not a good idea. On bottom, it’s kinda whatever you like ‘cause that part is usually less visible to the crowd… it could be your little secret! The big one is footwear. For a while all of us in Caveboy played barefoot, myself included. That’s most often the way I would practice at home anyway, so that was okay, except for the sticky, dirty, potentially dangerous stage floors you can expect to come across… so we don’t do that anymore. These days I stick to street shoes tied up nice and tight.
Tom Tom: What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom?
Lana Cooney: I’ve been a fan of Tom Tom for years! I think it’s great for this small(er) segment of the music world to have an outlet and a voice. I’m never one to think of myself terms of a “female drummer”, but I think visibility for all women in the music industry is especially important. Maybe it’s a solidarity thing, but I love seeing other women behind the kit kicking ass, and yeah you bet I want to know what their favourite takeout place is and what sticks they’re using.
Tom Tom: Tell us about the first show you played in front of an audience as a drummer?
Lana Cooney: It may not have been the first one ever, but it does stand out. I got involved with this band in high school that was formed for a show benefitting the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Association. One of the teachers from the school led the thing, and selected a bunch of classic rock covers for us to play. There were a few Led Zeppelin tunes, (including an epic rendition of Kashmir with strings and brass), some Rush, Heart and even a Black Sabbath tune. It was loads of fun, and super challenging for 17-year old me. I distinctly remember this whoosh feeling come over me during the set that kinda made me think “yeah, this feels right”. I still get that feeling today. I know, I’m a cheeseball.
Tom Tom: What’s in the future for you musically?
Lana Cooney: Right now, my main focus is Caveboy. We’ve been working really hard to build the brand and get into the ears of as many people as possible. You’ve got to start small, so we still have a lot of road ahead of us! We’re working material for a new album, so I’m excited by the prospect of getting back into the studio and experimenting a little. Beyond that, who knows! I’m getting more and more into hybridizing acoustic and electronic methods of playing and performing, so I’m looking forward to exploring that territory a little more, especially moving into the next Caveboy record.
Tom Tom: Do you have advice for young women starting out on drums?
Lana Cooney: Yeah girl, get it. If you feel the beat, play the beat. Don’t be afraid to chase the dream. And if and when you get to the point where you feel you want to make a living doing this, don’t let anyone stand in your way. It IS a real job. Also, practice your rudiments.
John Carlow / Photography & John Carlow -Finding Charlotte Photography