"Cochell tells each tale with hope, passion and pure honesty."
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-
What I like most about Jeff Cochell, is there is no "sing songy" attempt to sugar coat the truth in his music. I really admire artists out there who are themselves and just let the chips fall where they may. Praise goes out to those artists that can show us something real and genuine. Jeff Cochell is one of these artists. He's clearly not trying to be something he's not, and his music will work best on days you want a delicate acoustical setting to fill your sonic atmosphere. Cochell’s playing, writing, and conventional wisdom are impressive, as he tells each tale with hope, passion and pure honesty. When this CD is over you will be dazzled by his guitar playing, touched by his vocal presence, and mesmerized by his wisdom.
IMD I really enjoyed your debut CD Jeff, how would you classify your music as both a composer and an artist?
JEFF COCHELL Well, early on I was inspired by older folk and classic rock. Starting with Dylan, who has been my main influence overall. He led me to an interest in older folk music, blues, and bluegrass such as Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt and Doc Watson. I’ve always been a big fan of simple songs with a deep underlying message, the ones where you don’t search for and may not even know what it means, but you just get lost in it. Dylan and others have done this for me, the most recent I can think of is Elliott Smith. I try to write about what is meaningful to me, and what is currently on my mind. I don’t dig much for ideas or inspiration; I am very in the moment. I’d probably classify myself as a new age folk artist, but not feeling limited by that genre. Very similar to what I perceived of as mid sixties Greenwich Village, or at least that is what I aspire to be.
IMD I really enjoyed some of your classical guitar playing on the record, how would you classify it?
JEFF COCHELL Well, I started out like every 16 year old does on an electric guitar, learning power chords and pentatonic blues scales mostly. I went through several teachers right away. When I first got into guitar playing I immediately gravitated to the playing of Jimmy Page. I was of course was familiar with his status, but he inspired me more than the other legends I had heard of, including Hendrix, Clapton, and Santana. I started playing when grunge was getting popular and metal bands such as Metallica and Guns and Roses were still very big in the day, especially for guitarists. So these artists also had a big impact on me. Hearing some of Page’s instrumental and acoustic pieces, namely Bron Yaur, Black Mountain Side, and Stairway to Heaven brought me into a new world. I immediately became encapsulated by the sound of an acoustic guitar, I can also recall listening to the twelve string guitar playing of Stephen Stills and the Rolling Stones and being blown away. Fleetwood Mac’s Never Going Back Again was a life changer also for me the first time I heard it as well. I immediately got my first guitar, which was a 12 string Ibanez and sought out acoustic fingerstyle guitar lessons. My first and only acoustic teacher was Mark Hanson of Accent on Music. I have continued to take lessons from him for several years now and even recently. He has really been my biggest influence. He is well known here in Portland, a grammy winner, and continues to be one of the best fingerstyle guitarists I have ever seen. He now holds workshops with the likes of Tommy Emmanuel and Ed Gerhard. From that point I expanded in a lot of different directions, from Leo Kottke, John Fahey to fingerpicking a lot of Dylan, classic rock and getting into a lot of older blues. Primarily travis style picking. My style has remained fingerstyle to this day. I have brought the influences of my past into my current playing whether it be pop, folk, or electric rock guitar.
IMD How’s the music scene in Portland these days?
JEFF COCHELL It's great Pretty crazy, and can seem overwhelming at times. I don’t really appreciate the music scene here enough until I am in another town, I was recently in Tampa and the disparity was amazing. You can literally go out any time after 6:30 any day of the week and go see music that will inspire you and a lot of the times blow you away. There is a lot of friendly competition here, and people are very musically astute and aware of what is going on in the music world, both past and present. This makes for a very critical audience, but you always know that people are listening and paying attention, which is rewarding both as an artist and an audience member. You always know that whoever is on stage is doing their best to stand apart and give their best performance.
IMD Who are some of your top musical influences both as a guitarist and a singer/songwriter?
JEFF COCHELL As I said earlier, Page was big early on. Mark Hanson, Leo Kottke, John Fahey, Jorma Kaukonen, Paul Simon, George Harrison, Tuck Andress, Lindsey Buckingham, Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, Elliott Smith, and Dylan. In terms of singer/songwriters Dylan is the main one overall. But also his predecessors such as Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt,, Hank Williams, Reverand Gary Davis, and Jimmy Rodgers. I also got into Arlo Guthrie, Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Steve Goodman ,Tom Waits, Hank Williams, and Elton John/ Bernie Taupin. More recent influences include Beck- especially his album Sea Change, Kelly Joe Phelps, and Elliott Smith (he is the closest thing I have found in terms of inspiration since I first became a Dylan fan).
IMD Listening to your CD I can’t help to hear subtle similarities between you and the legendary Jim Croce both playing & writing? Am I off the mar there? He was no slouch on the guitar either. ..
JEFF COCHELL I take that as a compliment, a lot of people these days don’t seem to take him that serious anymore, but he was an incredible songwriter and a great fingerstyle guitarist. I have always felt the pure emotion in his songs and the ride he takes you on, and his songs have a way of building up momentum, then bringing you down again, they are melancholy but they provide a sense of comfort at the same time. I think my playing has been strongly influenced by his arpeggiated picking style with a lot of bass runs and melodic phrasing. He’s one of those artists that when you hear one of his songs you just stop and listen and get caught up in the moment, I frequently find myself on the Public Access channel or a Beach Rental station just stopping and listening because one of his songs is playing. J
IMD What do you like most about performing live?
JEFF COCHELL l like the opportunity it provides for me as an artist. I always dreamed about that moment on stage as a child, where time just seems to stand still and everybody gets lost in the moment. These have always been the most important moments for me growing up, and when an artist is in that zone they are inspiring and everybody can get the feel and gift they provide.
IMD Who gets to be your all time favorite band or artist? Most inspirational song or piece of music (TOP 5)
JEFF COCHELL My favorite artist of all time is Bob Dylan, band would be Led Zeppelin. Most inspirational songs for me are Like A Rolling Stone, Up to Me- both Dylan, Leader of the Band- Dan Fogelberg, Oh Well, Okay- Elliott Smith, Lost Cause- Beck and yes, Stairway to Heaven and American Pie both mesmerized me when I first heard them, they still bring out the nostalgic feel when I hear them on the radio.
IMD What was the best concert you’ve ever been to?
JEFF COCHELL That’s a tough one, I saw Dylan for the first time at The Schnitzer hall here in Portland in 95. I had heard his recent recorded live material and heard all about his ‘washed up’ status. But what I saw was incredible, he was audible, making jokes, his lyrics were coherent and just had a great energy to it. I was blown away. Other great concerts were Dylan and Paul Simon for the first time on stage together at the Columbia George, Page and Plants reunion tour also comes to mind. Recently the two shows that have blown me away were Built To Spill here in Portland, and seeing Kelly Joe Phelps at the Sisters Folk Festival. He is one of the greatest, and probably most underrated guitarists of the day, absolutely incredible.
IMD I especially enjoyed the song “WHEN YOU’RE ON YOUR FEET” could you tell us more about that particular piece, what inspired that one?
JEFF COCHELL This song was actually co-written with a friend of mine from high school. It was inspired by a girl, and I was in a bitter state, so I just wrote out the lyrics as a poem and then turned them into song lyrics and handed over to my friend Mike Morton. I just asked him to do what he could with them. Next time I saw him he had the chords for the lyrics and chorus all written, and it was perfect. Sometimes songwriting works best when done as in collaboration.
MD How about “BETWEEN THE LINES”?
JEFF COCHELL That song came to me out of nowhere. I actually wrote it as a senior in high school, I’d been playing guitar religiously for a couple of years. I kind of just came up with the riff and the words just came. I wish all song-writing came that easy. It was just something I felt at the time, I think the melody reminds me of Air Supply- All Out Love- which I have been a closet fan of for years J
MD What’s next for Jeff Cochell?
JEFF COCHELL I am going to record a demo album of instrumentals starting in a couple of weeks and I have a busy spring and summer full of weddings, private events and playing the local circuit. I plan to start recording my next album by late summer/ next fall and hope to have it completed by next spring. I’ll be in Portland in the meantime, then am planning to tour and promote the album. I then hope to enjoy the inspiration and interesting people I will encounter on the road.
interview conducted by Cyrus Rhodes. Property of Indie Music Media LLC.
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