COG - 24/08/2008

COG is an Australian progressive rock band which was formed in 1998. Flynn Gower and Lucius Borich (son of renowned Australian blues guitarist Kevin Borich) were friends at their Bondi high school in the 1980s. As their school careers finished, Borich formed the band Juice while Flynn formed the 5 piece metal band The Hanging Tree. In 1995, after the release of Juice's debut album, Borich left the band and joined The Hanging Tree. Shortly after the release of their debut, Borich left the band and the country, travelling to the United States. Flynn wanted to form a band and contacted Lucius, eventually resulting in the formation of COG.

 

Initially, the band was to form in the United States, but Borich chose to travel home. The drum, bass, and guitar parts for what would become the Just Visiting EPs were recorded shortly after, in 1998, with Borich assuming bass duties. The vocals would be recorded two years later. To fill out the bass in live shows, Flynn recruited his brother Luke, formerly of the Sydney band Tax. After they formed this legitimate lineup, they toured aggressively, clocking up thousands of kilometres of weekly driving between Sydney and Melbourne.

 

In 2001, the band signed with underground label Little Samurai Records and prepared to release the Just Visiting Part One and Just Visiting Part Two EPs. The two EPs, despite the slight differences in style between them, were written and recorded at the same time. ‘Just Visiting Part One’ was released in February 2002 and ‘Just Visiting Part Two’ was released in October that same year.  

 

During the later months of 2004, COG recorded their debut album, ‘The New Normal’, in the small logging town of Weed, California with producer Sylvia Massy (System of a Down, Tool). In support of the album, the band headlined a full Australian tour. COG began to record and write tracks for their second album in 2007, entitled ‘Sharing Space’, at Weed, California, once again with Massy producing. They took a break from recording in June, bouncing back for a number of shows.

 

 

‘Sharing Space’ was released recently through Superball Music in Europe, and we recently did an interview with Luke Gower, here you can read what he had to say.

 

First of all, I’m not familiar with your band so could you tell me something about COG? How did this band get together, where does the name COG come from, what does it mean and could you tell me something about your musical background? 

COG is a three piece band made up of Flynn, Luke Gower and Lucius Borich. We formed in about 98-99 and started playing instrumental to begin with whilst we searched for a singer. Flynn eventually grabbed the mic and started singing and that’s that . Flynn and Lucius were in a previous band called the Hanging Tree and after they both left that band they united a few years later to begin writing on what would become the first 2 EP’s “Just Visisting 1 & 2”.

The name came from reading the dictionary for a band name and that one stuck. It means “constant variation within the engaged” and I think that applies to our sound a lot.

 

How did you launch into writing the material for ‘Sharing Space’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?
We spent a huge amount of time writing both here in Australia and in Weed, California . We were fortunate enough to have a space in which we could write and record ourselves with our own gear in weed and it was quite productive for us in the end having doubled the amount of material in a third of the time it took us to write it back home. At the end of the writing it was a combination of  both material from home and weed that made the chop so there’s a bit of both.

 

Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
I don’t think we have any trouble in coming up with ideas, it’s more about the culling of the ideas that already exist. Too many parts going on at the same time can confuse the song sometimes I think, it’s a thin line. I remember for the track “Sharing Space” on the album me and Flynn were trying to put it together and it seemed like every part worked with each other no matter which way you had it, which was good but it also made it like an insane rubix puzzle at the same time. Some songs just take longer than others.

 

This is your second release in ten years, so it’s obvious that you guys took some time to come up with a new album, why did we have to wait so long?
Yeah sorry about that. We just take a long time to do what we do .We don’t like settling for something we’re not completely into or doing something that we think is alright , we would rather spend a bit more time and get it fuckin’ right, and that just takes time .We did end up with a heap of ideas and half songs in the bag so we have a head start on the next one, you could say.

 

What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Sharing Space’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?
I think when we were doing demo’s, some of us had ideas of what would have sounded good and we have tried to emulate that somehow in certain tracks using a variety of instruments and machines. I think if there is any goal it is to end up with a great sounding album, start to finish. Time and money play a part in all of that, too and outside pressure as well. So all you can do is give it a go with what you’ve got.

 

Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?
No, not at all. We ended up spending almost 10 months writing, playing and recording in the U.S. and I think it was too long in hindsight. I think taking your time to record is fine and important if you want to get it right sometimes but I wouldn’t do it in one chunk of time. Same goes for touring. You need your time at home sometimes. I think next time we will look at the possibility of recording here in Aus, maybe with an overseas producer or engineer provided we have the right gear and environment. We’ll see.

 

In song writing, what is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you and is there any typical way that a COG songs comes into being?
The utmost important thing is that everyone keeps an open mind . It’s what works best for each song, some take longer than others but I think what gives us our sound more than anything is the fact that we write on each other’s instruments and it’s whatever sounds the best that stays,no matter who writes it.

 

 

Who was responsible for writing the songs and the lyrics on this album and where do you get your inspiration from?
As I just mentioned we all have a hand in all writing aspects. Some songs get written more or less by one of us sometimes, but they usually change again once the other two get involved. Flynn does write most of the lyrics but he is the singer so I don’t think that is uncommon and it works well for us. As for inspiration, I think it comes from different places with each of us. We share a pretty common interest in musical tastes and other things like Surfing and White Water Rafting.

 

What would you say are the main themes in your lyrics?
Themes that are currently affecting our lives,  politics, relationships ,UFO’s, you know, the usual. Each song can take a while before it reveals its meaning or destination vocally for us. Sometimes it starts with a sound from just joking around or losing your mind after trying all day to come up with something.

 

Is the music written independently of the lyrics or do you try to reflect lyrical ideas through the music?
It’s the music that generally comes first but some songs just started with everything at once and it’s stuck, so a bit of both, really. I think Flynn finds it easier to work on a solid bed of music but he definitely doesn’t  mind putting a few ideas down on the mini-disc.

 

What do you think are the main differences between your previous album ‘The New Normal’ and the coming ‘Sharing Space’? About the song writing, how can we imagine you work on new songs?

Well, the main difference is that half of Sharing Space was written in the U.S. before we started recording in Weed. We were given a space where we set up our gear and wrote for 3 months, basically. We were in a different head space over their and I think it had its positives and its negatives. We ended up with some great songs and it definitely made the album turn out how it did in the end which I’m proud of but I think I preferred putting most of the parts out before I started recording, like we did with The New Normal. There’s always room in the studio to move but it’s also good knowing exactly what you want to do at the same time.

 

What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you wait until you get an idea?
When we’re touring I hardly write at all. I just prefer to write when I’m at home with all my nick nacks. Like I said it’s a bit of a process with us and it takes a long time. Melodies generally come first and sometimes the words just need a little pushing before they come out . At the very beginning it may be nothing more than a weird sound that fell out of one of our mouths, but after a bit of experimentation it can end up being the main line. It’s weird but it works.

 

Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Sharing Space’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?
We all agreed on that name and thought it was very applicable to the songs and their meanings. It’s quite a broad title and can apply to a lot of things from space itself to just me and a mate sharing a meal. It seems like it’s very applicable to a lot of things in this day and age and I like that about it.

 

In song writing, what is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you?
An open mind. Anything can happen during the recording with us and to keep an open view is a good thing. It’s all about the song and what makes it a better song and if you can keep that in mind I think you’ll be fine.

 

Do you have any favorites on ‘Sharing Space’, songs that you think are somehow above the others?
I love them all in their own way. I think they are all quite unique and it depends on what kind of a mood I’m in. I love playing “No Other Way” live, it really gets me pumped.

 

For the recording of ‘Sharing Space’, you went to Weed in California once again. Why did you decide to go to the U.S., I can imagine it’s much easier and cheaper to record in Australia? 
You might be right, but there is a lack of quality rock producers and studios here and the ones that are here are roughly the same price or more than the ones overseas. We like Weed as a place to record and some of the studio gear is great so we knew what we were doing to a degree. I would love to record an album here and I hope to maybe do it next time.

 

 

How did the recording process proceed and how much time did you spend in the studio? All up it was about 6 months in the studio actually recording and the rest of the time was spent writing and playing a few shows. At first it was good , Slyvia was there every day during the drum takes and getting more involved in the producing and engineering but towards the end of the process we didn’t see much of her at all and we ended up really doing it ourselves with the help and skills of our engineer Jim Wood.

 

The production was done by Sylvia Massy, what made her the perfect producer for COG?
We had an existing relationship with Slyvia and it worked well on the last album and I suppose at the time, with what was on the table that was what we chose. We didn’t want to create a ‘New Normal 2’ so we were very conscious of that during the recording in the studio and made decisions with gear and sounds to deliberately steer away from that. Even after our experience with Slyvia this time round I still think she is an amazing producer but maybe not the one for us.

 

In which things/songs on the album can one clearly hear her vision and ideas?
I’m not sure really, I don’t think she was around long enough to really have that much impact on any particular song. We really made most of the decisions.

 

Have you received any feedback on your album yet?
Yeah, we’ve received great response here in Aus and in London also when we played there. I think we generally write music that’s quite hard to digest at first and may need a couple of listens before you understand it or get where we are coming from. It will be interesting to see how it goes in Europe, I’m excited.

 

Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?
It’s a bit of both really, whilst I definitely don’t write songs for anyone, else I do listen to what people have to say. If you can’t take a bit criticism now and then, then how do you better yourself? I think there’s a lot of bands that are trapped in writing songs for radio or at a radio length and I think that is wrong. They should be written without that in mind. Thats what I think anyway.


Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?
Yeah I’m very pleased with the final outcome, but if I could go back I would change bits and pieces. When we left we hadn’t finished mixing all the tracks and I think that’s an important process to be involved in  and when you’re doing it from another country it becomes quite hard. There’s always next time.

 

What do you think is the difference between COG and other bands in the experimental/ progressive rock scene?
I think we have carved our own sound to a degree and that is what we have always tried to do from day one. We really try to come up with original sounds and songs and I think by also writing on each other’s instruments we have the ability to create a huge difference from one song to the next.

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?

Personally I’m into a lot of water activities like surfing, swimming, camping and fishing. Whether it motivates or comes out in the music is another thing but I think it would in some way. I spend some much time around music and the band. I really enjoy doing things non-musical when I get the chance and it can be nice to step out away from it to get a different perspective on things. As for Lyrics, I’m more of a spur of the moment type guy and I like to do it on the spot.

 

What is your opinion on the ‘rock’ scene these days, is there anything missing from it? 
Yeah I think it’s missing a bit of soul. It seems like there are so many bands more concerned with their hair and fashion rather than their guitars or whatever it is they play. I realise the 2 go hand in hand in a way but I really don’t hear that much original music coming out as, say, in the 70’s or 80’s. Maybe it’s becoming harder to sound new or fresh when there is so much music available from so many places. The other problem is the download debate but I’m not going into that one.

 

Which album has been your biggest musical influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?
There’s been a few. Deftones ‘Around the Fur’ had a huge influence on me, as did Rage’s first Album. I was younger and probably more angry and it appealed to me at the time. I still love both of those albums and still listen to them as well. I think I have been influenced by so many different artists and bands it’s hard to put a finger on just one.

 

How would you describe your own music and what are your musical influences, are there any particular bands that’ve been a big influence in your song writing, metal or otherwise?
I describe it as some form of experimental rock ‘n roll with influences from The Police, Pink Floyd, Helmet and Underworld. As I said before there are too many bands to mention but they all have influenced us in some way.

 

How do you see the future for COG, what can we expect in the near future?
More shows, more touring hopefully in the U.K and Europe and anywhere else it may take us. I would love to play all over the world and have an opportunity to really get the music out there. We may even move to Europe for a while to give it a really good go.

 

Any last statement you'd like to share with us?
Thanks for the time and I look forward to playing some shows over in your neck of the woods. Cheers

 

Thanks for your time!

Eugene Straver

 

 

Members:

Line Up:
Flynn Gower - Vocals / Guitar
Luke Gower - Bass
Lucius Borich - Drums

 

Albums :

The New Normal (2005)
Sharing Space (2008)

 

Singles & EPs :

Pseudo (2000)

Just Visiting Part One (2002)

Just Visiting Part Two ( 2002)

Open Up (2003)

Run (2005)

Resonate

Real Life

What If (2007)

Bird of Feather (2008)