I’’m waiting for Will Cole in the parking lot of Tasty Top, the iconic Easthampton roadside ice cream stand as dark clouds roll in and the air grows still and humid. The idea is to do a photoshoot at the adjacent Easthampton Golf, sort of a nod to Will’s dad, an avid golfer and little bit to Cole’s youth. I’ve got the golf cart and a bucket of balls reserved but that plan goes south. There’s a storm coming and Will’s running late and I still need to interview him. When he does arrive, he hops out of his Lincoln Town Car and quickly apologizes, but rehearsals with his dad, British expat and singer-songwriter Lloyd Cole, were running a bit late.

Cole’s home for the summer from school and about to start his summer job — playing with his dad as sideman on a European tour that goes to the U.K., Ireland, Germany, and France. This will be a rather novel experience for him and that novelty has nothing to do with the actual job itself. It will be the first time that Cole spends a proper chunk of time with his dad. This realization dawns on Cole as I ask him about his relationship to music and his father’s influence on it. Cole reflects on the fact that his dad spends a lot of time on the road “at his job” to support his mom, younger brother and himself. Cole has no illusions that his dad’s profession is glamorous by any stretch of the imagination. Which is a good thing to acknowledge as the younger Cole, who at 18, embarks upon his own musical career.
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In the meantime, he’s been learning his dad’s extensive back catalog — from the Commotions to the Negatives and the solo stuff in between. He’s just about mastered all of it and on this day was learning and rehearsing material from Cole’s most recent release Broken Record. Just in the nick of time, as Cole and his dad play a handful of warm up dates on the East Coast, prior to the European tour next week. The first two shows are this weekend at the Elevens in Northampton.

VB: Were you conscious growing up of your dad’s profession? Did you identify with what he did and want to do the same thing?

WC: I had some idea of it, as a kid might have some vague idea about what their parent does to make a living. To me it was just my dad’s “job” -— and my dad’s way of making a living wasn’t very exciting or appealing to me.

It started to register with me when I was eight or nine years old and my brother, Frank, was a toddler. My mom put in a VHS tape of my dad performing “Fool You Are.”

There was a turning point for me at age 10 when I saw the movie School of Rock. I identified with those kids and realized that I wanted to play music as well.

VB: As a kid growing up, did you have a preternatural disposition towards music? Did you pick up a guitar at an early age and figure out chords, or just resign yourself to “I must play this thing?” Did you feel any pressure to be musical?

WC: I didn’t start playing until I was 11. I took lessons from Jim Armenti (Lonesome Brothers) and my dad taught me a few chords. I started on an electric which isn’t generally easy. My dad gave me one of his “adult” guitars which was tough to play, you know, you had to wrap your fingers around the fretboard.

I didn’t feel any pressure to play and my dad wasn’t exactly steering me towards playing. He had concerns about me choosing this path. He pretty much gave me the pros and cons of the business at an early age. There wasn’t this misconception that my dad was partaking in a glamorous life. He was working hard to support us. From the start, I got the message that it was hard work and a business — not the stuff of rock ‘n’ roll lore. He wasn’t in the Beatles.

VB: Have you ever thought about the kids of other famous artists like Jeff Buckley, Rufus Wainwright, or Teddy Thompson for example — a feeling of kinship or maybe a curiosity about what their life is like? I bring this up because inevitably people will compare to your father (at least for a little bit) if you plan on making a career of it.

WC: I try not to think about it because I think it would have a negative effect. I’m thankful that my dad wasn’t as big as the Beatles. The only person that I really think about in terms of the whole “famous” racket is Julian Casablancas (The Strokes). His dad founded a famous modeling agency. Julian’s been like a mentor to me in the music business realm.

VB: Tell me about the stuff musically that floats your boat. What’s go-to music for you, stuff that’s satisfying to soul?

WC: I’d have to say The Stokes do it for me; Julian’s (Casablancas) a great writer and Albert’s (Hammond Jr.) a great musician, the Velvet Underground of my generation. I’m a huge fan of The Walkmen; their cover of “Many Rivers to Cross” is awesome. Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot It In People is classic. Joan As Policewoman is pretty intriguing. Joan Wasser’s on a completely different wavelength. I love stuff by Arcade Fire, Beachwood Sparks, Pavement, Television, Iggy Pop, Jonathan Richman, and of course, Velvet Underground. I’ve been listening to a lot of African and Latin stuff these days. I’m really into rhythms.

VB: Tell me about the music you’re currently doing (aside from working with your dad). Are you more inclined to do the frontman thing, a solo thing, or do you like the dynamics of being in a band with a more or less defined role?

WC: I’m writing some some songs that I’ll eventually demo. The stuff I write is really for my guitar-playing friends. It’s evolving. Whatever I do, though, I’ll be the frontman.

VB: You’ve been living in NYC, going to school and no doubt reacquainting yourself with your old hometown. What are you majoring in?

WC: I’m enrolled at NYU – Tisch School of the Arts in the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music Department. Basically majoring in the fine art of music recording.

VB: How’s it going with learning your dad’s catalog? Are you looking forward to touring?

WC: Well, I’ve got the Commotions back catalog down, and we’re all the way up to Broken Record just in time for the Elevens gig! Things are moving along pretty well. I’m looking forward to the tour and the opportunity to work. I’ve been to England, but not Ireland, Germany or France.

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Publication: Springfeild Examiner

Publication date: 07/06/12