By Jason Cooper
Entire contents are copyright © 2020 by Jason Cooper. All rights reserved.
4. Jesus Rock, Hold the Jesus
For a while there, my plan was to become a Christian rock star. This was an odd plan considering I have never been particularly religious. Also, unless you happened to be missing four of your five senses, it was impossible not to be aware that I was clearly a homosexual. But as a 17-year-old in 1993, I lived under the delusion that being gay was something I could negotiate with the universe. I formed a band with some friends I had from the youth group of my church, a church to which I only attended the social events. My plan was for us to break into Christian music and then crossover into the pop world. If Amy Grant could do it, then I could do it. It turns out I was no Amy Grant.
A word about recent high school graduates and their bands, they take them very seriously. I decided to forgo college and plow full steam ahead with my band. As foolish as this sounds, it ended up being the wisest decision at the time. While trying to make headway with my band, I was hired to be the male singer (the girl singer got to sing most of the songs I wanted to sing) of a pretty hard-working local cover band. This ended up being the best training a vocalist can get. The process was fast and furious, I was learning three to four new songs a week, and the stakes were pretty high, learn the song or make the whole band look stupid. Most of the music we played was whatever was popular at the time. There is nary a song from the 90’s that we didn’t cover. Matchbox 20, Third Eye Blind, Goo Goo Dolls, Gin Blossoms, Hootie and the Blowfish, I am pretty sure almost the entirety of these bands catalogs are still simmering somewhere in my brain. When you are singing in a pop/rock band, and you are performing songs people hear on the radio it opens you up to some pretty intense criticism, for example, “YOU SUCK” has been hurled at me on more than one occasion. However, for every hater, there is someone else telling you that you are great and that, my friends, is intoxicating.
As my involvement with the cover band grew, my ambitions for the original band fell by the wayside. First of all, there was the whole “Christian” thing that never fit me well. Secondly, after the initial positive feedback we received from audiences we decided to self-produce, we sunk a lot of money (that none of us had) into a local recording studio and shifty producer only to end up with boxes and boxes of cd’s that mostly sat in my parent’s garage for years. When you are 19 and foolishly optimistic these are the mistakes you make. Oh, well live and learn.
Sidebar, since the 90s were essentially irony-free, our cd cover was an image of grey clouds with the silhouette of a huge bird soaring through the air. I mean, seriously, what the Hell was that?
Tomorrow’s chapter: All Hail Thespis
Jason Cooper has worked in professional, regional, and community theatre for over twenty years. After receiving his BFA in theatre performance he spent three seasons with the award-winning Playhouse on the Square in Memphis, TN. After working in theatres all over the country for a time, Jason settled in Chicago and worked with The Chicago Dramatists, Apple Tree Theatre, and Red Moon Theatre before returning home to Louisville to become a high school English teacher. Locally, Jason has worked extensively as an actor and director primarily for Pandora Productions, CenterStage, The Bard’s Town, Derby Dinner Playhouse, and Stage One.