Spotlight on … Cooper Dustman (Helsott).

*When did you really get involved into music in general and into metal specific? Who was responsible for your interest in (metal) music?

As a child, old jazz and funk music were in my household. I grew up listening to the classics of old 40’s swing, ’50s/ 60’s rock, and 70’s funk music. Bands like Mammas and Pappas, Motown, The Beach Boys, Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, and even newer jazz vocal acts like Take 6 and The Manhattan Transfer. As for my adolescence, my good friend Andrew and I stumbled upon “Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia” from Dimmu Borgir and “Slaughter the Soul” from At The Gates and we became obsessed!

*Which artists or bands did influence you the most?

In middle / high school it was Dimmu Borgir, Blind Guardian, Venom, Morbid Angel, Immortal, Judas Priest, Death, and Cannibal Corpse. I couldn’t stop listening to them! Then, discovering groups like Enslaved and Obtest intrigued me with their medieval and folkish elements. When I joined HELSOTT, other groups like Ensiferum, Finntroll, Korpiklaani, Moonsorrow, Månegarm, Thyrfing, Arkona, Skyforger and Falkenbach solidified the kind of metal that felt like home. The Pagan / Folk metal era in particular heavily inspired all of us to create something in a more hybrid direction.

*Which instrument do you play and how and when did you learn to play? Did you have lessons in school or private lessons? If so, was that because your parents expected that from you? Or did you learn to play the instruments by yourself? Do you still follow some lessons?

I play drums and I started when I was about 2 years old with wooden spoons on pots and pans, huge credit to my auntie Jill and Uncle Bill (that must have been annoying). My parents recognized the natural love for it and had my first gig in their Vocal Jazz band called Beachfront Property around the age of 16. I am self-taught and it wasn’t until my early 20’s that I took a few lessons in college with my good friend Phil Carillo. My first drum book was “Advanced Techniques for the Modern Drummer ” by Jim Chapin and as of recently, I went through Marthyn’s double bass training course. I am now currently on Eric Moores Chop book, he’s a true beast!

*Do you listen to or are you interested in other styles of music besides rock / metal? If so, what is the kind of music you prefer to listen to?

Honestly I love so many different styles and genres of music, it’s a problem! Funk, jazz, synthwave, folk, epic, chill. I have been working with some drumless music known as “Shedtracks” by Carlin Muccular. Also, Kaz Rodriguez has some great drumless tracks to play along to, I feel like their music is making me a better drummer. The goal is to bring a song alive and they both are a huge inspiration to make my own drumless tracks for practice and performance.

*Is music a full time job for you now or do you have a job beside music? If so, what kind of job are you doing? If you would be really successful with music, would you quit your other job?

Music is my life, but currently, I’m bartending at a Speakeasy in Temecula wine country. I truly enjoy craft cocktails and making an experience for the community I live in. It’s given me the ability to afford all the gear and the other demands of being a musician and living in California. My dream is to be a full-time songwriter / musician, being able to tour and work from home to make my living. I enjoy bartending, but my heart tells me that my true power to serve is in the world of music. Everyone has their own path in life’s journey and I think one must traverse even the most treacherous of realms to achieve their destiny.

*If you could start a completely new band (something like an all-star band) with other musicians on other instruments, which artists would you pick for which instrument and why? Would you still go for a thrash / (melodic) death / pagan metal band?

Rather than start up a band, I would do a folk / pagan style metal collaboration with all the musicians we have met and toured with over the years. Almost like an ode to the past, present, and future for the genre itself. Somehow, maybe with a real orchestra, and all the different folk solo instruments. It makes me think of Pangea when all countries were one! Not sure if I’d do just a long 30-minute song or if each band makes a song for a record.

*If you had been banned to an uninhabited island and you may pick 5 albums to listen to, which albums would you choose and why?

An interesting situation, ok.. I would have to go with: ‘Cowboys From Hell’, ‘Powerslave’, ‘Puppet Master’, ‘…And Justice For All’, and ‘Steppenwolf’. Hopefully, there are enough resources on this island to survive, otherwise, at least I’ll die to a nice soundtrack.

*Every new album of a band or an artist is the best one, so they say. So here is a chance to promote your album. Why should a music lover buy your album? What are the standout tracks for you on this new album and why?

‘Will And The Witch” is our first time adding a twist of the old west into our style. It’s a “Wild Western Pagan Metal” saga that rips your fucking ears off! We don’t care what you think, we’re here to stake our claim and represent the history of our country. If you like metal music and having a good time, you’ll know where we come from. This was designed for live performance and parties alike so COME AND GET SOME!!!

See “CD-Review” for a review (written in Dutch) for the new Helsott album ‘Will And The Witch’ (M-Theory Audio) –

*Is there a chance that you will promote these songs through live concerts? If so, would you prefer small clubs or big festivals? And is there a chance we can see HELSOTT in Belgium?

We are heavily promoting this record and plan on performing the album live in its entirety. I love the intimacy of smaller venues, but it would be better for us to land some of the other great European Metal festivals that we’ve yet to experience. I have heard great things about Kilkim Žaibu, Bloodstock, Metal Days, Summer Breeze, Brutal Assault, and Hellfest. After playing Wacken and releasing the new record, we feel like this is very achievable! There is definitely a good chance of us coming through Belgium in the future, if we go to Europe we have to build a larger tour to hit as many countries as we can while we’re out there. Bottoms up!!