There isn’t a particularly definitive way to describe the music of Liz Cooper & the Stampede. The Nashville-based trio’s songs are often dreamy and spacious, with the production and arrangements evoking the folk rock and psychedelic pop of the '60s and '70s.
It’s much more than that, however – there’s quite a lot of emphasis on groove and the vocals are unique in style and melodic approach. These elements all combine to create something that’s caught the attention of a national audience over the last few years, and deservedly so.
Those ‘60s and ‘70s influences are certainly prominent, and it makes sense given Cooper’s musical background. The singer and songwriter, who’ll be with her band at The Jinx on Fri., Feb. 15, grew up immersed in a diverse collection of music that her parents exposed her to.
“I definitely listened to a lot of ‘90s music, because I’m a ‘90s baby. All the pop stuff that my parents just absolutely loathed,” Cooper tells Connect.
“They made me listen to Bob Dylan, which I absolutely loathed. But at some point I was like, ‘Wow, this stuff is actually incredible.’ I started to really dig into songwriting, with [Dylan] specifically. I’ve also always listened to The Beatles – that’s probably my number one favorite band in the universe.”
Though Dylan, Joni Mitchell, The Beatles, and even The Doors were formative figures for Cooper early on, the kindred sonic and musical direction she went in for her first full-length Window Flowers wasn’t necessarily calculated.
“There wasn’t anything specific I was going for with this record,” she says. “At this point, we’ve been playing [the songs] for almost three years. I wasn’t like, ‘I’m going to make this kind of record and tour on these songs.’”
Playing the songs live for so long gave Cooper and her bandmates the opportunity to gauge audience reaction and truly woodshed them before going into the studio to work on what would become Window Flowers. When it came time to record, the songs naturally evolved and morphed thanks to time spent on the road and collaborations with the album’s co-producer.
“From then until now, especially, so much has changed with the songs,” she explains.
“When we went into the studio, we had them the way that we liked them. But we also collaborated with [co-producer] TJ Elias, so it was nice to have that outer mind to come in and make us look at things differently. We worked so intensely when we were in the studio that we were rethinking how to play things live, and from there we played more and more and were getting better and better.”
One thing that’s unmistakable about Cooper and the Stampede is that they tour a lot. Their current album release tour is impressively extensive, and they’ve committed themselves to the unique experience of being a touring unit.
One standout experience on the road was a support slot with Bermuda Triangle, a project that features Alabama Shakes’ singer Brittany Howard and acclaimed artists Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser.
“I don’t usually get the opportunity to tour with many women. I thought that was a really cool thing,” she says. “I look up to Brittany, and she’s also just a really down to earth human. All of them I really love and connected to.”
Though Cooper admits that there are ups and downs on the road, she says she truly loves what she does.
“I love being out on the road. There are so many amazing things that people don’t get to experience and we do get to experience,” she says.
“It’s cool because we get to go to these different cities and do things on our own time in a way. We’re doing it ourselves, and people come to shows that you’d never expect to ever see,” she says.
“Like, you went to middle school with someone who now lives in Phoenix, Arizona. And you probably think, ‘I’m never going to see them again.’ But then they randomly come to your show and you reconnect with them. That’s a really special thing about touring.”