Chats with Ben Cooper - by Ryan Williams / by Ryan Williams

Blip blip blip. Ben Cooper has been on the Mirage radar for three years. Blip blip blip.

Ever since we've been a magazine, Ben has been an amazing supporter of what we do. Blip blip blip. I caught up with Ben on the deck of the Red October and sipped coffee served by a crotchety Sean Connery. Blip blip blip. Nah, we just went to Suspension and checked out the renovations (they look good).

Ben Cooper is one of the people behind booking/management company Love + Rent. If you go out and watch live music at one of our many live music venues, chances are Ben has had his hand in there somewhere helping out behind the scenes.

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Ben: I just noticed the other day, has it been three years since you guys started Newcastle Mirage?

Yeah! This is the 37th issue now. 

I feel like I remember the first ones being printed just the other day.

Me too! It's so weird. You knew Kian when he worked at the Student Association, didn't you?

Yeah! I remember seeing him in the bookshop. 

Did he do any work there? I always felt like he was cruising around, sipping on a coffee.

Yeah, it was a nice place to be [laughs].

You studied at the TAFE when he was there?

I did my Cert. III in Music & Business, as well as my diploma. 

How long ago was that?

Two and a half years ago, I think. 

Now, you just got back from a show in Wollongong too?

It was awesome! It was such a nice little venue to be in.

Split Feed?

Yeah! Split Feed and MVRKS (pronounced Mav-er-icks) just finished up a four-day east coast run of shows. 

The BBQ?

Yeah, the 'meat raffle at the bowlo' – the most heinous false advertising. It was hilarious. We went to Newcastle, Sydney, Cronulla and Wollongong. The last one was at Rad Bar in Wollongong, a tiny, 80-capacity venue. 

For someone who doesn't know a whole lot about the other side of the music business, how do you and Love + Rent fit in?

So Love + Rent is a booking agency-slash-management-slash-promotions-slash-touring-slash-little bit of everything company. I manage Split Feed and Introvert.

They've just been recording?

Yep! At Tommirock [Studios]. They've been killing it. 

That's going to sound so good with Mitta engineering it.

He's so open and excited to experiment. It's really cool.

They seemed to get really big really quickly – maybe I'm late to the party though.

No, they haven't really played that many shows. They're also supporting Basement on Thursday, which they're all super excited about. After that show it'll mean that they've played with a total of three international bands in the space of one month. We did the tour for The Saddest Landscape from the USA, and now they're playing with Basement as well as Turnover on the same gig. 

So is Love + Rent just you? 

No, Love + Rent is three people. Me, Jessie and Courtney, both from Sydney. Jessie manages Grizzly Adams as well as the bookings for The Red Rattler down there. Courtney only just started working with us, she's starting to work on club nights down there at the moment. Jessie and I do some touring for bands as well. The last one was Self Defense Family when they came from the US last time. We've also worked with Resist, helped out with them on the East Coast. There's heaps that goes on behind the scenes. 

Is it only heavy-ish music?

Usually, yeah. We're starting to branch out a little more now. Courtney actually just started managing a trap artist down in Sydney.

What is trap music?

Pretty grimy, British-club-music type stuff. Super intense.

I didn't really know what to ask you [laughs]. I talk to a lot of musicians but not really a lot of promoters. Did you play music originally? 

I've played drums since I was six, studied music in high school and all that. I finished school and didn't know what I wanted to do, so I tried TAFE and I liked it. I remember one of our assignments was to run a gig. My friend Amy and I made up this mock name for a booking agency, Throwdown Music, an instant joke. 

We put on a pop/punk night – you know how it's all pizza and TV and parties and all that shit. We called it Pizza My Mind, five bands on at the Cambo. It went really well. I remember paying the bands at the end of the night and most had never been paid to play before.

Some venues just don't seem to care about looking after the artists. 

Some promoters as well. There are dodgy people out there. They'll take advantage of younger bands that don't really know what's going on. It's such a touchy subject for everybody – and some people use it to their advantage.

If you’re just some kid, you don't want to ask this old dude who gave you a chance.

So many bands I've worked with always come back surprised to get any money.

Business mixed with fun.

It's great. Stressful, but great [laughs].

What else are you working on?

Last year me and Jessie did a festival in Sydney, working with a guy in a band called Jacob (his name is Chris). We did a show called This One's For Mum, a mini-festival with half the proceeds going to Supported Accommodation & Homelessness Services and the other half to Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT) which was great. We've just announced we're going to do a second one toward the end of the year.

We also do these punk-rock style flea markets. We just did a Newcastle one called How to Sell Everything over at Joe Anderson's new venue.

With Gibbo and Liam?

Yeah! 

They're on my list to talk to!

Such good dudes.

 

If you’re a punk, hardcore or alternative band, or if you just want to see more of what Love + Rent is all about, check out facebook.com/lovenrent.