Tony Cook Interview: In the Deep End

Tony Cook Interview: In the Deep End

  • June 07, 2010

Interview with inthedeepend.com.au published June 2010. Tony Cook's "Video Rock" 12-inch single is coming this summer on Stones Throw, to be followed by the album Back to Reality.

Since In The Deep End was made Live last week we’ve been spending a lot of time trying to organise the future for us. We got extremely lucky and scored some amazing interviews with some really interesting musicians, keep your eyes peeled as they will start getting posted soon. One of the first I would like to share with you is an email interview I shared with legendary Tony Cook. A name that many a youngster would be unfamiliar with, however never fear as the next segment of this post is about to change all that.

Tony Cook has been producing/writing funk records for many years now, since he was 12 years old. He has played drums for James Brown, released what is still noted to this day as “The first house record” and is now coming back with hot releases about to drop on Stones Throw Records. Once again, if you’re not familiar with this label, now is the time to get involved. They are releasing a broad variety of music right now, with one thing in common. It’s all good.

Recently signing an album to Stones Throw Records, we’ve already seen quite an interesting collaboration with Dam Funk. Are there going to be more collabs on the record?
The CD/LP to be released is title Back To Reality. Dam-Funk is the only Stones Throw artist appearing on this compilation. There will be collaborations on other projects.

Do you have any fond (or not so fond) memories of your time performing with the great James Brown, it’s known that he could be a controlling band leader, what was his reaction when you decided to start your own band, Tony Cook & The Party People?
I first started working for Brown in 1976. He didn’t like you playing with other groups or doing outside projects. In 1980 I moved to Europe and formed Tony Cook and the Party People, but Brown made a deal with me to join him whenever he came to tour in Europe.

In the end of 1983/1984 when I was back in the U.S., he was having problems with the band, but there were some of us he could call who would be there to help him out if we could. As years past many things got to be okay with him.

“On The Floor” is still quoted as the first ever house track, did you intend to create a legendary track there and then? As it still has quite a “jam” vibe about it.
I recorded “On the Floor” in Atlanta at the end of 1983 and it was released in 1984. Timmy Regisford & Boyd Jarvis did the mix. We knew it was different – it started out as a rap song, then we took the rap out, it wasn’t just a dance song, it wasn’t just techno it was something different.

Are you looking to release some new music through Stones Throw after this album or was this project intended to get a lot of your old material off of the tapes and onto wax?
Peanut Butter Wolf and the Stones Throw guys are good to work with, I’m looking forward to release some other stuff.

As somebody that’s had a chance to sit back and watch music progress, what do you think of the music that is getting made these days, and do you have any younger artists that you are into?
I come from a time when recordings mostly was bands in the 70s. We would record all of the musicians at the same time, with some fixes later. In the 80s I got used to recording individual tracks – the sound was better that way but the feel was different. In the 90s I was involved in more rapper projects. I had a deal with a German Label Yomama Records - I did two albums with them - then they had the idea to put together a compilation rap LP with different rappers using the same track so they pick one of my songs off the Tony Cook’s Trunk-o-Funk EP. The title was “Simply Wicked.” Sampling was already around but that was the first time one of my songs was use that way.  One of the artists is was a hip-hop group in Germany called Absolute Beginner.

I think music will always go back to the 70’s & 80’s because you had a little bit of the old and the new.

Do you have any synths or hardware that you absolutely couldn’t live without?
There was some equipment I wish I hadn’t sold, but I’m from the Old School, you learn to assimilate.

If you could pick any artist, new or old, to collaborate on a record with. Who would it be?
I’m always open to work with other artist on other projects. Stones Throw has some interesting artist I’m already doing some collaborating with - Dam-Funk of course, and also J. Rocc, James Pants, Mayer Hawthorne and Peanut Butter Wolf. After we release Back to Reality we’ll see were we go.

When starting out as a musician, what/who/where did you draw most inspiration from?
I’m from Augusta GA. When I was about 12 or 13, I put a band together with a friend and his father was our music teacher. Augusta was a music town back then.  I learn how to play professionally backing artists like Z.Z. Hill and Geater Davis.