2012 guitarist Eli Cook released his CD, Ace, Jack &
King to great acclaim in both the rock world and the blues-rock
world. Highly rated among the new breed of American blues-rock guitarists
/ composers / vocalists making waves in the early 21st century, Eli
Cook carries the spirit of the blues forward with his 2014 album entitled
Primitive Son. As excellent as Ace, Jack &
King is, Elis Primitive Son album is even more commercially
accessible, no doubt inspired by guest appearances from big name artists
such as fellow guitarists Leslie West, Sonny Landreth,
Pat Travers, Harvey Mandel and Tinsley Ellis
as well as drummer Vinny Appice and many other fine players.
with such a star-studded lineup of artists enhancing the festivities,
Eli also gets solid support from his core rhythm section of
Rob Richmond (bass) and Wade Warfield (drums). For a
younger musician, Cook raises the roof and gets excellent mileage
out of his guit-arsenal throughout the CD. With its wide ranging selection
of driving, electric blues-rock numbers, Primitive Son is Cooks
first album on Cleopatra Records, a label well known for teaming up
artists on various albums, tributes and compilations. Elis implementation
of Cleopatras super-session logic puts a glossy shine on an
album that sonically blasts blues-rock deeper into the 21st century.
mwe3.com presents an interview with
Where are you living now and where are you from originally?
ELI COOK: I am currently making camp in Charlottesville, Virginia.
I grew up in the rural agricultural area just south of town. It is
an ideal local; rural and beautiful but with a progressive, small-college
town nearby that really supports the arts, and no more than 7 or 8
hours from most of the primary east coast cities.
mwe3: How did the Primitive Son album take shape and
how would you compare it to your last album, Ace, Jack & King
both in style and content?
ELI COOK: Primitive Son was an amalgamation of the roots/blues/grunge-metal
approach that I have been developing over several records and a more
melodic, less intense vibe; mainly because it is a label release and
also because so many of the tunes feature guest artist appearances.
I had to keep the song-writing in a more "mass-appeal" kind
The album is by far the most professional sounding that I have done.
We took a lot of time tweaking the production value; guitar tones,
vocal performances, etc. and it was really my first swing at a commercial
I would say that my "sound" is much richer now than before.
The songs vary more dramatically in feel, vibe, etc., but they all
sit together well. Whereas before, recording projects tended to lean
heavily in one direction as far as overall mood, this one moves around
more... there is light and dark, so to speak. I think that is a sign
of musical maturity... at least I hope that's what it is!
What were the recording sessions like and did you get to record in
the same room with some of the guest artists?
ELI COOK: I got to record in the room, live with Vinny Appice
and Jorgen Carlsson for the song "Revelator". That was a
wonderful experience that will stay with me. They are both incredible
players, and it manifests both in their performance and in their interaction
with others. It was very zen, but in an extremely efficient and bad-ass
I also got to work with Artimus Pyle in person in the studio. He is
a classic 1960's style player, and that really came through in the
track. It helped define the parts and how the piece would flow, and
was very different from the other songs because of that.
Leslie West is an idol of mine, hands down. I got my Les Paul Junior
because of him. We did not get to meet during the recording process,
but I feel very honored to have him guest on the track "Motor
Queen". I thought it would be only fitting to have Leslie jam
on the most honky-tonkin' bar rock number on the album!
What do you think of the current state of blues-rock, both in the
US and elsewhere? It seems to still be a growing genre thats
ELI COOK: Thanks to the internet, blues-rock is readily available
to study. But the real deal is still an emotion, and that cannot be
impersonated; it is only an expression of life experience. Did John
Lee Hooker think about commercial status initially? Maybe later in
his career, but in the beginning he was purely being himself. That
is what makes great art: genuine self-expression. So, if you want
to experience the real deal, you still need to go to a live show...
and you still need to invest the time and money into buying a record
in-person and listening to it.
mwe3: What guitars are you playing on the Primitive Son
album and did you use use a lot of effects and sonic enhancing
devices? How about amps that you favor in the studio and on stage?
ELI COOK: Many... mostly P-90 equipped axes. I mainly play
a Strat live, but for recording, I find that P-90's make a nice "best
of both worlds".
As far as effects, I use amp gain, a little crybaby wah wah, and some
delay. You can play a show with any band using that. The purest signal
possible is a good axe and a quality amp; a musical player will make
that work. I used multiple amps; JCM 800 Marshall, a Super-Reverb,
an Egnator, an old Champ... and that, plus the guitar, is what makes
mwe3: What are your plans for 2014? Tell us about the tour
coming up and what directions you're planning to take your music in
COOK: In 2014 I am touring the US and promoting the new album.
I have a few great opening slots for Tab Benoit, John Mayall and others.
There is another album in the early stages of preproduction already,
also. And as always, I am constantly looking for new artists to work
with and listen to... there is a lot left to learn! I would like to
do a heavier rock album, and I would also like to do a more rootsy,
acoustic recording in the near future.
to Eli Cook and Neva Cook at www.EliCook.com