Monday, August 29, 2011

Q&A with Layla Cooper from the Wrong Words

Layla Cooper is the bee's knees, ya'll. She's been in a handful of rad bands and is a kick ass drummer. Her latest band, The Wrong Words, just released a full-length self-titled LP on Trouble in Mind Records.

Kelly: Hi Layla!! What are some of your early musical influences and do you remember the first record you ever bought?

Layla: I remember exactly the very first records I bought. I grew up in Tucson, AZ and I was in the 7th grade when I read an article about riot grrrl in a magazine. I asked my mom to take me down to Toxic Ranch records (which is still there, by the way), where I bought my first purchases (on vinyl): Bikini Kill S/T, Jane's Addiction" XXX Live Album", and the Lemonheads "Hate Your Friends." Not long after I got really into surf and garage music and bought a 60s Gibson organ after becoming obsessed with the song "96 Tears." There was a very strong garage scene in the early/mid 90s in Tucson. Some of my favorite bands as a teen were the Drags, the Gories, Supercharger -- all bands with super cool ladies in them!

K: Are there record(s) in your collection that make people drool, if so, please fill me in.

L: I don't know how to answer this because I don't tend to buy records for their collectability. I certainly have been lucky to stumble upon some cool things over the years of digging through dusty record shops. Probably the most expensive record I ever bought was an original copy of the Milk n Cookies album that I bought on eBay. Back then it was a holy grail item for me ... I guess the original is still hard to find but I know you can get a copy on tape from Burger Records and a vinyl reissue as well. I also bought a cool Barracudas test pressing single at the Pasadena flea market years ago. I think I paid $10 for it and the guy who sold it to me said that it was from Rodney Bingenheimer's collection but who knows if that is true! So many things that used to be difficult to find have been reissued now ... I know that a lot of collector snobs like to complain about that, but at least the music is available to folks and the collectors can still feel superior with their OG white label promos and such. :) (Oh yeah another gem from my collection is my Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution album that a very sweet and dear friend of mine named Kelly sent me for my birthday one year!!!!) WHO... ME?!! ;-)

K: You have an insanely good taste in music. Can you let us know some "hidden jewel"-type bands/singers from the 60's/70's/80's that we may not know about?

L: Ha, I also don't know how how to answer this one either. In this plentiful age of music downloading and reissues I don't even know what still qualifies as a "hidden jewel." I recently read a great article about Carol Kaye, who was a session musician with the wrecking crew. She played bass on sooooooooo many famous recordings in the 60s and 70s. Most people probably have no idea that the same woman is behind the scenes on all those recordings, so I definitely consider her to be a "hidden jewel" in that respect.

K: How long have you played the drums and can you let us know all the bands you've played in?

L: Well when I first wanted to learn to play the drums when I was 10 and really into Motley Crue. My mom let me sign up for marching band in school and I wrote in my diary that I wanted to be "just like Tommy Lee," but I was too bored playing on a plastic practice pad and quit not long after starting. I actually learned how to play drums when I was 15 at my friend Seth's house. We had a whole slew of bands in our teenage years including the Shimmy Beckers and the Knock-Ups. We moved out to SF when we were 18 and re-formed the Knock-Ups with our friends Karen and Bryan who now play in the Suspicions in Seattle. Later I was in a powerpop band called the Close-Ups, then in Top Ten and White Music, which later sort of morphed into the Wrong Words. Also, this past year I filled in for some shows with Hunx and his Punkettes and got to play with Seth again which was really fun. I am currently cooking up some special projects with some of my awesome lady friends that I am really looking forward to!

K: Out of all the shows you've ever played, what's your most memorable show?

L: Wow, hard to say. I've been on a bit of a nostalgia kick lately, having fond memories of a show I played when I was 17 and living in Tucson with the Drags and the Rondelles from Albuquerque, NM. I think I booked my younger brother's band to open!

K: What are some of your favorite modern bands?

L: Wow, there are really too many to list! This year I have been really in love with the albums put out by Detroit bands Conspiracy of Owls and the Pizazz. We just played with an amazing band from France called the Gaz Gaz that blew my mind. I've also been discovering the Latin American music scene. I recently went to Mexico City with my buddy Allyson for a show our friends Los Infierno (a current band who just put out a great album) played with the 60s bands Los Saicos and Los Sleepers! I've been learning about some cool Latin American bands like ... Los Peyotes from Argentina, Os Haxixins from Brazil, and I got this cool comp from a friend called "Brutales Matanzas" that has a bunch of current Mexican punk bands and a few from Peru. I'm going to Turkey and Italy in about a month, so I can't wait to see what kind of tunes I come back from that trip with! ***(To Layla from Kelly!!) When you go to Turkey, try to find records from a singer named Selda. My boyfriend turned me on to her music. She's amazing!! Sample one of her songs here.

K: OK, let's talk about The Wrong Words. Who are the other members, how did you meet them? Are they in other bands?

L: Josh Miller and I met when I joined White Music back in 2008. A couple of of Wrong Words songs were actually written by Josh back when we were in White Music together. After White Music broke up Josh and I were commiserating at the Attic one night. Our friend Ajax showed up and suggested that the three of us try playing together and the rest is history! Ajax is the front-man for a crazy Spinal Tap-style metal band called Thunderbleed and Josh plays in so many other bands around here ... Sir Lord Von Raven, the Greg Ashley Band, sometimes with Bart Davenport and Farmer Dave, and probably some other things I am forgetting.

K: The Wrong Words have been compared to The Quick, Nick Lowe, The Barracudas, etc... how would you describe your sound and what bands influenced your sound for this band?

L: All three of us have pretty different tastes in music, but there are definitely some common denominators that we can agree on. We all share an appreciation for not-too-perfect pop songs. I can tell you one thing we all don't agree on and that's the Replacements. Ajax thinks he doesn't like them but I'll be damned if I didn't see him dancing to "I Will Dare" when the Daed Pizza djs played it at our show in Brooklyn the other week.

K: Is the new album on Trouble in Mind Records your only release? Do you have plans for future releases, 45s, LPs, cassettes?

L: We have released a single and an LP on TiM as well as a song on TiMs 2011 Record Store Day 2011 7". I guess we're kind of "going steady" with Bill and Lisa. We're working on some new material right now, but I can't say for certain what the future holds for the Wrong Words!

K: Do you have any shows/tours coming up?

L: Yes! We are coming to LA over Labor Day weekend (THIS VERY weekend) to play some shows with our friends the White Wires and the Mean Jeans. You can see all the info here.

If you could drum for any band, old or new, what band would it be?

Ha, you know, I'm so bad at picking ONE of anything. I never can claim a favorite anything. What if I had been the drummer for ... The Pleasure Seekers?! Or Rockpile?! Or ... GG and the Jabbers?! It would be pretty funny if I got a call from Terry Adams to play in his version of NRBQ!

K: This isn't music-related, but you're a fellow foodie like me and inquiring minds want to know!! What is, hands-down, the best place to eat (savory) in the SF area?

L: Ha, well see my comment above! I can't say what the BEST place to eat is in SF, but I can say that my dying meal would probably be from Swan's Oyster Depot on Polk Street. I would order a dozen oysters, crab cocktail with sauce on the side, a cup of clam chowder and a pint of Anchor Steam beer. Actually, a lot of my favorite eating spots are in LA. I can't wait to go there this Thursday and eat with all my pals down there who I miss a ton!

K: What's the best dessert place in SF?

I don't know but I can tell you that the salted caramel pudding from Flora in Oakland regularly makes appearances in my dreams!

Check out this amazing flyer archive that Layla's friend, Jason Willis, put together of old band flyers - some of her early band's flyers are in here!!

This video is out of control CUTE CUTE CUTE!!!


  1. Carol Kane played with Hal Blaine and other members of the Wrecking Crew when the documentary on them was shown at the Mill Valley Film Festival. (I am their Creative Director when not hosting my syndicated radio shows and writing video games!)

    Email me at I'd love to be playing your music on my shows!


    (Dennis The Menace)

  2. BTW: This message above was for Layla - please pass it on!

  3. i really liked this interview! i wish i could find the knock-ups/chase split lp to listen to. i was happy to find some shimmy beckers recordings!

  4. That Wrong Words record is great

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