Napalm Death’s John Cooke: His Journey From Driver to Guitarist
Who knew that having a working knowledge of Star Wars and punk music could help land you a gig in one of metal's most revered bands? But that was the case for Napalm Death's John Cooke, who recently shared his story with The Music Experience's Squiggy during this edition of Gear Factor.
"I used to work at a recording studio in Birmingham in the U.K. and Napalm rehearse there and I had a job when I worked at the company to drop Danny [Herrera] and Shane [Embury] from Napalm at a recording session," recalled the guitarist. "So I was driving in the van and chatting to them and it was pretty cool, and we'd geek out about Star Wars stuff and just talk about old punk bands and stuff and eventually they asked me to come on tour with them."
Cooke worked his way up in the band's organization. "I was selling t-shirts because the person who they usually used couldn't do it. It was maybe about 12 years ago now and from there I ended up selling merch, I was a tour manager, driving them all over Europe, then one time Barney got sick and I jumped onstage and did vocals for a few songs. That was in Spain I think. And another time Shane had some problems and wasn't able to make three shows and one of them was Summer Breeze festival in Germany and I had to fill in on bass and learn the entire set in 24 hours."
Eventually, Cooke found a standing gig onstage with the group while filling in for Mitch Harris, who has been on hiatus since 2014.
Cooke also discusses the song that got him into music, the first guitar he ever owned and the Metallica classic that was the first song he ever learned to play. You'll want to stay through to the end of the video, as Cooke also busts out his favorite Napalm Death riff for the viewing audience.
Napalm Death are currently out on the road, rocking stages in Mexico and South America, followed by dates in Europe to finish out the year. See where they're playing here.
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