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JET PACK - DENNIS COOK

Jet Pack are a Worcester based band fronted by Dennis Cook, a vocalist and guitarist with a love for cooking great vegan dishes. Alongside fronting the four piece, he embraces a wholesome vegan lifestyle. We had a chance to catch up with him and discovered how he'd love to be crowned champion of song writing, how every gig's a gamble and how he's an awkward vegan being 'that guy' in restaurants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
Emily Clarkson: Your latest EP is called ‘Chasing Sunsets’. As a band, what are you chasing?
Dennis Cook: Chasing our dream of making music for a living. It has been a long race but feels like we are gaining.

EC: In September you tweeted, ' I think I've just set a new bar for my song writing.' Tell us about that new bar. Out of all the songs you've written, are there any particular subjects you've written about that you're most glad you got out?
DC: You are always trying to raise the bar in your own mind. If you didn't you would get stale and bored. It's hard not to measure yourself against your contemporaries but you need to focus inwards. I believe the key to developing new ideas and improving your craft is always measuring against yourself. One subject in particular that I had to get out was this feeling when you feel so close to someone but they push you away. Maybe, one day this song will be heard by the world.

EC: You once tweeted, 'I am forever in awe of Dustin Kensrue and Jesse Lacey's song writing abilities.' Why are you in awe of their talents in particular?
DC: They tell great stories in refreshing ways and just bare it all. Their words hold real weight whether they are writing about themselves or someone else. "Beggars" by Thrice has some of the best lyrics I've ever heard.

EC: You have a song called 'This Nightmare'. Have you had any nightmarish moments with the band?
DC: Haha aside from van breakdowns, song writing spats, and the occasional pointless argument about direction/photography/artwork it's pretty much amazing. If I had to pick one it's when our friend Tom who wrote a big portion of that song had to leave the band. When we crack it though we are bringing him back along for the ride.

EC: You posted about going to the casino on a band night out. What's the biggest gamble you've taken in your life?
DC: Everything is a gamble really. If we are talking financially, every gig is. Stylistically, picking a producer is. Buying our van was a massive gamble. We thought it wouldn't make it out of the garage. But it did... Then broke down 10hrs later at a gig.

EC: Have you taken any gambles in your actual music?
DC: The title track of our most recent EP "Chasing Sunsets" is a 7 minute acoustic/electronic song featuring Lauren Pryke. From the outside I guess people would look at it as a gamble, but it was one that paid off. It is a lot of people's favourite track.

EC: You posted a video online of your set in Barrow-in-Furness. Do you find this a good way to reach out to those who may not know your music or have seen you live? How well does the live experience translate over the net?
DC: It's good to get the music out there but desk mixes are unforgiving and you lose the moment. The beauty of live music to me are the blue notes, the sweat, the energy, the people. When you capture the moment forever on video sometime you lose the magic. But it is a great way to promote your band.

EC: For anyone that hasn't seen you live yet, or watched any live songs from your show on the internet, what's a Jet Pack show like?
DC: Sweaty, energetic and genuine. No synchronised moves or "rock star" attitude. Just four friends jumping around, playing loud music.

EC: You're vegan but became vegetarian before you become vegan. What made you go veggie in the first place?
DC: I just decided that it wasn't for me. I didn't want to be part of a supply chain based of violence. I thought "what right do I have to pick the remains of another living being off a shelf in in a shop like it is perfectly okay". The problem is detachment.

EC: You became vegan after using hair wax, when thinking that it could have been tested on animals, and how hypocritical you felt. Do you think if more people knew about hair products and other products being tested on animals, they wouldn't use the products? Do you think companies should be more up front about whether they test on animals, seeing as you normally only get told when they DON'T test on animals?
DC: On the face of it no. People already know what goes on in our society and the cosmetics industry in particular. People knowing doesn't matter really. People have to start thinking and caring about it.

EC: Last year animal testing for cosmetics was finally banned in UK and the EU. How did you feel when that happened?
DC: To be honest I missed that one initially - sometimes being in a band you are in a bubble. I think it's a good start but as I said previously, real change will only come when people change their beliefs and perspective on animal rights and not just their laws. That's the easy bit.

EC: Are there any other products you no longer use after finding out they came as a result of animal cruelty? Are there any that you think people would be surprised about?
DC: In terms of cruelty: any cosmetic or cleaning products. I generally research what I buy on that front. In terms of animal products in different foods, drinks, goods, etc. people always seem to be surprised with lanolin in razor blades, isinglass in beers and anything with honey in. People don't seem to get that I don't eat honey and that a bee is, in fact, an animal.

EC: In 'Jealousy [Feat. Kayleigh Knight]' you sing, 'turn the other way'. Do you think people turn the other way and try and pretend that cruelty to animals doesn't exist, so it doesn't affect them?  
DC: I do think people pretend it doesn't exist but they seem to ignore the elephant being poached in the room. Ignorance is bliss after all...

EC: You describe yourself as an 'awkward vegan' in the band biography. Why awkward?
DC: Haha because I am always a nightmare in a restaurant. I am "that guy."

EC: What's the most awkward moment you've had in your life? Any awkward on-stage moments?
DC: We played the worst acoustic gig of all time at soccer six last year. I was drunk, the sound man was drunk, the sound was awful. Nobody could hear a thing on or off stage. That was lovely.

EC: Rich plays Rugby while Sam was a taekwondo champion in 1996. Do you do anything sporty? How important is it to stay fit and healthy to tour as a musician?
DC: I used to play rugby and American football. I don't really do enough exercise these days due to how much time being in Jet Pack takes up. But being gig fit is very important, it means better more consistent performance, especially when your live show is as energetic as ours.

EC: Jim Morris is a 78 year old vegan body builder who's just posed for a new PETA advert. Some people are surprised that there are some great vegan bodybuilders. German's strongest man, Patrik Baboumian is also vegan. What would you say the biggest misconceptions about vegans and the vegan diet are that you've come across? And have you noticed any health benefits since becoming vegan?
DC: When I became a vegetarian I noticed a difference in my weight and physique within a month. I definitely got a little leaner. Most people are all about "where do you get your protein?" or think you eat bland, tasteless food. They generally change their mind when you cook them a home made vegan pizza or a delicious desert. Being gig fit is massively important in a band. It means consistent, energetic performance. Admittedly, I don't do enough exercise but since being vegan I find that I have pretty good fitness anyway.

EC: If you could be champion at anything, what would you most likely be crowned the champion of?
DC: Champion of awesome song writing. I think that'd work for me.

EC: What are your thoughts on Morrissey putting in his contract that he will only play shows if meat is not sold at the venue? Is combining music and personal ethics a great move to promote a meat-free lifestyle or do you think fans should be allowed to eat what they want at venues? Would you like to see more vegan food at venues?
DC: Yes, more vegan food at venues would be great as fast, easy food can be a nightmare when you are out and about at venues. I believe that people should be able to eat what they want in general but I'd hope they make better decisions. In terms of Morrissey, he is provocative and his stance is not surprising. I think it's great that he provokes conversation and consideration towards vegetarianism.

EC: Your name is perfect as you like to cook. We got a dehydrator at New Year and have been making lots of raw chips (cheesy kale, banana etc). What is the best thing you've bought or obtained to help with cooking, and what are some of your favourite vegan meals to cook?
DC: I love a good vegan lasagne or a mushroom burger. I have been thinking about a dehydrator as I want to move a little more into raw food – not entirely though. I'd say a good sharp knife and decent chopping board are a cook's best friend. If you have those, you're set.

EC: Have you watched the Vegan Black Metal Chef's videos - and how about making some Vegan Jet Pack Chef videos!?
DC: I haven't see those yet. Will have to check them out. Haha maybe, the only issue is that I have so much going on with the band that I don't know where I would fine the time. I do love cooking though. I may start to compile a recipe book...

 

For more info, visit www.facebook.com/wearejetpack or www.wearejetpack.co.uk

 

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