Interview with Scott Cook
Scott Cook Opens Up About Touring, Songwriting and Empathy
Earlier this month, we travelled to the Port Fairy Folk Festival and, after being mightily impressed with the set and humanity of Scott Cook, we connected with him, leading to the interview below. Scott is a fascinating and caring man, a wonderful wordsmith and brilliant communicator. Judging by the length of the line at the signing desk immediately after his show, it was not just us that were blown away by his performance. Scott is currently on tour in Australia. Enjoy!
LTTL: How are you finding the Festival of Small Halls tour? I believe there’s one in Canada too. I assume you are finding small audiences but the majority of whom are seeing you for the first time? And you get to go to places you’ve not been to before presumably?
SC: Yeah, the concept actually came from Prince Edward Island in Canada, and was started here in Australia by the good folks at Woodfordia. I’m loving this tour. I’ve been to Australia eight or nine times already, and played a lot around rural VIC, but all but two of the places we’re playing are new to me. The audiences have been really receptive, and it’s so good touring with a team. Folk Bitch Trio are a great band and great people, plus we’ve got press and logistical support from Woodfordia, a stellar tour manager who does all the driving, and a great tech bringing all the sound and lights in another van. I’m not used to this level of rockstardom!
You live in Canada, have family in Michigan and are on tour a lot. How would you share your time between them all in a normal year?
I usually try to get to most places once every year or two, but there’s a lot of world to cover. I’ve sadly got no plans to get to Nova Scotia, California, or Tassie anytime soon. I haven’t been to my second home Taiwan since 2019, but I hope to make it back in November. I haven’t been to Europe since 2016, but I’m hoping to get back there in 2024. Since I started paying more attention to my carbon footprint (and buying offsets for all the traveling I do), I’ve been working on going slower and staying longer in each place. It’s just such a big world, and it gets bigger the more people and places you connect with.
This is your ninth visit to Australia? Obviously, local word of mouth has helped create a larger following over time, but is there a special affinity you feel you have with people here?
Eighth or ninth, yeah. I really love this country––the land, the people, the sense of humour. And I’ve been really lucky here. I’ve met the right people. I’ve felt incredibly welcomed. And I bought a campervan on my second trip that still runs!
Your latest albums have been decorated with the most detailed, creative and informative booklets. All of this is great for us music lovers, but would add to your production costs., as well as taking heaps of time. Give us your thoughts on why you do this?
I’ve loved liner notes since I was a kid looking through my parents’ record collection. As the listening experience has gone increasingly online, I’m still in love with the idea of an album as a set of songs––a snapshot of a band or artist in a particular place and time, wrapped up in a story––and I think physical albums, whether they’ve got a CD in the back or not, still offer that. My albums all have the words and chords in them as well, in case folks want to learn to sing and play them. And they’re another way to put down my thoughts and send them out into the world. I wanted to be a writer before I wanted to be a folksinger, and this lets me feed two birds with one hand.
You seem to be incessantly on tour. Tell me what you like most about being on the road. What’s the least attractive?
Being on the road is what drew me to this life in the first place. I love getting a feel for different places and different ways of life. And it supports my hard-won conviction that people are people, most folks are decent and generous, we’ve got more in common than divides us, and that everywhere, under the radar, people are working on really inspiring, important stuff. It keeps me hopeful and furnishes constant reminders of the kindness of strangers. But I also really got a taste for staying put during the pandemic. After thirteen years of roads, it was really wonderful to be in one place, to watch the seasons change, to narrow my focus, and to build more of a daily routine with room for all the things I want to work on.
Your songs reflect your fervent and optimistic view of the world and humanity, the need to do the right thing by our fellow mortals and the planet. Is that a fair comment?
Yeah, that pretty much sums up what I’m on about.
Where was the cover picture on the front cover of your album Further Down The Line (2017) taken and why use it?
For me, it looks like the title of the album. It was taken in the Grampians, overlooking Halls Gap, a few hundred meters past the “Keep Out” sign [ed: regional Victoria, Australia).
Where do your travels take you next after Australia?
I’ll be home for about five days before my partner Pamela and I take off on another tour in our campervan Roadetta, heading down for a loop through the Carolinas, Tennessee, Texas and Colorado, and back to Canada for festival season. We’ll be out for most of the year, after which we’re hoping to go to Taiwan, and onward to New Zealand and Australia in early 2024. We’ll be continuing our monthly solar-powered livestreams from the back of the van, so folks can follow us on tour if they want.
Are you working on some new songs and a stint in the studio for your next album? Can you reveal anything to us?
I’ve been writing a song a month for Patreon (www.patreon.com/scottcooksongs) for almost two years now, and that’s been really great for staying motivated. I’m starting to think about making another album, and I’m gonna get input from those supporters––I call them my Fellow Travellers––about which songs belong on it. I don’t know yet where I’ll record or who’ll be on it, but these things take time to germinate. The best place to keep up with all of that is www.scottcook.net where there’s a sign-up box right at the top to get my monthly Hobo Travelogues.
Thanks so much for that chat, and for all you do. Stay kind and see you down the road!
Thanks for your time Scott!
More Music Adventures Await!
Interview with Scott Cook