5 Questions with Rags #67 - Neil James Cooke-Dallin (Astrocolor, Stray Cougar, Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness)

A musical pillar of Victoria unto himself, Neil James Cooke-Dallin and his many projects – Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness, Stray Cougar and Astrocolor, my obsession of 2017 (into 2018, apparently) – have been helping keep my hometown way groovy and just a little bit more weird for some time now. It's actually kind of staggering the amount of creative energy this one human being seems to not only contain, but is able to harness and use effectively. “It's just what I love to do. They're all quite different, in terms of what I'm getting out of them. It's feeding a different part of my soul with each project.” It must be a pretty ravenous musical soul inside his body, because the homie never stops. A captivating performer, you should always take the chance to see Cooke-Dallin playing/mixing his music live, in the flesh, because it's always guaranteed to be high-creativity and high-accessibility, the hardest things to balance in music. I'm honoured that I finally got this colourful and endlessly delightful bean on the phone for a round of the 5 Questions, in which we discuss the glory of Quiet Riot, making music videos and Mr. Disney. 

If you're in and around Victoria, Astrocolor is having a release party for the final EP of their fantastic trilogy Friday, April 6 (But it's muchos sold out and you probably don't have a ticket) and Righteous Rainbows of Togetherness will be joining the Librarian and Mat the Alien next Friday, April 13, for a Bass Coast party (You can still get tickets for that). Get out and get weird.


1. Do you remember the first album that you bought with your own money?

<laughs> Yeah, I do. <more laughing> It was Quiet Riot Metal Health. My buddy's brother ended up getting two copies of it for Christmas one year, so he was selling one of them and I was in grade 2 and I bought a copy of Quiet Riot on the school playground from him.

I remember being weirded out as a kid the first time I saw that cover. Made me feel kinda funny.

I think I was pretty normalized to it by then. I'd been around metal and rock a lot just by virtue of having friends with older brothers and some of my parents' friends. I had Ozzy Osbourne Bark at the Moon on 12 inch already and I don't know if there's a weirder album cover than that. Things were getting a lot more gentrified by the time I purchased Quiet Riot.

When's the last time you listened to Quiet Riot?

<laugh> That's a good question. I'm pretty sure I pulled out “Cum on Feel the Noise” or “Metal Health” sometime in the last year and a half.

Come on, it was definitely only “Cum On Feel The Noise.”

Ahh, I was pretty into “Bang Your Head.”

2. What's your favourite household chore?

I would say I enjoy doing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen. I really enjoy seeing how nice it looks when everything's cleaned up. Have my girlfriend come home and see it and have her evening be that much better.

3. When's the last time you did something for the first time?

The video for “Push Too Hard” that we did with Mike Morash was the first time I've ever done a single-shot video. That was a pretty different experience – thinking about how to sort that out in one continuous take. To make it more interesting too, I suggested that we do it backwards so that instead of throwing off clothes it was like I was putting it all back on. I was listening to the track double-time so that it would be half-time when he slowed down the video. So the whole thing was a really weird mind-bender.

4. If you could spend the day with anyone living or dead, who would it be and what would you do?

It would probably be a toss up for me, somewhere in between hanging out with Carl Sagan, doing his thing for a day and this famous old Peruvian cumbia called Los Mirlos, right from the heart of the Amazon. I dig their style and their music so much. I've really been considering finding a way to Peru just to go see these guys play. They've been a band for like 50 years and they just rule. I'd really love to check 'em out.

5. I bet Carl Sagan would be into checking out some dope-ass cumbia with you. What's your best memory of a teacher growing up?

I had a fantastic chemistry teacher named Mr. Disney. He was just super engaged and really committed to getting the ideas across to the kids. He was hilarious. When he had a really important thing to drill into your head he'd pull out a ruler stick and smack it on the desk full volume and yell the concept or word over and over again. It would just get burned into your brain. I remember him screaming the word “entropy” and smashing the table with the ruler.

6. The guest question comes from the homie JPOD...What's the most selfless thing you've done to help further someone else's goals?

Donating my time and thoughts and energy to other peoples' projects without any expectation of payment or anything of that sort. Just wanting to pick somebody up and help pull them up to the next level.

Delighting the good people of Atmosphere Gatherhing.

Delighting the good people of Atmosphere Gatherhing.