“I was five years old and I had already started dreaming about coming to
America someday,” recalls Rob Decoup. “I went to an American school in
Vienna, where I learned to speak English and fell in love with rock n’
roll and its power and potential to change the world.” Musicians for decades - since Pete Seger begat Bob Dylan – have used verse and chord as pistol and sword. If you can play guitar and believe you have something important to say, then for heaven’s sake, write songs! That’s exactly what this Beatles/Doors/Pink Floyd/Alice Cooper/Megadeth-bred ballsy balladeer has been doing for the past several years, honing both chops and message for the release of his long play debut, Rays of Sun.
But first came 2013’s Pain, an eclectic and impressive four-song EP featuring, ”Burn Me to the Ground,” “Say Hello to Misery,” “Stranded in Marseilles,” as well as the unique title track, a blistering cover of his hero Alice Cooper’s iconic 1980 blood ballad. The trilogy was produced by Viennese knob twirler, Rens Newland and re-mixed by Stuart Epps and celebrated studio wizard, Mike Plotnikoff (Buckcherry, Drowning Pool, Skillet, We As Human, Rascal Flatts, Halestorm). Drummer Arejay Hale from the Grammy winning, Halestorm, made a guest appearance to bash the skins.
“My mother bought me my first guitar when I was 12,” he smiles. “It was electric but she didn’t know it needed an amp. So for awhile, I just played quiet chords and notes but in my heart, I could feel the volume.”
Early in the journey, an artist’s environment deeply informs the nature of creative expression. Rob was watching the news and battling the blues, developing a mistrust of and anger for established political and corporate institutions. He got into soul-bending poets like Blake, Goethe and Jim Morrison’s muse, Rimbaud. Diving head first into Shakespeare, Rob took hedonistic hints from debauched rock and socially charged heavy metal. A big thinker who’d eventually receive his PhD in Political Science from the University of Vienna, Rob cherishes his artistic inspirations.
“Discovering Alice Cooper’s classic albums Killer, Billion Dollar Babies, School’s Out and Muscle of Love rearranged my molecules,” he confesses. “Alice was a theatrical revolutionary. I was in high school when I first heard Megadeth. I was too young to really understand the conspiracy theory theme of ‘Hanger 18’ but Dave Mustaine’s energy really effected me.”
Rob takes careful aim at the man with the provocative, “Don’t Take My Gun” where he proclaims without reservation, “I’m not a part of their agenda/I’m not a part of their belief.” It’s old school affirmation of self and the basic human desire to simply live a free and happy life. But it’s the track, “Burn me to the Ground,” where Rob is lyrically cocked, loaded and threatening.
Crawl five miles on a working day, the water disappeared
Found my fate in a modern basement, spit the fruit of rage
What you gonna do about me? Can’t get away, I might come your way.
“I wrote that song in 2003 in the aftermath of 9/11 and the Afghanistan/Iraq wars,” Rob says. “The zeitgeist of Islamic terror and the beginning of the end of our civil liberties were among the influencing factors.” The video for the Plotnikoff re-mix of “Burn me to the Ground” hits the fast-growing site, crypticrock.com on July 17th. The fire in Rob’s heart and pipes rises with the explosive, “Run Away.”
We cant lose cuz we got the numbers, they cant win cuz they need us alive
For the ﬁelds and crops to thrive, are they ready for a spit in the eye
No no we are not insane, we are only getting sick of the game they kicked us down till our minds went sore and then they left us out on the open shore
Now back to that rocky road, check out the story behind the video, “War Hero.” Worldly Rob insists what transpired was pure historic coincidence and not by design. “I have a friend in Kiev who introduced me to a Ukrainian director named Genady Razbegaev” he says. “I was in Berlin preparing to return to New York. ‘Do it in Kiev,’ they said. ‘It’s much cheaper than the U.S.’ Vienna has a big Ukrainian community. I spent a month there in 2001. So we shot the footage and the Genady drove six hours to Crimea where he could start editing the video. While he’s working on my anti-war song just after the Olympics last February, the Russian army invades his hometown and all hell breaks loose. None of my Ukrainian friends support the annexation. It was very distressing, hard to focus, but we got it done.” The “War Hero” single and video will be released worldwide in August.
Global events impact the psyche of any conscious singer songwriter. The musical psalms get written and recorded, taken on the road and shared with the fans. Rob has a band of local session players he gathers for gigs around Gotham and even for the occasional festival opportunity like the day they supported Iron Maiden at Topfest 2013 in Slovakia and hammered out an impressive 45 minute set to the delight of 30,000 central European metalheads. Last year, Rob also performed strong sets at the venerable CMJ music conference in New York, in the Calvin Klein music lounge at Lollapalooza and just this past spring 2014, he impressed the tastemakers and jawbreakers at Austin’s SXSW. In Oct 2014 Rob successfully completed his first US tour along with Saving Abel and Another Lost Year.
Rob and his domestic team have plans to tour Rays of Sun from sea to shining sea and beyond. For the album, he and producer Plotnikoff assembled a sturdy cast of players to realize the rhythm and urgency of his songs. “Eric Friedman from Creed is on guitar, Marty O’Brien from Lita Ford’s band plays bass, Phil X who replaced Richie Sambora as touring guitarist for Bon Jovi lays down some nice leads; Dan Welby did the basic drum tracks.”
Wherever he goes, Rob Decoup will be laying his licks and heart on the line. He speaks his mind because he cares about the tenuous state of humanity. “I’m sorry but James Hetfield killing grizzly bears just isn’t right,” he rifles. “Yes, people should be permitted to guns but you can be non-conformist, passionate and not give into the system without discharging a firearm. Aerosmith said ‘let the music do the talking.’ I truly love America, its remarkable mosaic of peoples and ethnicities.”
Poet, revolutionary, rocker, human.
Welcome to the brave new jungle of Rob Decoup. Fasten your seat belt and have a fist pumping, thought-provoking trip.
-- Lonn M. Friend