Artist Spotlight: Not the Cops

Garage punk band Not the Cops played with indie rockers Bandoleer Bacall and alternative pop band Loud Library at Company Brewing Saturday night. Friends and supporters showed out for a night of vibrant, colorful music despite the cold.

Not the Cops are vocalist/guitarist James Wallace, bassist/vocalist Nelson Schneider, and drummer Tanner Shepherd. The band formed in 2017 and recently dropped their debut self-titled record in October. They describe their sound as “music to fight your landlord to,” complete with Shepherd’s “existential dread face” as he shreds away behind the kit.

“Tanner literally put up a Facebook post of “bass players, where you at?” and I’d been playing bass for about a year but played guitar for a long time,” Schneider said. “I thought he seemed like a cool dude, and then I met James, and it all clicked.”

“We actually first met at a Duckling house show,” Shepherd added. “We played with them at High Dive back on Black Friday 2017. Both of our High Dive shows have been Black Friday shows.”

Schneider explains the band’s name.

“In the Internet age, it’s really hard to come up with an original band name, because every band that’s been around for a couple weeks could call themselves whatever and then start a Bandcamp or Facebook page. We wanted something that no one had taken yet…it was a good two weeks of us on a text thread of “how ’bout this name? no that’s taken” and back in the day we were practicing in James’ mom’s house in Mukwonago. We picked up James and were on our way there, and we saw one of those blatantly obvious undercover cop cars that looks generic but has the big antenna…and Tanner was like “that dude is definitely not the cops” and for whatever reason that just hit my head, and I looked it up and it wasn’t taken.”

They describe the recording process of their new album.

“We recorded that a lot of times,” Shepherd said. “We did it at my house originally, doing it all ourselves, which was a huge learning curve. I had no fucking idea what I was doing – I watched some YouTube videos and was like “I got this!”…I didn’t have it (laughs). We scrapped the first recording, scrapped the second recording, and then seven-eight months later we finally had it.”

“In terms of songwriting, it really just starts as a jam,” Schneider explained. “Every practice we open up with an extended jam session of whatever we’re feeling, and then one of us will say “I like that! Do that again!” and then usually James just stream-of-conscious will yell something.”

“Some of the best lines we’ve ended up sticking with were stuff where I thought I heard (James) say something totally different and I’ll tell him what I thought he said, but he’ll be like “no, not at all, but that’s cool, let’s go with that,” and we roll from there,” Shepherd said.”

“Right before the final vocal takes, we just hung out at my house and got some fast food and went through every song with what we liked and didn’t like,” Schneider concluded.

“We have a new practice space and are based in Milwaukee more permanently now,” Wallace said about what is next for the band. “We’re gonna try to do another self-recorded thing and we’re still just getting our feet wet. It could take five years, it could take ten years….I don’t care, I’m just here to play music and have a good time.”

Not the Cops are looking to record new material in February. They have a split with Warden coming out as well. They play The Wisco in Madison on Friday.

Share this post:

Leave a Reply