With their perfectly blended cocktail of hard rock swagger and art-damaged pop, Sinomatic is ready, willing, and able to shake up the current state of modern music. The Youngstown, Ohio-based group?s self-titled Rust/Atlantic debut album sees the band kicking out their own special brand of nu-millenial rock n? roll ? power grooves and richly textured twin guitar attack, over-the-top orchestrations and from-the-heart songwriting, all marked by singer Ken Cooper?s evocative vocal delivery. Tracks such as the passionate first single, "Bloom," or the plaintive "What Love Is" evince a band focused on the future while never turning away from the eternal power of classic rock music. "I think our music speaks for itself," Cooper says. "The songs are good, and the sound is something fresh, while at the same time, it?s got something of a timeless feel to it."
Ken Cooper and Rick Deak first met back in the late 80s at Chainsaw Records, a small indie record shop in North Lima, Ohio. The two teens quickly bonded over a mutual love of such rock heroes as Guns N? Roses and Metallica, and soon were playing together in a combo known as Strange Vision. By the early 90s, Cooper and Deak had formed Raggedy Ann, a hard rocking group that toured the East Coast and developed a significant local following, but, as Ken recalls, "Everyone was partying pretty heavy ? myself especially ? and the band split up. Rick and I parted ways, not in any negative sense, but more of a ?We need time away from each other? kind of thing." Flash-forward to 1998, when Cooper began self-recording a number of his songs with an eye towards forming a new band. He brought the material to his old friend Rick, who listened to the tracks and instantly agreed to regenerate their working relationship.
"I was pretty much an ex-guitar player," says Deak, "other than playing my acoustic in the living room and doing stuff with my four-track. Then Ken came in with this material he was working on, and I just went, ?Wow. This stuff is great!? He said, ?Why don?t you come down and throw in some guitars and backing vocals?? So I came in with my wah pedal and my tremelo and it was like we?d never stopped making music together." "Time healed all those open wounds," Cooper says, "and when I came back with this, which became Sinomatic, he was the one person that I knew I needed on board to make it happen. It was like we picked up right where we left off, like there was no break. The mindset was still there, as was the attitude and where we wanted to go with it. It just clicked like it always did, and it?s still clicking to this day."
The guitarist started adding his idiosyncratic parts, and soon Cooper and Deak found themselves recruiting players to fill out the as-yet-unnamed band. They first enlisted Bryan Patrick, who they regarded as certainly Youngstown?s hottest guitarist, and Patrick in turn brought in bassist Dave Markasky and drummer Mark Lawrence. Sinomatic was born?sort of. The nascent band dubbed themselves Vertigogo and self-released their collected recordings in spring 1999. The eponymous album (featuring four songs ? including "Tell A Lie" and "Leave Me Tomorrow" ? which appear in all-new form on "SINOMATIC") scored significant regional radio play on both college and commercial stations. The majors soon came calling and the band inked with Atlantic. Unfortunately, legal complications forced the group to give up their moniker, and they redubbed themselves as Sinomatic.
Their new identity set, Sinomatic trekked out west to Los Angeles in spring 2000 to record their Atlantic debut with producer Eric Valentine (Third Eye Blind, Smash Mouth) at the legendary Sound City Studios. "It was amazing," Deak says of the experience. "It was great to get out of Ohio, out of the cold weather. Then to get into that studio with all its history ? Nirvana recorded ?NEVERMIND? there, Fleetwood Mac did ?RUMOURS,? and people like Tom Petty and Rage Against The Machine ? just walking around there and thinking about all that great music was incredible." With the studio?s musical history proving a constant inspiration, Valentine set up a full-on recording regimen, sometimes pushing the young band through seemingly endless fourteen-hour work days. "We wanted to spend a lot of time recording the guitars," Deak explains, "really experimenting, because we knew that was one of our strong suits. Playing with sounds, getting really crazy tweaky things going on which would send the music to a different level." "To be brutally honest," Cooper says, "at times it was a nightmare. It was way more than I bargained for. Eric came to Ohio to do pre-production and we worked our asses off, but we thought because we only had two weeks to do it, he was really busting ass. We get out to California and it?s the same fuckin? schedule. Here we are in L.A., thinking we?re going to be going to parties and hanging with the most beautiful women in the world, but that?s not the case. We?re in the studio from 12 till 12, if not 2. You?d wake up, eat, and head back to the studio. I mean, we did find time to see the city, and hit Crazy Girls and all the spots we?d always heard about, but for the most part, we just worked our asses off and I wouldn?t trade it for the world because I think we made a fantastic album."
"SINOMATIC" amply displays the band?s efforts, with an expansively layered hard rock sound that never undermines the simply irresistible melodies and hooks of such songs as the lush "One Life" or the achingly sensitive "Girlfriend." For Sinomatic, classic songwriting is a top priority, and Cooper (who pens the majority of the band?s material, often with guitarist Patrick) is a true believer in the traditional craftsmanship of composition. "Every single Sinomatic song started on an acoustic guitar," he explains, "even the ones with the big electric riffs ? just me in my living room or my basement, writing when the inspiration struck. Sometimes there?s nothing better than a stripped-down approach. There?s nothing better than just chords and words and real emotions coming out. Nowadays bands have so many options and so many ways to hide ? there are so many programmable instruments now, you don?t have to really play. A good songwriter knows that if you can pick up an acoustic guitar and play a song, it?s going to have much more of a timeless feel than if you program something on a computer."
In addition to their memorable sonic approach, Sinomatic songs are also fraught with Cooper?s reflections on life, love, and all the ups and downs of modern living. Highly personal, yet undeniably universal in their appeal, songs such as the turbulent "My Time" and the poignant "Leave Me Tomorrow" reflect the songwriter?s history of battling addiction. "My past hardships with drugs are major factors in the songwriting," Cooper says, "because there are times where I look back and realize what I?ve missed or what I?ve lost. Take ?Bloom.? Most people are going to hear it as a song about love, but in reality it?s a song about drugs, about cocaine. It was a part of my life for a number of years, it was a bad part of my life for five or six years, but I?ve come to terms with it and I?m able to deal with it now. I understand why I was in that situation, and I?m totally open and honest about it. It really was a point of inspiration, because that kind of problem can really dictate your life."
Having built a reputation around the Cleveland/Pittsburgh region as a brashly confident live act, Sinomatic have headlined innumerable club dates, in addition to support slots with modern superstars such as Creed, Fuel, and Three Doors Down, as well as classic rock icons like Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, and Todd Rundgren. As a result of their polished and powerful stage presentation, the band?s mailing list has grown from 500 names to more than 20,000 over the last year. "That?s a good amount of people to have on your side when you come out of the gate," Cooper notes. "SINOMATIC" represents a band who are happy to fly in the face of fashion, rejecting the Everyman stance which permeates post-post-grunge American guitar music. More so, Sinomatic are poised to shred expectations at the same time as they rekindle the fiery heart and bad boy attitude that inspired them to pick up their instruments in the first place.
"We want to be part of a new movement in rock n? roll," Cooper avows. "We want to retake the throne of a music that feels like it?s been cast to the side. We just want to remind people of the days when we were 12, 13, 14 years old, watching MTV, looking up to the guys playing the guitar and wanting to be like that. I want kids nowadays to look at Sinomatic and think, ?I want to be like them.? It?s been a long time since that kind of rock band came around, where the guys wanted to be them and the girls wanted to be with them. We?re hoping that we create that aura again. Most of today?s rock bands are like the guys next door, they can be walking down the street next to you and you might not even recognize them. I don?t want that to be the case with Sinomatic. When one of us goes walking down the street, I want people to know who we are."