Cooler by the Lake
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Cooler by the Lake

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE

Chicago, Illinois, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Punk




"Cooler by the Lake Internet Single"

As a person who has had the pleasure of attending one of his thoroughly rockin’ Karaoke Dreams sessions can tell you, Rory Lake ain’t no one-trick pony. Yes, the dentally-challenged mullet-head with the trademark fanny pack hosts the most kick-ass karaoke party in the city, giving everyone a chance to “dream” and kicking out a few choice numbers himself, but he also fronts one of the most balls-out bands around: Cooler By The Lake. A ‘70s/’80s retro act of sorts with Spinal Tap appeal, the 8-member crew is certainly out for a good time. But they’re also dead serious about their “baited hooks, sweet riffs and freaky grooves.” Their latest release, the digital single “F**** Me With A Stick,” even has a positive message for the kids. Gratuitous censorship aside, Rory’s encouraging the masses to stop the violence, put down the guns and simply fight him with a stick. (Appearing with Sweet Cobra at Empty Bottle on February 4) –text: Mike Scales -

"Cooler by the Lake Internet Single"

Cooler By the Lake, if you haven’t heard, is an over-the-top, rock n’ prog mess, like a poor man’s Electric Six, but instead of disco and pills you get riffs and sweatpants. -

"Rory Lake reviewed on YELP.COM" -

"COOLER BY THE LAKE CD/DVD review by Patrick Muldowney"

Cooler By The Lake is a time trap band. Reveling in moments opening for the likes of Asia and Molly Hatchet, the puzzling element of both the CD and DVD revolves around the actual seriousness of the enterprise. This, in itself, shows the change in perception over twenty years; mullets, make-up and on-stage theatrics seriously rocked before we decided to get depressingly serious about Rock and Metal. Cooler By The Lake is undoubtedly entertaining, and certainly not as tongue-in-cheek as Illinois counterparts Reggie & The Full Effect.
The DVD is awesome. Whether playing on the street or cramped into the very front of a stage because Asia's equipment can't be moved, Cooler By The Lake knows how to engage audiences through its beat-up muscle car style, classic rock dynamics, and singer, Rory Lake, who has no fear of embarrassment, even when the staged antics lack smooth implementation.

Musically, Cooler By The Lake can be a bit much for those not enthralled by cheeze, but, for not fitting a current sound, there are still songs that stand out in quality and rawk appeal. "So Many Times", which is structurally similar to "Paradise by the Dashboard Light", has the excellent inclusion of a coach's whistle. Billy Squier would not be ashamed of Rory Lake's cover of "My Kinda Lover" either. It's pretty true, without being identical, to the original, although it has a little vocal gibberish a la Anthony Kiedis at the end.

Cooler By The Lake has a definite chance of achieving cult status. I can't be certain it's over the top; I can be certain I'd like to see them live. I also can be certain that consumers who seek creations outside the margin will clamor to spread the word once Cooler By The Lake appears in a few radio station free bins. If you know someone with an odd sense of art and humor, skip the possibility of fate, and make this a Christmas present that will have the inner circle wondering how they so luckily left the beaten path.

Tracks added to iPod: Tokyo, Back on Track, So Many Times, My Kinda Lover - Anti Music

"Interview with RORY LAKE of COOLER BY THE LAKE"

Armed with glasses, an unmistakable mullet and questionable dental hygiene, Chicago-native Rory Lake is not your typical rock 'n' roller. Nonetheless, he's got his hands in several different baskets, not only fronting old-school-rock-band Cooler By the Lake (whom have toured with such acts as Asia and Molly Hatchet), but also hosting both Rory Lake's Karaoke Dreams and Rory Lake Presents: Battle of the Bands in the Windy City. SKRATCH got a chance to catch up with Rory on the phone to chat about his band, shrimp cocktails, paint buckets and melon-squeezing.
SKRATCH: For someone completely unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe the sound of Cooler By the Lake?
RORY LAKE: You know what, this is all music that we obviously are influenced by, and being a little bit older than your average music-buying crowd out there, I like to compare it to, say, the classic '70s kind of rock 'n' roll sound, even '80s style rock, meets a little bit of...I don't know, we have real trippy parts sometimes. I don't necessarily like to say, "psychedelic," but we kind of have some wild parts in our songs. Sometimes it even sounds like punk rock stuff. Just kind of wild.
SKRATCH: Right on. Are there any bands from the '70s or '80s that you look at as a model for what you guys are trying to do?
RORY: Well, I wouldn't be able to name any. I've got my favorites, of course. These are the type of questions that, when somebody asks you, you can't really answer them. They put you on the spot. [Laughs] I've just never compared our band to another band before. I just always say a sound if I was trying to explain it to somebody. Our band is the kind of band that you really have to see to sort of get. That's kind of why I put together [the DVD that came with Cooler By the Lake's debut CD]. I don't know if anybody's going to get what we're doing. [Laughs] [The CD and DVD] had to be released together, you know?
SKRATCH: If the band were called something different, what do you think it would be called?
RORY: Probably like Shrimp Cocktail or something like that. [Laughs] We've got a lot of spice, you know? That's probably a dumb answer. I don't know if there are any other Shrimp Cocktails out there. If there are, send my apologies to them. I didn't mean to steal your name.
SKRATCH: What would you say are some of the elements that make up Cooler By the Lake?
RORY: Well, this isn't represented on the CD or the DVD at all, but we just added a flute/saxophone player. Oh, man, this guy is intense! "Jingles." Johnny "Jingles" McCann. He heard about our band through another friend. I'm just getting to the "elements" part, but he's adding all of this crazy like (imitates flute sounds), all these wild flourishes and everything. He does it so tastefully in the world of our rock, in our sort of realm. It adds another dimension. We're in like, how many people are in the band? Seven dimensions? We've got an eighth dimension right now.
On the record, I play some keyboards with Rogina [Bogatitis, CBTL'S keyboardist], and we also have the two-guitar assault. You can't go wrong with that. These are really integral parts to our music. We've actually had to do a show without [Brad] "The Wiz" [Wyzowski], one of our lead guitar players, recently at this American Legion Summerfest that we do here every year in Chicagoland, and so Jingles, he had to learn all the guitar parts and harmonies and stuff, so that he and Chad Lee Pepper, the other guitar player [could work together.] He was playing all these guitar harmonies, it was badass, man. It was incredible the way this guy just kind of picked it up and melded all these licks together with the other guy.
SKRATCH: What are some of your guys' plans for the rest of the year?
RORY: Well, we're trying to get more shows. It's really hard to get, you know, an eight-person band together. You know how that might be. We're hoping to do a few more shows outside of the Chicagoland area, more regional area, other states nearby; Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana. But, I really want to try to get this release out there, because believe me, this thing has taken years of my life from me. [Laughs] Just to have something like tangible in your hands that you can rip open, and it actually feels pretty good because it's kind of thick. Of course, being a purist or a music enthusiast, I do like the LP records. I like to have something in my hand.
That's what's cool about this release, is that it opens up, and there's stuff to look at, and there's two discs in there for you. You have to use the digital format. I'm hoping to get this release out to as many folks as possible, try to open up their eyes or ears toward our way, you know? At least just to check it out. There's so many choices, it's like you're in the rock 'n' roll supermarket, you know? It's always there for anybody, and it's hard to get somebody to squeeze your melons, you know what I'm saying? I love to have my melons squeezed. [Laughs]
SKRATCH: Is there a chance that CBTL might become more metal-oriented in the future?
RORY: That's a good question. We dip our hands in all sorts of buckets. Any kind of paint bucket. Whether it be like acid jazz or like rockabilly...I don't think we'll ever play rockabilly. Take that out of there. [Laughs] We may not get to that paint bucket. We just have to have a good time playing with it. We have to hit the right buttons to push the song to come out.
SKRATCH: Awesome, is there anything else you want to add to wrap it up?
RORY: I just want to say, "Thank you" to SKRATCH MAGAZINE for seeing the CBTL band as something that's a valuable source of...what am I trying to say here? [Laughs] For seeing that there's actually something to our band, that we have some substance. We're not just like cranking it out for the sake of it. You'd never heard about our band, you never saw us, nobody there knows about it, but it made you want to seek us out. I like that. So, I want to thank all of you guys there at SKRATCH MAGAZINE for doing a little digging, so to speak.
Information about Rory's many endeavors, including Cooler By the Lake, Karaoke Dreams, and the Battle of the Bands, can be found at You can also catch Cooler By the Lake live on Saturday, November 10, in Milwaukee, Wis. For more info, check out Cooler By the Lake's MySpace page at
To comment on this or any other piece you see in SKRATCH, feel free to e-mail us at - Skratch Magazine (LA/Orange County)

"Jack Rabid's COOLER BY THE LAKE CD/DVD review"

It's hard to tell from this CD if this band are great admirers of '70s AOR MOR hard rock ("Meat Loaf sucking on a doorknob?" {he's referring to a quote from Illinois Entertainer}), or if the Central Illinois sextet love that stuff but see humor in it, SPINAL TAP style. But skip to the 95-minute "Rock You Mentary" DVD (Included because they don't think you can get them otherwise) and there are many absurdist moments, including the engaging RORY LAKE, the unlikely likeable "classic rock" star howling at the afternoon moon, bareass (!) to get in touch with his native spirit, to explaining the reasons why they can't do tonight's gig without the drummer, to playing in Druid robes, Stonehenge style, and tons of Midwestern bar-circuit live footage. A spectacle. - Big Takeover


Arluck Time Live Concert DVD 2012 Randoman Records
"F**** Me With A Stick" Internet Single 2011 Rory Lake Presents
Arluck Time Compilation CD 2010 Randoman Records
"Welcome To The Battle" b/w "A Battle Of My Own" 7-inch record 2008 Rory Lake Presents
Props BMX Video Magazine DVD 2008
COOLER BY THE LAKE self-titled CD/DVD (The full length debut and a feature length rock-YOU-mentary) 2007 Rory Lake Presents



Combine tight musicianship with a loose cannon and you get Cooler by the Lake. With a two-guitar attack, rhythm section, keys, flute and sax, a dedicated back up singer and raucous frontman Rory Lake at the helm, Cooler by the Lake has been decimating rock clubs all over the Midwest for the last 13 years. It’s more than music; it’s an intense rock experience. That’s why their shaken cocktail of classic rock, psych, prog and punk appeals to all fans of rock, especially when served by wildly charismatic Rory Lake. Due to their unique versatility and amplified entertainment factor, Cooler by the Lake has squeezed on stages with new wave and rock legends Adam Ant, Molly Hatchet, The Fixx and Asia as well as punk and indie acts Sean & Zander, Sweet Cobra, Nashville Pussy, Drag the River, Cherry Valence, Danko Jones, Peelander Z, Electric Frankenstein and Apocalypse Hoboken. Cooler by the Lake has also performed during a live simulcast of a bacon eating contest on ABC’s, The Jimmy Kimmel Show.

More on Rory Lake: Known around the country for his wild, anything-goes Karaoke Dreams show, Rory Lake has held the #1 Chicago Nightlife spot on for years. He's been featured on the front page of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE for his karaoke shows at the American Legion FDR Post 923 – the last remaining American Legion hall in the city of Chicago. Rory was invited by the band, Black Dahlia Murder to bring his Karaoke Dreams to the Rockstar Mayhem tour as the after-party empresario. In 2008, Rory Lake received a CAAP (Chicago Artists Assistance Program) Grant from Mayor Daley's Department of Cultural Affairs to aid in producing Rory Lake's Battle of the Bands – a tongue-in-cheek 'battle' with local and national touring bands and minor celebrity judges. Rory's shows have been given proper notice by all Chicago entertainment guides, including THE CHICAGO READER, TIMEOUT CHICAGO and THE ILLINOIS ENTERTAINER. Rory admits outright he only began doing his solo shows, now 10 years in the running, to promote his first love – COOLER BY THE LAKE.

Cooler by the Lake is currently working on their 2nd studio album. Basic tracks have been recorded at a river house on the Fox River by Johnny "Z" Zwierzko, legendary front of house sound man for Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick and Van Halen. "Z" is a hard-working union sound man and can be found running monitors for Styx at Ribfest or manning the parabolic microphone during Bears games at Soldier Field. Also producing, recording and mixing is John Hiler. The band did vocals and overdubs with John at Jay Bennet of Wilco's studio, Pieholden Suite Sound. John has recorded many Chicago greats such as Smashing Pumpkins, The Frogs and Liz Phair. He's also recorded Slayer and Danzig. John saw great interest in the 'Cooler' project and compares the band to another he's recorded – Hedwig and the Angry Inch (combined with Frank Zappa). The band invited a special guest keyboardist to appear on the album. Bruce Murphy, formerly of Men Without Hats, lends his geek love of the Hammond B3, Wurlitzer and other synths to several tracks. The executive producer of the album is Rory Lake. The tentatively titled album, WARM LEATHER VEST, is scheduled to be released in late summer of 2013.