CHUK COOLEY AND THE DEMON HAMMERS
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CHUK COOLEY AND THE DEMON HAMMERS

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Although his father was a Baptist preacher, Chuk Cooley said he probably spent more time in prison than in church. But his father's blending of the spiritual life and the desire to become a well-known musician was passed down to Chuk, and it took him decades to realize it and make it his own.
"I took on his dream," Cooley said. "He wanted to be a musician and a star. Then the kids came," he chuckled. But the adage that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree holds true for the Cooley family. Presently, every time Cooley finds himself onstage with his musical group, Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers, he is a performer and preacher, an exorcist of demons and exploder of eardrums.
The band uses its blend of heavy acoustic rock and southern twang as a vehicle for Cooley's life story and message. The band hopes to spread the message in its Second Annual Demon Hammer Halloween Bash, Saturday, Oct. 31.
As with many of his performances, Cooley often preaches onstage by speaking from personal experience. "A lot of music today has no message, and if it does it's hidden under gloss and it's hard to find," Cooley said.
Born in Wyoming and raised in Odessa Texas, Cooley's message was learned and earned the hard way. After surviving a life of drug addiction, several years in jail, and overdoses, Cooley has risen from the dilapidation of his former life to promote positivity and living in the here and now.
"Somehow his positive message rubbed off on me. The best part of him," Cooley said of his father. But do not confuse the optimism and emotional exoneration of the group's live set with the possibility of The Demon Hammers being a Christian band. With songs like "Drinkin', Religion, and Death" and "The Lost", the latter an auto-biographical tale of Cooley's descent into drug addiction, the band does not gloss over the dark side of life but examines it closely in hopes of sharing its weight with the listener and overcoming it.
"I kinda preach on a sinner level--not a Christian level," Cooley said. "[Our shows are] like going to church, but there's beer here."
Although surrounded by music as a child, Cooley did not learn to play guitar until he was imprisoned in Texas. All of his hardships and the mistakes of his youth became source material for, what Cooley calls, his "heart and soul anthems from the streets of hell." But he did not immediately begin performing his own compositions.
After being released from jail and returning to Tulsa, he performed in a handful of metal bands for well over a decade including, Hellablack and Berserkr, which included future Demon Hammer lead guitarist Tony Loretti. It was not until he turned down the amps, picked up an acoustic guitar and began performing his own songs that the proper chord was struck and his vision as an artist fell into place. The reaction from close friends was that he was on the path he should have been pursuing all along.
As Cooley hesitated about undertaking his personal musical ambitions, the assembly of The Demon Hammers backing band wasn't coming together quickly, either.
Cooley performed solo for some time before meeting bassist Sondra Davis, who also contributes flute to performances.
Later, he enlisted the help of long-time friend and ex-bandmate Loretti on lead guitar. After going through trial and error with several drummers, the trio added the final addition of another long-time friend Jester behind the drum kit.
The backing band's moniker came to Cooley simply enough. "Whatever you are fighting in your life, the demons that haunt you, you either punk out or become a demon hammer," he said.
Hardcore fans of the band have taken to calling themselves Die-Hards and Demonettes, making their own shirts, and traveling across state lines to see the band perform its anthemic heavy southern acoustic rock. Lucky for the devoted and uninitiated alike, the band often has a busy calendar performing more than 400 shows in Oklahoma and its bordering states since the band's formation. And there's plenty more to come.
"I'm not here to play for the same 10 people," Cooley said. "I'm here to play for the world."
After two years it seems that the world, regionally speaking, is listening and Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers are finally accumulating the recognition they deserve in Oklahoma and surrounding states.
Most recently, Cooley was nominated for the ABoT Best Male Vocalist, and the band successfully secured the 2009 ABoT Best Hard Rock Band award beating out the likes of national artists like Crooked X and Violence to Vegas. After hearing about the nomination, the band was at a loss according to Cooley.
"We were nominated with some bad ass bands." Asked how an all-acoustic band could secure the award for Best Hard Rock band, he simply remarked, "Because we were all metal heads, they considered us acoustic-metal."
The band has also branched out to video production, winning an award for Best Music Video at the Bare Bones Film Festival in Muskogee this year for the song "Black Jarr." The video experience has spurred Cooley to further explore the medium. He has since been invited to contribute to a local film project entitled Why I Love Tulsa, a feature film comprised of several short films by over two-dozen directors.
Halloween weekend finds Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers throwing its Second Annual Demon Hammer Halloween Bash at the Backyard Bar (1229 S. Memorial Dr.) on Saturday, Oct. 31. The performance will be a sort of homecoming for the band.
Earlier on, the band deemed the venue its home base in Tulsa but has not played there in more than six months. The evening includes a costume contest with a $100 prize, performances by Deep South Union and Whiskeydick, and the debut of Chuck Cooley and the Demon Hammers newest music video "Stomping Grounds." The song, Cooley said, is homage to Tulsa, a city that helped shape him and a place he cannot seem to get too far from.
"We dedicate this video to Tulsa. That's my town, that's my people," Cooley said. "Tulsa is where I wanna be." - URBAN TULSA MAGAZINE BY C.M. RODRIGUEZ


Ask anyone in the Tulsa area if they've heard of Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers and you receive replies like: "Fists Razed High!", "Hell Yeah!", and "Saw them Thursday, Friday or any given Saturday night at...and the show ROCKED!". This band in it's own right have become the GODS of the Tulsa rock and roll genre for the ages.
To meet them is to know that they are local, homegrown family oriented individuals who love and respect their fan base for the love and support that they receive. They were the first band that I had the opportunity to see and meet when I first came here from Kansas by way of New York and they blew me away. Hard rock, Southern Vibe, Down Home, Life Lessons and Love of EVERYTHING that is real and good in life is what this band puts out in their music, their lyrics and their hearts.
Friday night they played here in Tulsa at Blues City and the turnout was expectedly...phenominal. The place was packed and ready for a dosage of some in your face, kick ass rock and roll. With songs like "Stomping Grounds" and "Could Have Been Anything", should anyone expect anything more then an amazing show?
This band has been quite busy for the past year or so as well...In 2008, they won "Best Music Video" for their song "The Lost" by award winning movie director Titus Jackson. In July of this year they did a live interview on Z104.5 The Edge and have been getting tons of airplay requests on Homegrown as well. This band is the epitome of local rock stars on a homegrown landscape.
Chuk himself is a very humbled and respected musician who smiles in the face of adversity. Recently recovering from a MAJOR surgery that could have been life threatening (a Tumor), he has jumped right back into his music and made sure that everyone in attendance knew that he loved the support and wishes sent to him as well as he had taken his experience and used it as strength instead of using it for weakness. I can see much great new material coming from this man musically and lyrically in the next few months in reference to his ordeal. Through interviews and pictures and just talking to Chuk personally as well as through people who know him, you will find that Chuk Cooley and his Demon Hammers are a band to be keeping a keen eye on over the next few months.
There's Sondra, his beautiful, sensual bass player who also plays the flute like a Goddess entrancing all within earshot to do her bidding. She is amazing to just sit back and watch.

Tony, the accoustic lead guitarist who loses himself in song and plays to HIS hearts content.

Jester, the banger of drums...sweet, sexy, and always smiling as if he knows something you don't. Which he probably does.

Then Chuk himself, lyricist, vocalist, writer, father, friend. A great man to know and love.
- EJ EXAMINER BY ELIZABETH JOHNSON



Back in mid April, Gary got a message from Laura, the gal that handles merch for “Hate Incorporated”. She said some good friends were coming up from Oklahoma to play in our area and he should go see them. Well, Gary went. Here’s what he says about that night…
“I went into the show not knowing the band. I was figuring I’d be hearing heavy metal. The band in front that night was heavy metal. Then “Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers” come out, and play this great acoustic set. There’s not many shows that I go to, that a band comes out and makes that big of an impression on me. It was a “holy shit, they’re GOOD” experience. They were so good, I called Leslie from the show and said “We’ve GOT to interview these guys!”
Our interview with Chuk didn’t disappoint. He shared just as much of his heart here with us, as he does in all of his music. Cooley’s music roots are deep, his primary influence being his father, Dallas Cooley. But interestingly, Chuk’s life somewhat parallels that of another relative…Spade Cooley. Spade was a well known Big Band leader (western swing), movie actor, and television personality back in the 1940’s -50’s. Music, performance, and film aren’t the only parallels between Chuk and Spade Cooley. Both boys spent 8 years in prison. That’s where the similarities end however. Chuk’s turned his life around and inspires with his music. He drew strength and courage when there was none to be found and altered the path his life was following. Spade Cooley’s life story is compelling and tragic. (We’ve given ya’ll a link if you want to find out more about him.)
‘Nuf said. We’ll let Chuk tell the rest.
Zimm’s: How are you related to Spade Cooley? When you were young, were you exposed to his music…did it influence you later when you became interested in playing and writing?
Chuk: Spade is my 3rd cousin and yes, he was talked about through out my whole life. His daughter Melody, and my dad “Dallas Cooley” used to jam together in a band back in the early 80’s called “Roadhouse”. And though Spade didn’t much inspire me musically, it was my dad. I watched him write songs, play guitar and sing a lot growing up. My dad, Dallas was my biggest inspiration musically and to this day he is my biggest inspiration.

Zimm’s: We want to take some time and talk about the eight years you were in prison. Looking back at the path that led you there, can you think of a couple of things that might have kept you straight, or changed the course you chose?
Chuk: Well that’s a good question. I dig answering these questions, they are very interesting. Well I truly believe that my parents weren’t at all ready to have children, but of course who really is? Anyways, I think that if there had been more love and less arguing and more interest shown in us kids I wouldn’t of ended up there. But to be honest, no lie here ,when I was 11 years old, I had this vision of me traveling a roller coaster ride of a life. The vision let me know I would find myself in dark corners of this life, but I would always prevail in the end of it all. Yeah I know it sounds like bull shit. But I’m not lying not one little bit. I truly believe that I was meant to walk this path I’ve walked. All that matters right now is that I’ve found contentment and some happiness in my life, and the music and the band are flowing forward on what’s been so far an intriguing and satisfying journey.

Zimm’s: What effect did being in prison have on your personal life? Not necessarily negative things…what were the positives that came from that period of time in your life?
Who stood by you?
Chuk: Wow, another awesome question. Well it took me a bit to figure out that education was a very important thing to have in life. For the first few years I acted like an outlaw and a criminal for I was one. I was a drug addict, thief, liar, cheater, and ran the life of a bitter young boy that was running from pain and tryin’ to find someone who really gave a damn. And well the law showed they gave a damn by taking my reckless ass off the streets. Its funny now that I can say that I was headed down a one way street to a dead end that was a brick wall that I eventually crashed into. I was actually was looking for my own death. I remember when the judge ask me if I knew what right and wrong was. I answered like this “Judge, right and wrong to me is my pleasure and my pain.” Then he sentenced me. It wasn’t until I got my GED that I starting thinking differently. After that I got a trade in VO-TECH for Building & Maintenance. So then I become starved for education though I’ve always been chasing after something spiritually. So now having the 2 - education & being spiritual together, it did help balance me out some. I learned how to play guitar in prison, something that I knew I would learn, from as far back as I could remember. It’s the best thing about me. Cause the life I’ve lived has gave me these songs of courage and hope for the soul that feels its dying. And that’s no bullshit, that’s how I really believe. For me I do think that I gained a lot from prison.

Zimm’s: Quoting from your bio on MySpace “…eight years in prison actually gave Chuk Cooley a sense of awareness, the time to truly find himself, and an education in the craft of writing meaningful songs.” Tell us how your writing began after entering prison, and how it progressed. Were you encouraged to pursue writing?
Chuk: Prison gave me time to think, I MEAN a lot of time to think, lol, about life and I really had to dig deep to see what I needed to be , because my emotions did confuse me a lot of the time. But this music was determined to find its way out of me. Pain, and the search to find myself, were my biggest inspirations. Writing songs lyrically I’ve been doin’ since I was 12 or 13 years old. I used to copy down all the lyrics from my favorite bands back then. Learning all their different styles from Pink Floyd, Kiss, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Molly Hatchet, Bob Seger and the list goes on & on. I just knew that I always wanted to write meaningful songs that were passionate and had some sort of life message.
Zimm’s: Any “life” insights/advice from your younger years that you’d like to share?
Chuk: I have a few quotes that I learned when I was young, though for some reason I didn’t believe in them when I was young. I found though I still remembered them even when I was in dark and sickening moments. I would say them and laugh back then at them. Though today I still share them on any given day with someone. Because now I truly believe in them 150%. The quotes mean everything when I’m ever down or feel out. The quotes are “Everything’s gonna be alright & the best is yet to come.” and “Its not how long we’ve got to live, its what we do while were alive.” These strong words of wisdom gave and still give me hope. This lifer is about bettering yourself and being a bad mutha fucker. Be a soldier of life and find balance and some harmony and then learn to share that with others around you!
Zimm’s: Are any of your kids thinking about pursuing music seriously? What kind of influence do you think you’ve had on their lives? What part of you do you hope they carry within themselves?
Chuk: All 5 of my kids seem to be musically inclined or seem to have some sort of desire to want to play and possibly perform music. My youngest, Wisdom Ode Li Cooley, seems to be one that loves music the most. He’s 4 yrs old and he sings constantly, loves gettin’ behind the drums and finding a beat that wows everyone in the room. And he has a guitar he plays that he plays left handed upside down. I can only hope that by them seeing me fight so hard to live out this music dream and my love for it equals them as much. I know that I’ve not always been the best parent, but then again who is? But I can honestly say now that I’m a damn good dad. One thing I’ve always found easy to share with them is my love for them. See, they taught me what real love is about and they’ve always loved me the same. I’m their dad and always will be no matter what. And all I’ll ever shown them is my care and my worry and my love for them. This most of all I hope that they learn from me the most, and that’s to never give up on your dreams, and their belief in love and caring for people.
Zimm’s: In addition to Spade, your father wrote and played music. Besides you, is there anyone else that carries on the family tradition?
Chuk: No! Not that I know of.
Zimm’s: Tell us about the current members of “Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers”. How did ya’ll meet?
Chuk: Well I’ve known Tony Loretti our lead guitarist since we were teens in high school. We had a signed band back in the mid 90’s called “Berserkr”. We were signed to Resistance Records. And we’ve always remained friends no matter what life threw at us. Sondra C. I met through this drummer I had been working with. In time the drummer didn’t work out, but she had showed me she was down 150%. We met just 2 years ago. As for Jester, well we’ve had several drummers and out of all of them, Jester seemed as full throttle about playing a lot and writing and giving his all. And so Jester, being a long time friend of mine for over 15 years or so, became our drummer. I had always wanted to jam with him, so I gave him a ring and he said what the hell he’d give it a shot. He had always, like the rest of us, played in heavy metal bands. And so I can remember the first time he came and jammed with us. Afterwards he said the most impressive thing to me, he said, “I’m goin’ to have to reinvent myself for this band.” And hearing that made me realize he heard what I was trying to do, and that was make something powerfully original and yet somewhat simple yet technical. I’ve played in a lot of bands over the years and now I believe that it was all training for what I do now musically. I think we all had to reinvent ourselves for this music and band.
Zimm’s: When you’re not on tour and just hanging out with family and friends, what are some of your favorite things to do? Do you try to work the tour schedule around family?
Chuk: I definitely believe to tour you have to find a comfort zone out on the road, and so sometimes havin’ family along doesn’t make things comfortable. To perform these songs are an emotional thing for me, with having to relive them over each nite we play. So there’s definitely time made for everyone. When I’m at home with the family we talk a lot and find time to go walking and exercising a lot more now days. We are all about some movie watching and checking out new restaurants as well. We love going out to eat to different places. I also am involved in making our videos and writing the scripts for them. That’s found me involved with a new movie coming out called “Why I Love Tulsa”. I’m directing my first ever short feature film for this movie, along with 19 other directors from the Tulsa area. We all get 2 days to film a 5 minute short film about love in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’ve found that I enjoy making videos and doing film as well. I’m also a tattoo artist. Have been for 18 years and so I enjoy that as well.
Zimm’s: We almost always ask this question because we almost always get a different answer. When it comes to writing and composing, some musicians actually structure time daily, like a job. Others just sit down when something hits home and just start writing. How do you work?
Chuk: I am most definitely a feel song writer. I’ve always kind of found that if you’re writing everyday, the songs will all tend to start sounding the same. My songs come from certain moments in my life that I’ve been analyzing over a brief time, or been emotionally drawn to write about. I’m about capturing real moments in a song form. These songs are wrote for inspiring the uninspired. I write the structures and over all, the basic song. Then I take it into the Demon Hammers and let them do their thing to it.
Zimm’s: You’re a seasoned musician. You’ve been doing this for quite awhile now and know what works for you and what doesn’t. You’ve also seen other musicians come and go. If you could give advice to up and coming musicians, what would it be?
Chuk: I’m goin’ to just answer the last part of that question.
Play your own music, find your own way, hear your own sound, be yourself no matter what. Yet find inspiration in all kinds of music. Go through your trends and your styles takin’ the best parts from them to create your own thing in the end. Be an innovator not a duplicator. Be true and real and learn how to promote and get along with other bands around you. All you have is each other to make your music happen. Find brotherhood and camaraderie in playing music for, and with other musicians as well. Follow your heart and let your mind help guide you! Be genuine and never give up on your dream, cause if you do, you are only giving up on yourself.
I don’t care how old you are, it’s all about leaving something worth remembering behind.
- ZIMMS MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT REVIEW, KANSAS CITY, LESLIE FROM ZIMMS


Discography

"VOLUME 1" EP
"LOOK AT US NOW" 2008
"BORN REBELS" RELEASE DATE MARCH 2010

Photos

Bio

Chuk Cooley is a bluesy, southern, tattooed rocker trying to share his life story through songs - a story of courage and change that he called “Heart and soul anthems from the streets of hell”. After many years of being in and out of bands, Chuk finally went solo… with words and music he had written over 20 years of hard life. With just an acoustic guitar and his voice, Chuk started opening for heavy metal acts such as Jackyl, Soldiers Of Scrape, Blood of the Sun, Rhino Bucket, and many many others. Though there was something missing, so.. On a dark, rainy October day in Tulsa, Chuk met a bass-player named Sondra Davis and they immediately hit it off and started jamming. A short time later Chuk asked lifelong friend and heavy rock guitarist Tony Loretti to learn a few of the songs for a recording. Chuk and Tony had previously been bandmates in the groundbreaking metal group Berserkr. These additions started to really fill out the sound of Chuk’s songs, and he then recruited drummer Jester. When the four musicians first played together as a unit, the chemistry was immediate and undeniable. After just a few jam sessions it was clear that something very special was happening. With just two acoustic guitars, an acoustic bass, some flute, and a five-piece trap kit, Chuk’s songs came to LIFE.