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Will Cole's road to tradition

I’m waiting for Will Cole in the parking lot of Tasty Top, the iconic Easthampton, Mass. roadside ice cream stand, as dark clouds roll in and the air grows still and humid. The idea is to do a photoshoot at the adjacent Easthampton Golf, sort of a nod to Will’s dad, an avid golfer and little bit to Cole’s youth. I’ve got the golf cart and a bucket of balls reserved but that plan goes south. There’s a storm coming and Will’s running late and I still need to interview him. When he does arrive, he hops out of his super-sized Lincoln Town Car and quickly apologizes, but rehearsals with his dad, British expat and singer-songwriter Lloyd Cole, were running a bit late.

Will Cole plays The Elevens in Northampton, June 9th and 10th
Vincent Bator

Cole’s home for the summer from school and about to start his summer job — playing with his dad as sideman on a European tour that goes to the U.K., Ireland, Germany, and France. This will be a rather novel experience for him and that novelty has nothing to do with the actual job itself. Cole’s looking forward to spending a chunk of time with his dad. Cole reflects on the fact that his dad spends a lot of time on the road “at his job” to support his mom, younger brother and himself. He has no illusions that his dad’s profession is glamorous by any stretch of the imagination; which is a good thing to acknowledge as the younger Cole, who at 19, embarks upon his own musical career.

In the meantime, he’s been learning his dad’s extensive back catalog — from the Commotions to the Negatives and the solo stuff in between. He’s just about mastered all of it and on this day was learning and rehearsing material from his dad's 2010 release, Broken Record. Just in the nick of time, as Cole and his dad play a handful of warm up dates on the East Coast, prior to the European tour next week. The first two shows are this weekend at the Elevens in Northampton, Mass.

As a young child, Cole had a vague idea of his dad’s profession, but it didn’t resonate with him until he saw the video for the older Cole’s song, “Fool You Are.” He was 10 years old when he saw the movie, School of Rock, and that event was a turning point for him. He says that he identified with the kids in the film and decided he was going to play music. Cole learned his first chords from his dad, and at age 11, took guitar lessons from legendary Valley musician, Jim Armenti (Lonesome Brothers, Klezamir, Young @ Heart Chorus).

Cole never felt any pressure from his dad to play music, much less go into the buisness. Cole says his dad had practical concerns about his decision, but gave him all the pros and cons upfront. From his father’s experience, Cole knows how hard the work can be, not to mention how financially unlucrative it can be. He’s inherited his dad’s practical side and is pursuing a degree in recorded music at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts while working on music demos at his own pace.

Cole says his summer job is a great opportunity to travel, experience his dad’s world firsthand, and help pay his tuition. The bonus, for him, is doing what he loves to do — play music.


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