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Tim Cote spotlights regional bands with Dog Cop sessions

Joplin, Missouri-based musician Tim Cote is the founder of both Dog Cop Records and the Dog Cop Sessions. He says that he formed the label and the online music video series as a way to foster community among regional musicians.

Tim Cote's Dog Cop Records, headquartered in Joplin, Missouri, offers regional bands a chance to shine in a number of ways, including the web video series, Dog Cop Sessions.

Visit the label's official site and you'll see performances from the deeply imaginative Blister Soul, the no-holds-barred Manners and the soulful, poetic Caleb Paxton.

It's an eclectic mix that fits Cote's tastes well and speaks to his enthusiasm for a diverse array of bands culled from a variety of corners. The Dog Cop roster includes acts from Wichita: Daikini, Season Adrift; Kansas City, Missouri, MFTB, and Joplin, Bo Yellis.

Cote says he started Dog Cop as a collective for bands, a way to provide mentorship and networking for younger acts, a way for him to share his wealth of information.

"It's people I want to help along in the next part of their journey," he says. "As I'm growing the label, I'm growing all these bands with me."

The circle of the band reaches from Joplin to Wichita, where Cote continues as a drummer with The Travel Guide. He also drums for Dum Dum Boys and plays bass in Verbose and recently co-founded the art/music project Horse Crime. (He also spent a number of years drumming for regional favorite Me Like Bees.)

"I quit that band and wanted to have more control over what I wanted to do," he says. "I wanted to make something real."

His desire to make something real and to have a central location for a number of acts he was involved in led to the label. That, coupled with a burgeoning DIY music scene in Joplin, led to the Dog Cop Sessions.

It is, in short, he says, a desire to represent a large — and growing — regional musical community.

Cote recently spoke with KMUW about the label and the video sessions.

Interview Highlights

Tell me about the decision to start a label at a time when people are putting out their own records or moving away from the idea of record labels?

The impetus for starting a label was actually community. Everyone keeps trying so hard to put out their own stuff, but I thought it would be easier to work together in groups. The idea is that I have friends who have different skill sets. They all are very talented musicians. Some of them can help each other, so it's kind of this collective … I might have friends in Wichita that are good at booking shows there; I have friends in Joplin and Kansas City that are good at booking shows. So now we've fulfilled a need where they're doing a regional area within the community of Dog Cop Records. I meet a lot of people who are good at video work or sound design, so it's just a group of people working together on the basis of helping each other [rather than constantly working] on their own. It's an interesting community of musicians that I'm trying to curate.

It's interesting because you often find that there are skill sets spread across a band — one guy will be good with accounting, one guy will be the graphic designer. Another might be the mechanic and fix the tour van.

[When I was with] Me Like Bees, I was the accountant, I was the booking agent. I was the graphic designer. You can get very far with that but there a lot of bands that I meet who are [immediately] in need of a graphic designer, someone who knows enough to help them with CDs or T-shirts. That's the first thing I do for a lot of bands.

A lot of bands also don't know where to start. I take an approach much like therapy where we ladder step it back and try to find their big goals. Then we ladder step it month-by-month or quarter-by-quarter to where it's attainable goals to where they can get to their big vision. A lot of them know what they want but they don't know how to get there.

I had this one band say, "We just want to go as far as we want." I said, "That's not going to cut it. You've got to have something attainable." If I told you, "This year I'm going to lose weight," do you think I'm going to lose weight? Probably not. But if I said, "In three months, I'd like to lose five pounds," that's realistic. That's pretty easy to do.

I want bands to have a tangible goal, and I help bring it out of them.

Let's talk about the Dog Cop Sessions specifically.

I am interested in only live music for the most part. There is a certain energy that is created live, all at one time that can't seem to be re-created step-by-step through multi-tracking. It's genuine, it's pure. It gets me going. It gets the energy up. I want to capture as much of that as possible, through video, through audio. I'm still learning, but I'm trying to capture the essence of these bands live as I see them and as I hear them, and I try to share it with people as much as can be captured.

There's really something about live performances because you're getting something special, one time.

You're getting something special and when you look at the video [of the band Manners] you can tell that [the band] is having fun. Not only are they a band but, beyond that, you can tell that they're friends. They can tell they have fun together. You can tell that they're connected as humans, which is also very interesting. Not all bands have that. To capture that is almost magical.

Let's talk about the regional side of this. There are different periods of time when certain cities have synergy with each other based on the bands there and the friendships between the bands. There have been times when there are strong bonds between Wichita and Lawrence or Wichita and Columbia, Missouri.

When I was in Me Like Bees, I developed friendships in Wichita and Kansas City, and I'm able to tap into that now and then grow it out to my Springfield, Missouri friends. I think it's easier to make that regional thing happen when there's a central hub and when you know that there's an actual organization happening. I'm trying to curate it. I don't want to seem like I'm the know-all of it, but I would love to figure it out. I think having a central platform for those bands to work together would be helpful.

There's a noticeable aesthetic with Dog Cop.

I call it dirty recording. It's going to be gritty, it's going to have a few mistakes in it. It's not going to be clean. But it's going to be loud, fast and full of energy. When you mix that with the visual, you get a full-encompassing picture of the entire emotion of what a band's going through.

If I had a band, how would I go about landing a Dog Cop session? What does my band get out of it?

It's not an inquiry. You can't just come to a Dog Cop session. You have to be invited. You have to be invited to my house. I have to be comfortable with you and my wife has to be comfortable with you here. It's a very safe space for me.

After that, I see the band live in a close, intimate environment, see where they're at, [they're often very] talented. They just need some help. That's just easier because I can see the bigger picture because I'm very particular about certain things. A lot of what these bands are looking for is [honesty]. They've asked everybody and they just want somebody to be honest with them. I think that's what's really helpful: just honest feedback.

Jedd Beaudoin is host/producer of the nationally syndicated program Strange Currency. He has also served as an arts reporter, a producer of A Musical Life and a founding member of the KMUW Movie Club. As a music journalist, his work has appeared in Pop Matters, Vox, No Depression and Keyboard Magazine.