“I’ve tried to write music with a particular sound or theme in mind, but I’ve never really gotten the hang of it,” Denver singer/songwriter Brent Cowles shared with AXS during a recent interview. “I find it's best to just let the floodgates open and see what happens.” Cowles spent several years with Fort Collins-based indie rock band You Me & Apollo until the band amicably went their separate ways in December 2014. Now, the Colorado Springs native is focused on his solo career, which he chatted about during this exclusive Q&A.
AXS: Are you a Denver native? If not, where are you from originally?
Brent Cowles: I’m not a native to Denver, but I am to Colorado. I was born in Colorado Springs.
AXS: What inspired you to start playing music?
Brent: I started playing guitar because I thought it was cool, and my friends were also learning; but when I started writing songs, I fell in love with music. Songwriting became my way of expressing thoughts and emotions that, otherwise, wouldn’t have an outlet. At this point, I honestly have no idea what I would do besides music, though I’m sure the possibilities are plenty. I’m mostly inspired to do what makes me happy.
AXS: How long have you been performing?
Brent: I started performing when I was 13 or 14.
AXS: Where was your first show in Denver, and what was the experience like? Who else did you play with at the show?
Brent: My first show in Denver was at the Meadowlark. I played solo for a show and drank enough well whiskey not to remember who it was with, it was a good night in Denver, Colorado.
AXS: Have any Denver musicians inspired you?
Brent: Nathaniel Rateliff has been an inspiration in my life for many years. From songwriting to performing, Nathaniel is one hell of a talented musician. He’s currently touring with his project Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, if you haven’t heard them you need to.
AXS: What projects are you currently working on?
Brent: I’m currently working on developing my solo project.
AXS: Do you have a goal in mind for the sound the you produce? Are there certain influences or themes the you try to inject into its own music?
Brent: I’ve tried to write music with a particular sound or theme in mind, but I’ve never really gotten the hang of it. I find it's best to just let the floodgates open and see what happens.
AXS: For someone who has never seen or heard you, what would you tell them to entice them to watch your set?
Brent: I’d tell them to go listen to my music online. I usually won’t pay to see music unless I know what it sounds like; or if I receive a recommendation from someone I trust, and even then I’ll probably do some research before buying a ticket to the show.
AXS: What would your ideal live show look like? Where would it take place? Any particular time of year? Would a specific band/musician share the bill with or open for you?
Brent: My ideal live show would mostly involve dancing puppies and BLT’s served to everyone on vinyl records. It would take place at the Fillmore and I would be opening for DeVotchKa, John Lennon, and Bill Murray.
AXS: What shows are you looking forward to over the next few months?
Brent: I’m looking forward to playing the UMS festival in Denver July 23-26, as well as the Belly Up in Aspen on July 26th with Lucero. I’m also very excited to see Jurassic 5 July 19th at the Mishawaka and Wilco at Red Rocks.
AXS: What do you enjoy most about Denver’s music scene, and why?
Brent: What I enjoy most about Denver are the people who strive everyday to continually develop and support the growing music scene. There is something special happening in the music world of Denver, and there are some amazing people working hard behind the scenes to make sure it continues. The Greater Than Collective is a prime example of a group of people working towards the goal of cultivating a notable music scene in the Denver/Northern Colorado area.