Michale Graves

Interview: Carlos ‘Loki’ Cofino – “I’m taking more of a partnership and leadership role with Michale and my main focus is just to take this as high as I can”

Michale Graves

Fresh off the back of the highly successful recent UK tour with Michale Graves, Lee Webb had the privilege to chat with Mr Carlos ‘Loki’ Cofino. Fans worldwide know Loki from the bands Gotham Road, Michale Graves and touring with Argyle Goolsby and the Roving Midnight. During this chat we learned more with regards to tour life, musical influences, future projects and a career overview.

What’s up everyone, I’m Lee, representing Devolution Magazine, and I have a very special guest here today, former Gotham Road and current Michale Graves’s guitarist, Mr Carlos ‘Loki’ Cofino. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today.

Right on, thank you for having me!

First of all, I want to start with a question I know the UK fan base is dying to know, how was your experience on the recent tour in the UK with Michale Graves & So Long Until The Séance:

I didn’t know what to expect because we hadn’t been there as a band at all, I remember our previous attempts to get there were unsuccessful because promoters were reluctant to have us because they didn’t know what kind of numbers we would bring in. I gotta say, not that I was surprised, I always had confidence that it would go well, but I was happy that it did because it allows us the opportunity to come back, I enjoyed myself, I had a great time and the support bands were great.

The fan response to the shows was phenomenal, there are reviews going up daily online that I have read, each one of them positive and shows just how much the fans enjoyed the whole experience, so definitely come back again to the UK!

Its gonna happen, it’s just about timing, there is a lot of stuff going on that we haven’t announced yet, we will be back there it’s just a matter of getting the time right.

The second leg of the European tour with is about to begin, covering a wide range of venues and cities; how does it feel to be a part of the tour and traveling to so many places?

I’m excited about that too, we just recently announced that Goolsby’s gonna be playing bass, not only in Europe but from here on out he’s in the band as the bass player. I know that Germany loves to have some Goolsby so there all really excited about that. Yeah man like I said it’s the same thing as the first part of the European tour, it’s the first time Michale’s been here and playing these songs since he was in The Misfits. So that’s a big deal and I know everyone is excited and I’m excited to bring it to them and show people that Michale has still got it!, if not maybe better than ever before. He’s still very energetic on stage and they’re going to get a true experience out of it that they haven’t seen since The Misfits.

How does it vary touring across America and Europe, is it’s a different experience or does it feel very much the same?

It’s a little different, especially when we just did the UK run, the drives were a lot shorter, I remember people asking us, OMG you’re driving from Wales to Scotland?. I was like actually it’s not that bad, a 7 hour drive is a long drive, but in the US you could do that more often than not, 7 hours is not the most brutal drive we’ve ever done. It’s huge in the states but, everything is a lot closer, almost all the places we will be playing are a lot closer together, it’s not as testing on the body and everything else, were not as tired when we get to gigs, so that’s how it differs. Plus in the US it’s so freaking big to hit everywhere and make everyone happy, you also have to be on the road for a really long time. If you have noticed US tours are really long they can go on for like two and a half months at a time. It’s a long time to be away, so that’s the main way it differs, to make everyone happy, you gotta be gone for a really long time.

I understand how hard it is to make everyone happy and please them, but you guys are the prime example of making it happen, you’re on tour constantly, every time I log online I see more dates announced in the US, it’s incredible how hard you guys work.

We still can’t do it, people still complain, hey you didn’t hit this town, it’s like well….it wouldn’t hurt you to driver an hour away ha-ha, you know? I do a trip often, I live in Nashville right now, I travel to New Jersey often because I still have a house up there, that’s a 14 hour drive, I do that maybe once every two months.

How did your musical bond first start with Michale? I know you guys go way back

That’s a long story, when The Misfits broke up, Michale and Chud didn’t have a band, I was dating a girl who lived across the street from Chud’s mother. Me and my friend Tom Logan, he’s an awesome dude who ended up playing guitar for the original Graves band. We had a band and we stuck a CD on Chud’s truck underneath his windshield wiper and a note, we wrote were in a band and doing this project, you’re not in The Misfits anymore and we wanted to know if your available. He wrote back to Tom, I didn’t have a cell phone back then or anything so Tom gave his contact information, he said I’m not gonna join your band but we are looking for a guitarist for the band I’m in, Graves. So Tom went in and auditioned, he bought me along because that was half my music on that CD, I was like Tom if you get in, your bringing me with you on the road otherwise there’s gonna be a problem ha-ha. He ended up getting the gig, he bought me along and I ended up being the guitar tech for the Graves band for 2 years. In that time me and Michale become really close, the chemistry was there with me and him from the start. When it didn’t work out between him and Chud, Graves the band disbanded and I had been writing music all that time and that’s kind of how Gotham Road formed, right there and then. I showed him some music and he was able to put some lyrics and melody to it, which surprised me because it was very different to anything he had done, when I was able to hear that back it was pretty much the birth of Gotham Road.

That brings me perfectly onto the next topic I wanted to bring up, compared to Graves, Gotham Road was very different, it had a unique mix of raw, untamed sound that was just totally unique for the time, and it truly was a work of art.

Well thank you, it was never intended or at least much of that music to ever be in Michale’s hands, I was writing that and I was gonna start a metal band, that’s why you hear a lot of metal influence in there. I was listening to a lot of At the Gates, In Flames, The Haunted, The Darkest Hour. It was very much that Swedish style, ‘Seasons of the Witch’ is very much a Swedish metal song. So yeah it was never my intention to give that to Michale, we jammed it one day and he had things worked out for it and I heard what was coming out of him I thought this is perfect! So I ended up using most of that material with Michale and it worked really really well. I never intended it to go that way but it just worked out perfect.

To this day that E.P. is still widely sought after by fans, original CD’s are extremely hard to come by, how does it feel to know the music has stood the test of time and is still loved by both old and new fans still discovering it?

It’s crazy to me, I had recently found, I think like 150 CD’s when I was cleaning out my old house in New Jersey and when I put that online they went away almost immediately ha-ha, it really is crazy to me. It’s hard as I don’t think Gotham Road will ever be a band again, but I and Michale have constantly talked about properly recording the tracks and repackaging something so people can have that again, so it gets a proper release. Those songs were never mastered they were just raw mixes, so I think it deserves something. Whereas now we can polish it up and make it sound how I always wanted it to sound and have his vocals produced the way you’re used to hearing his vocals, it deserves a proper release and I think we might just do that, but it’s a delicate situation.

I totally understand, it would be amazing though to hear and see it properly released, ever since the last one off reunion show in 2014 at Dingbatz, there’s been videos from the night circulating the net.

Yeah that was the last time I think we all got together all in one room, it’s been a long time.

It shows to this day the fan base is still very interested in Gotham Road and a proper release would definitely sell.

Yeah I think it would, I wanna do that not only for the fan base but for myself, I know there hungry for it, I feel the music deserves it and I would love to do that for it.

I was lucky enough to catch you on tour in London a few years ago with another project you are involved in, Argyle Goolsby and the Roving Midnight, how did you become involved with the project

One day Goolsby caught me at I think Dingbatz, after a show telling me that he was finishing writing a record and he wanted me to be involved, Goolsby’s previous releases were a little more goth, a little more rock n roll, they didn’t have that edge that Blitzkid had and his aim was to get a little bit of that edge back and he thought I would be the perfect guy to fill that role for that band. I agreed to record on the whole record, I play both lead and rhythm guitar on the whole record. I was pretty much there to be the role of the aggressive player and bring the high gain tone that was my role in that band.

That night Goolsby let the crowd know that you had been on the road for the best part of a year! With different bands including the Michale Graves band, you are a machine! Ha-ha, how do stay on the road that long and keep your performance so fresh and energetic?

It’s hard, but if I know I’m gonna be on such a roll like that I take care of my body, I had lost a lot of weight that helped, I think at that point I was down like 60 pounds, from when I started. Just being more fit and being more conscious of what you do every day, just making sure you stay fresher, stretch and exercise. All the stuff that you didn’t have to do when you were 20 but now have to do when your nearly 40 ha-ha. It is hard work but you get into a mental state that it has to be done and plus I grew up wanting to do this and now it’s really coming in to ahead, were probably at the height of the success right now with the whole Michale Graves project. I enjoy every minute of it as this is what I wanted.

I have a few questions from my Devolution team mate, Mr Lucas Chapel, he has asked what are the fundamental differences between touring and performing with The Roving Midnight and touring with Graves’s band?

For me personally its different, because with Michale I take more of a leadership role, I’ve been with him for so long that I know how and what his expectations are the level he wants things and how I want things. So with Michale I take more of a leadership role, I’m the tour manager so I have a lot of responsibility. With Goolsby I’m just there to play guitar, so it’s a lot easier on me, I show up play guitar, I am able to just enjoy the experience, Goolsby takes charge on that one. It’s nice to take a step back and enjoy the change of pace.

The other question from Lucas is, we all know Loki likes a good party and can keep up with the best of them, what are some of his funnier or crazier stories from on the road after a few beverages have been consumed?

Ha-ha, I do enjoy a good whisky, and in the UK man I was in heaven, it felt like I was in New Jersey, everyone was loud, shouting obscenities and drinking whisky, I was like yeah this is the place for me ha-ha. Any road stories about partying?…probably not one I could tell publicly ha-ha, but there have been some good times, I think in Cardiff I went out with some of the guys, that was the first time our sound guy was able to party with us, we just went out on the town it was a good night. I try not to have that too much because like I said we tour for months at a time, I honestly try and keep that to a minimum and that’s how were able to tour for so long. You can’t abuse your body like that and then expect to play that amount of shows. There’s a big dream out there for everyone, like a myth that were all here out there partying nonstop. Reality is it’s a lot of driving and a lot of mental toughness, so yeah there’s not a whole lot of partying going on.

Yeah I can imagine man, being on the road for like you said 2 months in America at a time, you can’t party every day and then play every night.

Yeah if I did that my career would be really short ha-ha.

Musically what are you main influences from childhood to present day?

Well I was born in 78, I’m gonna be 40 this year I came up through the hay bay of guitar playing, I loved Van Halen, all the 80s bands I was really into it, those bands had some great guitar players, they may look cheesy these days but it was awesome back then. You turn around and a lot of the players now are trying to emulate what those guitar players did back in the 80s. There’s a lot of the same tones, similar playing styles. So yeah that’s where I came from, that was my first influence, my biggest influence since then was probably Jerry Cantrell and John Petrucci, I think when you hear my playing you can hear those two the most inside my playing I think Jerry Cantrell especially.

It’s amazing to hear what influenced you past and present, essentially you are a role model to young and upcoming guitar players, there are many who look up to you, you’re playing style and the career you have built.

When I was younger, I didn’t want to be in the public image like Joe or Jason or anyone else who came up in the horror rock scene that has a name for them self like Goolsby, I was the opposite I just wanted to rock and play guitar. That was my whole purpose and focus, which hurt me a bit later on because I was so unknown, people didn’t know much about me, what my goals were and just generally not knowing who I am. So I have started to change a little of that, I’m starting to get myself more out there, it’s still a little uncomfortable for me, I don’t like being the centre of attention, but I have put more of an effort into being more available and not being so private about it.

Well thank you for taking the time today to have this interview, I hope it gives fans more of an insight into yourself, your career and music journey.

Well thank you, I know I play with the power house Michale and I know the attention goes to him and I accept that, I like it because I am not super comfortable with being the centre of attention, but this is cool man, I like it were trying to build the band together, make everyone just as valuable, so it’s good that I get to do stuff like this.

The next topic I want to bring up is, your solo material, I recently heard your cover of ‘New Day’ by the Bouncing Souls, and it’s incredible! Can we expect to hear more solo work in the future from you?

It is, unfortunately that had to take a back seat because it almost seemed out of nowhere we got so busy, I planned on releasing it this year but then the US tour ended in December and we were in the UK in January and Michale’s now on an acoustic tour that I have been bouncing in and out of, I’m actually leaving today, I have a five hour drive today to go to Mississippi. Then Europe came, next Canada and we have something else planned that I can’t talk about just yet, so yeah the tour schedule became hugely populated very quickly and I just couldn’t work on my solo material, next fall I can’t work on it again as we have another tour from September until December in the US and Canada. So I’ve been a busy boy and my solo material had to take a back seat, I do have songs written and recorded for it, I need to get a couple more down before I can give it E.P status, maybe 25-30mins of music, so yeah there is a little more to do on it yet. Every aspect of that recording even down to producing and engineering is all down to me, that’s gonna be like a showcase, there’s not much out there showcasing what I can do so that release will be really focused, it’s not just gonna be punk rock it’s gonna be a little of everything from where I come from musically, where I come from and how wide my range is. I’m excited to get it out, I keep wanting to leak bits out ha-ha to get people more excited.

So finally, what does the future hold for Loki

I’m taking more of a partnership and leadership role with Michale and my main focus is just to take this as high as I can, we have a plan in place and things are really coming down as planned, I expect things to get bigger and better, this momentum is going to keep growing and bringing us to bigger things. It’s crazy to talk about it but we already have a plan for say two years down the line of where we should be so I am fully dedicated and putting all of my efforts and power into putting this Michale Graves machine as high as it can get.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today, now you’ve said you have a 5 hour drive today I appreciate it even more dude, we hope to see you back over here real soon brother!

It’s no worries man, it’s an honour that you guys would have me and I’m excited for what’s to come, we still have so much to announce and a lot of work to do but we will definitely be back to the UK.


Interview By Lee Webb

Photo Credit: Alan Snodgrass