So What! Article

Pop Quiz With Rhys Cooper

Jul 19, 2021

BY STEFFAN CHIRAZI

Australian artist Rhys Cooper from Melbourne has proudly created work for bands such as Metallica, Queens of the Stone Age, The Bronx, Misfits, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, and many others. He’s also worked with film studios Mondo, Star Wars, and Marvel. Rhys' art prints can also be found in pop culture galleries and shows around the world… that’s the bit Rhys sent us. What he didn’t mention is that he is quite possibly a mad bastard who enjoys wild and woolly adventures the likes of which would have most of us sprinting for the safety of our sofas! Rhys gives us a little peak into his crazy, crazy world via another of our fun pop quizzes.

1. The first place you heard Metallica was…
It would have been way back in high school, it's a long time ago now haha. [Rhys declined to put a number here, so we’re guessing ~1990. – ED]

2. The first place you heard The Black Album was…
I think The Black Album was the first Metallica one to grab my attention; I didn't have a lot of access to metal back then, but was a big fan of metal cover art.

3. The last time you were drunk at a gig was…
I'm a bit boring and don't really drink at gigs, so I couldn't remember… actually yes, I can! I made a deal with a friend to trade a metal show for a rap one so got blind drunk before seeing Xzibit so I could cope. Haha, it was a fun night.

4. The time you got close to an outback scare was…
Every day living in Australia is an outback scare, I've been stalked at night by a croc before. A mate a I were travelling through Northern Queensland, and late at night had to catch the last ferry back across the Daintree River so we didn't get stuck in the bush all night. This ferry was small, could only fit maybe three cars, but it was just us. And you could see these large shapes swimming alongside in the water all the way, and their eyes would shine from the car's headlights. The Daintree is famous for giant crocodiles, so we stayed in the car. Sadly about a month later I heard a kid and his dog were eaten right near where the ferry lands.

5. The last time you felt angry was…
I don't get angry, I get even.

6. The last time you felt elation was…
Working on projects like this is always very fun for me, to engage with other artists and musicians, tap into what they are saying with their art and then building on it in a way people enjoy that still speaks to me is really rewarding.

7. The last time you went roaming was…
I like to go bush walking with my dog; it's peaceful to get out in the wild to listen to and absorb nature. Great time to clear your head and think of concepts for art.

8. The last time you felt out of control was…
We [Melbourne] had to go into a long lockdown last year when the world went to shit, so there was a real feeling of losing a little control, but you do what you need to in order to get through tough times.

9. The last time a piece of art made you emotional was…
When Cap picked up Mjölnir [one for Marvel comics fans].

10. The last time you saw a skull in your dreams was…
Every night, just before I shut my eyes.

11. The last time you saw a real skull was…
I collect skulls so, if talking the non-human variety, then maybe 30 mins ago!

12. The last time you felt in real danger was…
Another outback scare… I was on the beach having a break after just jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet. So my body was exhausted and, if that wasn’t scary enough, I turned around and a huge cassowary was right behind me at eye to eye level. It had walked out of the rainforest with no sound and was like a velociraptor. I froze and slowly started to back up and told my mate who was visiting Australia to get in the car; it followed me the whole way and was very tense, I really didn't want to mess with those claws.

13. The last time you listened to The Black Album was…
It wouldn't have been long ago, it's on pretty regular rotation here when I'm working around the house.

14. Tell us how you arrived at your “Roam” piece.
I was excited to be asked to be a part of a Black Album tribute piece and selected “Roam” to base the artwork on. Roam speaks to me the most, especially after going through some issues and a rough lockdown last year.

I was literally alone while working on that piece, so I could tap into the sense of isolation – though not on the road – I was still separated from friends and family so had to be self-reliant and mentally tough to get through. It was also the end of a pretty important relationship in my life, so the lyric of severing my ties clean really spoke to me and actually provided me with some inner strength to push forward. By being forced to simplify my life I was actually gaining more insight; the less I have the more I gain.

The theme of my piece is a drifter revenant who has died many times and lived many lives on the road. He's been shot, stabbed, hung, poisoned, and bitten but keeps roaming the lands giving zero fucks to those trying to stop him.