John Sinclair’s Gospel on The Cooters

The Cooters have been a pain in the ass for the nervous authorities who rule the little college town of Oxford, Mississippi since the release of their first recording in 1994, a 7” vinyl disc on the Assault With Intent To Free label called “The South Shall Burn Again.”

The single was sleeved with a striking photograph of a hooded youth, apparently preparing to hurl a Molotov cocktail at the county courthouse on the Oxford town square, an image that struck fear in the hearts and bowels of the local establishment. The image was way ahead of its time.

But in 1994, The Cooters were already known to the forces of law and order from their weekly series of wild parties at the infamous Cooter Family Estate on Highway 334 in Lafayette County.

Everyone from members of Green Day to Wilco to the North Mississippi Allstars played at The Cooter Estate, and the band quickly gained a reputation as THE DIY-friendly stop in the Bible Belt.  Besides the typical fanzines of the day, The Cooters even got a mention in Entertainment Weekly in 1993, and by 1994, MTV was calling.

Eventually, The Cooters moved their headquarters to a ranch near Abbeville, Mississippi known as “The Funny Farm” and began to formulate their ferocious songs of world domination from there.

Cooters Headquarters has been re-positioned over the years, here and there around Ole Miss, but one constant has remained the same over the last twenty-years: The Cooters have ravaged Mississippi, the South, the Midwest, the East and the West Coast, touring with reckless abandon, and causing RocknRoll mayhem to happen nearly everywhere they go.

Left to their own devious devices, The Cooters have kept hammering away at the hostile world around them, rocking havoc on an endless string of audiences, and leaving behind evidence, like their exceptional 2002 Album, “The Moon Will Rise Again”, produced by Rick Clark at Ardent Studios in Memphis and released on the Grammy-Nominated T-Bones Records, by Tim Romanofsky.

In 2004, there was The Cooters’ excellent Profane Existence Record “Punk Metal”, produced by Tom Queyja at The Lip and at Dennis Herring‘s Sweet Tea Studios, which were both located in Oxford, Mississippi back then. Both studios are now located in Los Angeles today.

Close behind those seminal Cooters releases was the 2006 album “Chaos or Bust”, produced by Kevin Cubbins at Easley Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. “Chaos or Bust” was one of the last albums to be recorded and mixed at the infamous Memphis studio before it burned down.

Newt Cooter Rayburn and Gentry “Raw Cooter” Webb are the creative geniuses behind The Cooters moniker and Oxford, Mississippi couldn’t be more oblivious to this fantastic RocknRoll institution.

Despite some twenty-plus years on the scene, despite touring consistently for 20 years, despite releasing over a dozen records, despite Mississippi Public Broadcasting doing an entire one-hour television special on the band, The Cooters are still seen as the underdogs in the area.

Shame, shame on Mississippi yet again.

Newt Cooter gets most of the lead vocals, and with his partner Raw Cooter, the duo rages and claws at their listeners, riding the pounding rhythms of Mikey Namorato (aka “Judas Cooter“) like no other band known in the Deep South.

Mercy is simply not in the picture, and from the first cut to the last, it’s just like The Cooters say: “We make music like it’s meant to be heard… loud and proud with blood and sweat to burn.”

There’s no way to stop them now.

– John Sinclair
…poet, MC5 manager, activist…
Detroit, Michigan