Over the last fifteen years, Ed Cosens has made short work of the “rock star bucket list”. As bassist and co-songwriter of the Reverend and The Makers, Cosens played Glastonbury twice, consistently released top 10 albums and headlined shows across the world. Now, he is at the final agenda: the solo album.
As the rain pours down on another mundane Wednesday in winter lockdown, my laptop screen is lit up by Cosens appearing from his front room. From the first second, he is warm, smiling and stoic. Despite describing himself as “the quiet one” in his relationship with childhood friend and long-term musical collaborator John “The Reverend” McClure, Cosens is not short of opinions and insightful comments. We chat for as long as a free Zoom call will allow us, with our conversation flowing from playing Wembley with Oasis to watching his five-year old son discover the joy of musical creativity over lockdown.
We begin, though, with the reason why we’re both together- albeit virtually. Cosens’ debut solo record “Fortunes Favour”, an album which has been yet another musical victim of the pandemic. Recorded in 2018 and set for initial release in 2020, the album was pushed back to January 2021 and has now been pushed back to April. As well as being impacted by the pandemic, this album is unique for Cosens as he’s on his own this time, without a band to
back him up. “It’s a big change from working with a whole crew of people. This is very much me on my own with an acoustic guitar”, he states, gazing into the distance. “You don’t get that same instant tweaking of ideas”. That is certainly evident on the album, with a
freshness and rawness present in Cosens’ songwriting which is little like we’ve seen before. These songs have come “to a more natural conclusion”, in Cosens’ words. They are intensely personal tracks, based on Cosens’ own experiences of love.
“Every living musician, whether they admit it or not, is inspired by the Beatles”
Compared to the Reverend and the Makers’ influences of Oasis and Primal Scream, Cosens cites the Beatles as playing a greater part in the construction of the album. As he begins to talk about The Beatles, Cosens’ face lights up. “Every living musician, whether they admit it or not, is inspired by the Beatles”, Cosens begins. A bold statement, to say the least. “Even if you don’t like the Beatles, you can’t say you haven’t been influenced by them”. With shades
of Lennon solo tracks and more laidback Beatles tracks, “Fortunes Favour” brings out the chilled “bar-stall” side in Cosens, compared to the stomping and roaring side we’re more familiar with.
Another unique feature of this album is the music videos attached to the three singles which have been released. Instead of generic music videos, usually containing lads in leather jackets, strolling around and mouthing the lyrics grumpily, Cosens has helped to put
together a cinematic and aesthetic short film. He describes it as a “proper video”, with a clear narrative and professional acting. These videos are further testament not only to Cosens’ all-round creativeness, but his attention to detail. No stone, lyric or chord
progression is left unturned.
As mentioned earlier, Cosens has been around some absolute legends of the music scene, including a spot on Oasis’ last ever tour of the UK. When I mention the tour, a dry grin cracks across his face, as if I’ve just entered a rabbit-hole I should have steered clear of. “It’s safe to say Noel and Liam didn’t have a lot to do with each other”, Cosens recalls. “Every night, they had separate after-parties”, with Cosens not confirming which one he preferred to attend. Cosens has also played and wrote songs with the Arctic Monkeys, fellow Sheffield lads. After a chance encounter on a bus in suburban Sheffield, or so the rumour goes, John McClure invited a 15 year-old Alex Turner to play with the outfit. “You could tell”, Cosens grins “Even if he was a bit rough around the edges at this point, he could write a song”. That seems an understatement given AM’s subsequent success, but did he and the Reverend think he would evolve into such an icon? “I don’t think we ever thought that!”, Cosens laughs. “But there was definitely something different about him”.
“Even if he was a bit rough around the edges at this point, he could write a song”
The Arctic Monkeys and Reverend and the Makers were not alone in cultivating a really strong Sheffield music scene in the 2000s. Following on from Sheffield’s emergence at the forefront of electronic music in the 1980s, led by acts such as “The Human League”, the Steel City again established itself as the metropolis for ‘00s indie rock and indie pop. The Long Blondes, Milburn and a number of other bands were successful in supporting Cosens
and McClure in their mission to put Sheffield on the map yet again as a musical city. Why was this? “It was just a coincidence really!”, Cosens grins. “Sheffield has always been a creative way, but in a more understated way- not like Liverpool!”. He then delves into a
fascinating analogy of how the function of Sheffield as functional city with everyone doing their bit in the factory process lends itself well to music. “In Sheffield, everyone is used to doing their creative bit”, Cosens points out, “So it just came together nicely with us and the Long Blondes etc”.
However, over the pandemic, Cosens’ musical collaborators have changed somewhat. From the Reverend and the likes of Alex Turner, the Sheffield icon’s newest musical collegue is his five year-old son. “It’s been really fun actually to see him start to mess around on the
keyboard”, Cosens smiles warmly. “I’m not trying to force music upon him, but if he wants to pursue it, I’ll be more than happy to help him!”. We both agree amiably that our opinions on teachers has sky-rocketed, as my five minute warning from Zoom pops up. I try and blag free tickets to the next Reverend and the Makers Tour, Cosens smiles suspiciously and we both leave the call. I’m back in the same mundane rainy Wednesday, but spending a bit of
time with such a successful yet humble musician has made me feel just that bit warmer.
Me: First drink at a pub after lockdown?
Ed: A punchy IPA
Me: Favourite film?
Me: Favourite Beatles?
Ed: Wow, oooh. I think overall Paul McCartney. It’s ebbed and flowed over time. George is underrated, well not underrated, but was a fantastic songwriter and made great music. But probably Paul.
Me: I did say quick fire.
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