Cosmic Funk and the Gods of Rock and Roll
Perhaps one could call it Destiny, but there is little doubt that there was a much better venue for a young Karl Cochran's launch to the discovery of his true calling. His passion and natural talent for music, and especially the guitar, were so well nourished by circumstances, timing, and exposure that one would almost suspect the whole show was carefully orchestrated from the beginning by the gods of rock and roll themselves.
The fates conspired to place Karl on this planet smack dab in the middle of Plainfield, New Jersey during the golden age of funk, as the son of a long time DJ who kept a collection of records numbering in the thousands. Legendary musicians from all sides of funk, jazz, blues and rock lived in his back yard. The seeds that were sewn during the endless hours listening to records in his father's music library were then nourished by exposure to such neighborhood greats as Parliament Funkadelic, Uptown Horns, Stanley Jordan, Kool and the Gang, George Clinton. Rock and roll poured from the house across the street, a siren song of Hendrix, Santana, the Beatles. A close family friend dated a member of RamJam (of "Black Betty" fame), and this same family took Karl to Madison Square Garden to experience his first KISS concert in 1974. The stage was set, the characters were in place and when Karl was thirteen years old, along came Harry Leahey.
At the age of thirteen, Karl began his studies with legendary jazz guitarist Harry Leahey, who recognized Karl's talent and pushed him to the limits on technique, style and method while at the same time providing invaluable guidance and a shining example of work ethic and dedication to his craft. Not only did Harry instruct and inspire Karl musically, he also "taught me how to be a professional" says Karl, and "how to be a good person", setting the philosophical groundwork for Karl's approach to all his future endeavors in life and career.
The lessons with Harry Leahey were the key to unlocking the door to Karl's future as an accomplished guitarist, and eventually led Karl to a successful music career that spans more than two thirds of his lifetime.
Off to Work
Karl Cochran has been a professional musician since the age of fourteen. As a highly accomplished guitarist, bassist, songwriter, producer and engineer, Karl has collaborated, toured, recorded and worked with many of the world's most talented and well-known musicians. Over the years, through Karl's relationships with high caliber musicians, he gained a broad appreciation for all styles of music, which in turn enabled him to bring a more open-minded, well-rounded and knowledgeable approach to his songwriting and his playing. He has worked alongside such musical greats as Joe Lynn Turner (Deep Purple, Rainbow) Corky Lang (Mountain), Felix Pappalardi (Cream), jazz great Ricky Sebastian, Eric Singer (Black Sabbath, Brian May of Queen), Bob Daisley (Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Ozzy Osborne) Matt Abbs (Government Mule), legendary engineer Dave Whitman, and many more.
While Karl lived a whirlwind year in Los Angeles during 1992-1993, he met Joe Lynn Turner while working with Ron Young (Little Caesar) and Gary Corbett, who was Joe Lynn Turner's keyboardist at the time. Gary asked Karl to join Joe Lynn Turner's band and Karl jumped at the opportunity to work alongside a fantastic rock and roll performer with Joe Lynn Turner, and return to his east coast homeland turf. This began a longtime association with Joe Lynn Turner, and Karl subsequently has contributed to several of Joe Lynn Turner's solo projects over the next several years, including four tracks on his 2005 release "The Usual Suspects".
Karl's association with Ace Frehley (KISS) came about in 1994 via mutual friends drummer Steve Werner and Richie Scarlett. Steve Werner repeatedly encouraged Karl to audition as a bass player for the Ace Frehley band, and Karl repeatedly refused, emphasizing that he was a guitar player, not a bassist. Steve insisted, and eventually Karl gave in, borrowed a bass guitar from pal Jeff Mott, and was the last player to audition. And thus began Karl's foray into the Land of KISS, which involved extensive touring with the Ace Frehley band, starting off with a grueling two year stint from 1994-1996 on the Bad Boys tour. Karl has collaborated and written songs with Ace Frehley, including "Into the Void" which was included on the platinum-selling KISS "Psycho Circus" album, as well as many of their following compilation cd’s and box sets. Karl played guitar and sang on the Ace Frehley Tribute album “Return of the Comet” on the songs “Strange Ways” and “Love Her All I Can” along with Eric Singer of KISS. Later, Karl toured with Eric Singer's band ESP (Eric Singer Project), alongside Bruce Kulick (KISS) and John Corabi (Union, Motley Crue) during the late 1990’s. Karl also played on the ESP release entitled “Lost and Spaced”, which featured classic rock cover songs. The ESP tour included a tour of Australia in December 1998.
By the end of 1994, Karl was living the hardcore musician's dream come true, voraciously working on stage and in the studio, simultaneously touring on the road as a guitarist with Joe Lynn Turner and switching to the bass to play with the Ace Frehley band.
Return to Voodooland
While he was still living and working in L.A., Karl formed a band, Dirt, with Ron Young (Little Caesar) and Gary Corbett, and Tommy "T-Bone" Caradona on bass. They also worked with Eric Singer, who played drums for record company showcases during that time. The idea of Voodooland actually began here early in 1993, and it was during this time that early versions of "Breaking Away" and "Don't Say That You Love Me" (originally titled "Tongue in Cheek") were written. The Voodooland project was put on hold when Eric Singer rejoined KISS on tour. Karl then hitched his wagon to the Joe Lynn Turner and Ace Frehley tours throughout the mid nineties. It wasn't until 1996 that Karl decided to revive Voodooland, and after his stint with ESP ended in 1997, he began serious work on writing and recording the songs which became the Voodooland seven track EP, released in 1999.
Voodooland released their CD called "Give Me Air" in 2004, which is a full-length record featuring fifteen original Karl Cochran tracks. Several noted performers appear on the credits for this record, all of whom have formed close friendships and working partnerships with Karl over the years of his career. Voodooland toured Japan in November 2004 and were very well received by the fans there. See the Music pages for all the details.
Far Cry - Never Far from Home
Meanwhile, ever the musical multi-tasker, Karl had also put together a local cover band, Far Cry, in the summer of 1986. Far Cry has had many members over the years who include such alumni as singer Robert Mason (Lynch Mob), Joey Z (Prophet) and Jimmy Callahan (Prophet). He has kept Far Cry alive and active, still booking regular gigs on the club and bar circuit throughout the greater New Jersey/New York area to this day. It may seem surprising to some that a successful and accomplished musician who has a stellar solo career with his own original band (Voodooland), a proven guitarist and songwriter who has recorded albums and toured with such names as Joe Lynn Turner and written songs with the guys from KISS, would continue to participate in a local cover band. But, Karl says he does so purely for the love of music. Far Cry continues to flourish, and for Karl, remaining involved with Far Cry is what "keeps me close to my roots, and gives me a chance to keep playing the songs that I love" he says. "It's not about fame, and it's not about being a 'rockstar' for me. It's about making a living and playing music that I love, and that makes me happy. I just love to play."