They were frequently classified as industrial rock, but were often quite different from many bands so dubbed. Tod A.'s lyrics were clever, snide and evocative (Art Black and David Sprague suggest that "Black humor beats black metal any day" ) and their "weirdly catchy" music drew "on hot jazz and swing as much as clanging rock, emphasizing the group's stand-apart attitude."
The group had little mainstream success (scoring a few hits on college radio), despite tours with Iggy Pop and music videos on MTV's Headbanger's Ball and 120 Minutes (notably for "$10 Bill", featuring a number of little people). They retain a cult following, however, and their out-of-print releases sometimes sell for large amounts among fans.
Puleo reports their name was inspired by both the band members' shared dislike of police officers, and a newspaper headline about a botched police raid, reading "'Cop Shot Cop' or maybe it was 'Cop Shoots Cop.'" Another possible explanation for the band's moniker is what is described as a "junkie's to do list:" "cop" (obtain drugs, especially heroin) "shoot" (Inject the drugs)" and "cop" again.
The trio placed a number of posters stating only "CopShootCop" around New York, which helped generate discussion and interest; some observers reportedly thought the posters were a political protest against police brutality.
Their first performance was with Half Japanese.
The trio added Jack Natz (formerly bassist in early New York Hardcore band The Undead) on electric bass and Tod briefly sang without playing bass. They missed Tod's distinctive "high end" bass playing, however, and they realized only popular convention required a single bass player in a rock band, and both Tod and Natz decided to play the instrument with the group. The relative novelty of a dual-bass, no-guitar rock group certainly helped gather attention. Natz sang occasionally, and various members wrote songs, but Tod remained the group's primary singer and songwriter.
Ouimet rejoined and left the group several times; Jim Coleman was recruited to replace him on sampler, and both men were in the group for their debut recording, the "Piece Man" 7" in 1989. The single's cover was spattered with real pig's blood, gaining them some notoriety in record collecting circles. Their first full length,Consumer Revolt -recorded by notable producer Martin Bisi, is probably the only dual-bass, dual-sampler, no-guitar album in rock music's history. The band quickly earned a reputation as one of the best live bands in NYC, as well as for prolific band graffiti.
After the first album and tour, Ouimet left for good: he founded the intriguing, short-lived Motherhead Bug and would later guest with Cop Shoot Cop, playing trombone or leading the "Motherhead Horns" horn section.
Cop Shoot Cop continued recording and touring; they surprised some fans by recruiting guitarist Steve McMillen for Release, released by Interscope Records. Ned Raggett argues that McMillen's appearance "Given how Cop Shoot Cop had evolved its own unique sound out of the basses, drums, and samplers from the original members, becoming more of a straight-ahead rock group inevitably made the band a little less special." (Still, he offers a largely positive review). A different review notes that "Tod A. is the Andrew Vachss of underground rock, telling stories of pathetic losers and maniac outsiders who believe they are the sane ones", while Black and Sprague note that Release finds Cop Shoot Cop "sneaking surreptitiously toward the mainstream."
The band dissolved a year or so after Release. Tod claimed the group had been treated poorly by Interscope, and refused to allow the company to issue their final album. The other band members disagreed, noting the album was very nearly complete, and that they had all worked on the $150,000 recording sessions. The remaining members of Cop Shoot Cop attempted to complete the album, but Interscope declined to release the material. It eventually found an outlet in the Red Expendables album.
On their 1997 album City, Strapping Young Lad covered "Room 429" (originally from CSC's Ask Questions Later.)
A later addition to the group, Michael Kaminski joined as lead guitarist, touring in Europe until the band's 1996 breakup. He continued to play music in Europe, eventually returning to his hometown of Akron, Ohio. A minor arrest there landed him in the news, and in the headlines of music blogs everywhere.
|1991||White Noise||Big Cat|
|1993||Ask Questions Later||Interscope|
|1989||Headkick Facsimile||Supernatural Organization||12″||Rereleased in 1994 on cassette with a song from the Piece Man 7″|
|1989||Piece Man||Vertical||7″||Cover spattered with pig's blood|
|1989||Live at CBGB||Cassette||300 copies, Japanese release|
|1992||7″||Bootleg split with Helmet|
|1996||Dick Smoker Plus||Fused Coil||7″, CD||Split with Meathead|
|1994||"Two at a Time"||Big Cat||CD|
|1995||"Any Day Now"||Big Cat||CD|
|1995||Johnny Mnemonic (Motion Picture Soundtrack)||"3 AM Incident"||Columbia||CD|
|1990||New York Eye & Ear Control||"Dive"||Matador||CD|