Mike “Coop” Cooper has always loved the band Journey.
As a kid in Dallas, he would sit on the floor with a pair of headphones on and one of their albums playing and do his best to work through the various chords of a song. He developed a sheer love for the music, the lyrics, the harmonies, and the instrumentation.
This love of music led him to a couple of garage bands and eventually, in 2012, to form Infinite Journey, a popular local Journey tribute band. It’s a journey that brought him to the historic stage at the Whiskey GoGo on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood, via Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban’s Access TV show “The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands.”
“We’ve always striven to do the best we can,” Cooper told Local Profile in early August as part of the Local Leaders series on Facebook Live. “We never say that we sound like Journey or that we are better than Journey. … We really concentrate on trying to capture the sound of the band.”
When he is not capturing the band’s sound on stage, Cooper is baking custom life-sized guitar cakes for the likes of Ace Frehley of KISS, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Warrant, and Blue October as well as Dallas’ own Drowning Pool.
The first cake he baked was Eddie Van Halen’s “famous freakin’ strat guitar.” It was about four feet long. People were on fire when they saw it and started complimenting his cake craft. Cooper recalled thinking, Hmm, I wonder if I could do this as kind of a gift to the bands and guitarists that have influenced me.
But he didn’t do it for the money.
“I just did it because I wanted to do it,” he said. “I would ask for a picture with me and the guitarist or the band, and they could have the cake. They could throw it in the trash for all I cared. I just wanted to picture, and I've been fortunate enough to do some guitar cakes for some very famous guitarists and bands.”
When he is not baking for famous guitarists and bands, he’s opening for them on stage. The bassist/vocalist is joined by his bandmates Donovan Duke (vocals), Paul Bullock (guitar/vocals), John Arnett (drums/vocals), and Bill Cuffey (keyboards/vocals). The last show they played was opening for Night Ranger in November 2019.
“I've been a huge Night Ranger fan,” Cooper said. “As a kid, I used to have their posters on my wall. So for me to open for the band that I've loved all my life and then to make a guitar cake for them. It was like the best of both worlds. I mean, it was, it was amazing.”
Local Leaders by Local Profile is an ongoing video series featuring incredible local leaders sharing their best leadership insights. Going beyond business, Local Leaders aims to inspire and motivate you to become the best version of yourself. It broadcasts LIVE via the Local Profile Facebook page (click here.)