Band of brothers revive psychedelic rock

Image of Drew and Luke looking at the camera standing next to one another.
Duo Drew and Luke, consisting of Thornton senior Drew Cooper and younger brother Luke Cooper, have progressed from singing in the backseat to a fully fledged rock band, playing various shows around L.A. (Photo courtesy of Drew & Luke)

Psychedelic rock duo Drew & Luke are not only bandmates boasting an electric combination of guitar and harmonica — they’re also brothers. In some cases, growing up with a younger brother means constant tussling and endless fighting in the backseat, but that wasn’t the case for Drew Cooper, a senior majoring in music industry. 

Hailing from Philadelphia, Drew and his younger brother Luke, a student at Santa Monica College, have been producing music in various genres for years. Their latest musical adventure has been performing as a psychedelic rock band, inspired by the classic rock scene of the late ’60s and early ’70s. From sound to style, the duo seems to have it down.

However, finding their way to the stages of hip music bars in downtown Los Angeles was not a straight nor easy path. It took many years of instrumental practice, experimentation with genre cultures and practice in audience engagement for the Cooper brothers to get to where they are now. First, of course, they needed the spark of inspiration. 

This spark came when the brothers were young, strapped into the backseat of their mother’s car during road trips. It was here, with the music that their mom played from the car stereo, that they began to develop a love for rock. 

“She’d play a bunch of old music — Grateful Dead, the Stones, that sort of thing — and quiz us on who was singing each song. I was never very good at it,” Luke said. “But she used those long car rides with a captive audience to teach us about good music.”

Not long after, Drew and Luke began to dabble in creating music themselves, though their early creations differed greatly from what they had heard on those long car rides. Instead, they poured their creativity into the production of electronic dance music, naming themselves “CPR,” their last name with vowels omitted. 

Benji Bacharach, a senior majoring in psychology, recalls being roommates with Drew during their freshman year at USC and seeing the dedication with which Drew and Luke collaborated on their music. From hearing the brothers speak constantly about their projects over the phone and experiencing many of their live EDM performances, Bacharach picked up on the dynamic shared between the duo. 

“Luke has always been really good with the … creation of different music. He would just be like, ‘I can make you a cool song in five minutes, just give me a sec,’” Bacharach said. “Drew was always really good at DJing and being able to get a crowd moving … Everyone loved their sound and listening to them.”

Amid the pandemic, however, with the inability to perform live shows, the duo took the opportunity to test out a different style. Going back to the music that had inspired them, Drew and Luke began creating music that was more in line with what their mom had first taught them to love all those years ago. 

“We kind of circled back to the music of our mom’s teachings,” Drew said. “We just went for a deep dive and landed on blues and ’60s rock and roll … We picked up the guitar, started singing a little bit, and that’s how it started.” 

As both their image and music style evolved, the brothers decided to swap the name CPR for a more straightforward title: the name “Drew & Luke.”

“We wanted something that was … very authentically our roots and who we are. What better than to just be our names? Nothing hiding behind there,” Drew said. 

After honing their instrumentation skills and deciding to the most specific degree what kind of music they wanted to play, Drew & Luke are now fully leaning into their identity as a psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll duo.

The evolution of their music has proved to be a successful endeavor, as the two have been performing their latest music for live audiences in venues across L.A., from a night at The Hotel Cafe to their three-week residency at Harvard and Stone. Accompanying them on stage are friends and bandmates Blake Stamato, Nick Springer and Nick Imig — all students at USC.

Friends of the band, though surprised by the stark difference between the music of Drew & Luke and that of CPR, are greatly impressed by the dedication with which Drew and Luke committed to their evolution as musicians. The bluesy, late ’60s-inspired rock that they play is full of energy, and the duo’s electrifying stage presence only adds fuel to the fire, from Drew’s solos on the electric to Luke jumping off stage and dancing with the crowd.

“I like their music a lot now. I feel like it brings a lot of energy to it. It’s fun to dance to, too,” said Bacharach, who is still a roommate to Drew and Luke four years later. “I love going to them and supporting them. It’s starting to become like a little community … You’ll see a lot of familiar faces there.”

In the process of refining their new style, the brothers’ dynamic as bandmates, which Bacharach observed in their EDM-producing days, continued to strengthen, as each of them has further defined and embraced their role within the band. 

“Luke is the band leader as the lead singer … He really has the main vision musically. Being his older brother, I’d say I’m the bandleader in life. So I like to boss him around otherwise,” said Drew jokingly.

Though Luke handles the arranging and producing and is the one getting the band together for rehearsals, Drew takes the lead on the business side of things, contacting venues and arranging times and places for the band to perform. 

“It ends up being a good dynamic,” Luke said. “We wouldn’t be playing without the gigs.”

With each handling a side of the helm, the duo forges into March and April with exciting gigs lined up in old and new venues. Though their community of loyal listeners continues to show up and dance, the duo hopes that more lovers of music will come out to experience what they’ve created, not heeding any labels or genre constrictions, but simply to enjoy the music. 

“We take lots of inspiration from the music of the late ’60s … But I don’t care what you call it,” Luke said. “If you like what we’re playing, then you like it. You like to come experience it with us … I want to get you in the door because maybe I can put you onto something.” 

From electronic dance music to classic rock and from Philly to L.A., it all comes back to a team of two brothers who are driven to create and perform, guaranteed to get your feet moving.

Information on Drew & Luke’s tour dates and locations can be found on the duo’s website.