IF EVER there was a gig to reflect the indefinable power of music as a force for positive change, then Human is Not Alone – a charity fundraiser at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus this Thursdaymight just be it.
Robbie Cooper, musician with some well-remembered underground bands and a lecturer in cognitive neuroscience at Edinburgh Napier University, brings this home as he describes how his life has changed since being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in October 2011.
“I’ve lived for almost two years in a world of appointments, treatment rooms, operating theatres and hospital wards,” says the 36-year-old, originally from Aberdeenshire.
“This is a world where things are done to you, you have to relinquish control of yourself to others and that’s hard.
“Day-to-day living is only really successfully accomplished if I can find something to engage with that allows me to forget about cancer.”
That something turned out to be a series of gigs and an accompanying downloadable compilation, conceived as fundraisers for Marie Curie Cancer Care, who Cooper says have been incredible both at helping him control his pain and deal with the psychological effects of having cancer. “I really wanted to thank the staff for everything they did for me,” he says.
“Like all charitable organisations the Marie Curie Trust is entirely dependent on donations, and I believe the best way you can thank a charity is to give it the means to continue its work.”
Appearing on a bill heavy with some of the finest and most exciting young rock bands in Scotland are Fat Goth, United Fruit, Hey Enemy and Vasquez all – chosen primarily because Cooper loves their work and because they were happy to help. All four are featured on the Human is Not Alone compilation, along with various of Cooper’s bands, including the Dundee-formed Laeto, who came together in 1998, released three albums and toured the UK with Idlewild and Snow Patrol; Bristol’s Geisha, whom Cooper drummed with for two albums from 2006 on; and his own guitar and drums instrumental duo Iron Crease.
Also appearing will be personal favourites RM Hubbert and Fugazi, the latter of whom Laeto once toured with.
“I wanted the compilation to be a bit like a mixtape of old, something I give to you that contains a bunch of songs that I want you to hear,” says Cooper.
“Music for me was always a serious hobby.
“From an early stage I knew that I didn’t want it to be a career. I wanted to make music for fun, not for money.”
• Human is Not Alone with Fat Goth, United Fruit, Hey Enemy and Vasquez is at Electric Circus, Edinburgh, on 19 September; Stereo, Glasgow, 20 September; and Non-Zeros, Dundee, 21 September. humanisnotalone.org