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The Loyal Order
The Loyal Order

Behind the Axe: The Loyal Order's Brandon Cook / Q&A

By ANA AMMANN // Portland rockers, The Loyal Order, have been climbing the charts with songs from their self-titled, debut album since last summer. Get to know Brandon Cook, the man behind the axe, as the band debuts their latest video.

It’s been a meteoric rise for Portland-based rockers, The Loyal Order, since the release of their self-titled, debut album last July.  Their first single, “Ready for Dead” rose to #22 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Indicator chart, and videos for this song, as well as their song “Hellfire,” have each surpassed one million views.  Their latest single, “Fuck or Fight” is the most recent to break into the Top 30 of the same Billboard chart. 

The band began as a songwriting partnership between veteran rockers Jeff Buehner (vocals) and Brandon Cook (guitars), but soon grew to include Justin Gibson (guitar), Kyle Baltus (drums). 

Cook is a hard-working musician, known locally and recognized nationally for contributions to several bands.  The list includes: Appetite for Deception (a Guns & Roses tribute band); his original metal band State of Balance; guitarist for 80’s hard rock band Black n’ Blue; and now, founding member of The Loyal Order.

Get to know the man behind the axe in our Q&A.

Brandon, you’re originally from Boyds, Maryland, outside the beltway in Washington DC area. What brought you to Portland and why did you choose to stay? 

My dad got a transfer up here working with Safeway. He moved us into Lake Oswego, when buying a home there was still something middle class families could do.  I started college at Clackamas Community College and finished at Portland State University working with the music luminaries they had there, like Charley Grey, Darrell Grant and Jerry Hahn.  I got married and had a child over the next couple years and just kept finding amazing people up here in Portland to keep doing work with. My daughter lives here so I choose to stick around for her.

You’ve been in several tribute bands performing iconic songs, and have shared the stage with some legendary musicians. Do you have a favorite moment either performing AS a legend or performing WITH a legend? 

One of my fave moments acting as Slash: Appetite was playing in Sturgis, South Dakota at the motorcycle rally. It was my biggest show at the time. 1,500 people worried about the lightning that was looming in the distance, and the sound guy was screaming at us from the sound booth saying, “You better not screw up my gear!” So, as dumb as we were, we started playing in a lightning storm, and as we were finishing up “Night Train”, a streak of lightning went across that big, giant sky from one side to the other, right in front of us. It was probably 10 miles away, but it might as well have been on stage with us.  Our energy exploded after that.  

A favorite moment performing with legends: I had the opportunity to sit in with the Marty Friedman Band, live at the Aladdin Theater in Portland, Oregon.  My daughter was in attendance with me and she got to see dad shred on stage with Marty Friedman (Megadeth) and his side guitarist, Jordan Ziff (RATT).  Both amazing world class musicians.  One of many amazing moments in my career and it was on stage with my number one guitar hero. 

In The Loyal Order, you’ve teamed up with long-time friend and songwriting partner Jeff Buehner, what does your songwriting process look like? 

We usually sit down with both of us having initial sparks of ideas for songs.  We’re both always coming up with songs over and over again.  I’m very lucky that my cup overflows with musical ideas.  Jeff is the same.  We begin working with the “What if you did this?” mentality.  I saw an interview with Joan Rivers and she was talking about creative process.  “Don’t say ‘no’ to people, it stops the creative flow,” she said.  I took that to heart and as I began implementing that in my creativity, I ran that by Jeff. He loved it. We tend to work that way.  The word NO comes up, but very rarely.  It’s hard enough to create, if there’s stop signs everywhere, it can really break your spirit.

What’s your guitar setup? 

  • 2014 Gibson VOS 1959 Les Paul
  • 2014 GJ 2 Glendora “spirit of 79 relic”
  • 2015 GJ2 Glendora Custom Shop-Black
  • 2005 Tacoma DR14C Acoustic
  • Marshall JCM Slash
  • Fulltone OCD distortion
  • Boss DD-3 Digital Delay
  • MXR 10 band EQ/Boost
  • Ernie Ball Classic Wah
  • Digitech Whammy pedal

Since touring is unlikely to resume this year, do you have plans to keep writing new music? 

I’ve been continuing to create music with Jeff throughout the pandemic. Of course, I’m always writing and doing studio work for other people. I’m co-writing an album with Sarah Moon, an amazing singer/songwriter here in Portland, and I’m also co-writing a spoken word poetry album with Llewellyn Gannon Munzing.  I also write music for myself and am tweaking some arrangements for my own songs and online projects that I’ve been putting together. The music is hard, so it’s got to be right.  Taking a little extra time to really prep super high level.  The competition for online recordings is intense because all the world’s greatest musicians are putting amazing things out like it’s nothing, and we have to compete with that.  So, it’s coming, albeit slightly later.

If you could pick one guitar legend, dead or alive, to perform with, who would it be? 

James Hetfield (Metallica) (or Dave Mustaine (Metallica, Megadeth) or Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters). James is such a badass and he has an amazing sense of melody and workmanship.  It wouldn’t be Metallica though; it would be a new project where I get to write songs with him.

What’s coming next for you and The Loyal Order?

The Loyal Order is working diligently on the next phase, that includes a follow up record and building our online presence on YouTube.  For me, Black ‘N Blue will be performing at “Operation Monster Beach” with the Monsters of Rock Cruise organization and the KISS cruise. 

Stream The Loyal Order on all major platforms and follow them on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.


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