"Always the businessman in the group, Michael seemed to be the only one with five dollars in his pocket. Money that would be used for copying show handbills on the nearest Xerox machine. He still has a large collection of the band's old show handbills that he designed." Those are the words of Nick Cooper, who in a September 2003 phone interview with Beastiemania.com shared some of his memories of managing both the Young and the Useless and the Beastie Boys during their New York Hardcore days. Nick's role was to get both groups gigs, with provided them with needed exposure and on-stage experience. It also provided Mike D a reason to continue designing show posters.
Nick Cooper is the son of New York art gallery owner Paula Cooper and Neil Cooper. If Neil's name sounds familiar it is probably due to the fact that he started the ROIR record label, which went on to release the Bad Brains best known work. ROIR also put out the infamous NY Thrash Compilation album, which features the Beastie Boys. Nick set out on his own though and began promoting punk shows. For Nick it went further than just making show arrangements, as he would always travel with the Young and the Useless. He also was actively trying to get the Beastie Boys signed to a major label. Nick recalled meeting with Patti Smith's manager to listen to and discuss the Beastie Boys most current demo tape. This tape featured the more new wave and less punk sounding material that later was condensed into the Cooky Puss 12" as well as a little surprise from Mike D.
"As a joke Michael Diamond added a song, "The Abyss" by the band Sex Gang Children to the very end of their demo tape. So here I am sitting across from Patti Smith's manager and "The Abyss" starts playing and I have to explain why the rest of the demo tape sounds like a different band than the Sex Gang Children. It made me look totally unprofessional and I felt like an idiot, but Michael found it funny. I guess I should have listened to the entire tape before I began taking it around. I remember thinking, 'What the fuck. You can't do stuff like that.'"
As the Beastie Boys began their transition from hardcore to hip hop, Nick Cooper began to book the band at bigger and better venues. He even booked the Beastie Boys at New York's notorious Studio 54. "That night the Beastie Boys had a case of Heineken beer and no bottle opener. So Michael went around trying to find someone with an opener. This just drew attention to the fact that under-age kids were drinking beer. Normally this would not have been a big deal. However, Studio 54 had been involved in so much trouble in the past that by this point their bouncers had been encouraged to toss out anyone that could potentially cause a scene. Michael did just that. Once on stage, Michael took the microphone and in a fake British accent began to insult the club's new management. As soon as their set was over, they were ejected from Studio 54. I remember the bouncers literally throwing David Scilken, who was backstage that night, out into the street."
Shortly thereafter Nick took a short vacation to Greece with his girlfriend. When he returned to New York, he found out that the Beastie Boys had signed with Def Jam and were under new management. "I remember walking into Danceteria and seeing Rick Rubin. Rick approached me and said Nick Cooper, Beastie Boys former manager, meet Russell Simmons, the Beastie Boys new manager." As you can imagine Nick Cooper was a caught off guard, after all he had been the one who originally contracted Rick Rubin to be the Beastie Boys' DJ. The next day he ended up calling Adam Horovitz to find out what all had transpired while he was out of the country. Following that fork in the road, life took Nick and Beastie Boys in different directions, although eventually they all ended up in California. It was not until the funeral following the death of David Scilken in 1991, that Nick Cooper would be reunited with his old friends from New York's hardcore days.
Having recently returned back to New York after spending a few years living in New Mexico, Nick Cooper harbors no ill feelings about the Beastie Boys and has many great memories about them. In fact, thanks to him, we at Beastiemania.com will now be able to piece together more information on the early days of both the Young and the Useless as well as the Beastie Boys. For example, without his input we would still be singing the wrong lyrics to many of the songs on the Real Men Don't Floss E.P.