With new album, Fuqua student has followed unconventional path to music

Cole Heathcott, a student in the Fuqua School of Business, will release "American Love" Mar. 1 with his band Good Coffee.
Cole Heathcott, a student in the Fuqua School of Business, will release "American Love" Mar. 1 with his band Good Coffee.

Last Wednesday, Cole Heathcott, a student at the Fuqua School of Business, released a music video for one of the songs in his new album, “American Love,” which will be released Mar. 1.

Recorded at the Small Town Records studio at Duke with other members of his band, Good Coffee, Heathcott’s new album has eight songs that he wrote over the past few years, many of which are based on his experiences in college and graduate school.

Heathcott played in multiple bands throughout his undergraduate years at Colorado College. He particularly loved live performances, because he could directly see people’s reactions to his songs and interact with them, rather than performing to a computer and worrying too much about how his music sounded.

“[In college], we had a bunch of real bands playing in house shows,” he recalled.

Heathcott’s “crazy, wild, intimate and informal” performance spots ranged from a sweaty basement to a small room with 25 people, where his band played for three hours. He said he became interested in music production when several people, after hearing him play, suggested that he should record his songs.

But during his senior year, he became eager to play his own type of music and created his band, “Good Coffee” — a name that one of his roommates randomly came up with. Heathcott also spent one year driving around the country and living out of his car, because he did not want to live like other people told him to. 

“I have always thought that there is more to life than just following the standard path.” he said. “I am trying to figure that out.”

He would hike the Appalachian Trail and drive all the way from Texas to Washington, free from any obligations.

“It was cool, because it gave me flexibility to go on,” he said. “Waking up in the morning, you can do whatever you want and go wherever you want.”

Many of the songs on his new album were based on those long hours of driving and the thoughts he had during his adventure.

“[The album] is pretty dark, but it is also really good driving music,” he said. “It would be the perfect road trip companion for the American West.”

With his heavy involvement in creative music scenes on campus and unusual lifestyle, his friends never expected that Heathcott would end up going to a business school. He wanted to experience intellectual growth through self-awareness and creative learning, but Fuqua was different from what he expected.

“[Fuqua] would rather have us be good employees than be happy individuals who pursue their passion,” he said. “It is training us to help rich corporations be richer.”

He felt out of place at the business school, but he eventually learned to make the best of his years at the school, especially through his music, which gave him an outlet for creative experimentation. Originally rejected by a producer at Freewater Productions, Heathcott contacted another music director, Sean Breitkreutz, at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, to film a music video. The video, which is based on one of the songs in his new album, “Knife,” features surrealistic scenes — like a man destroying and burning framed pictures —  and conveys Heathcott’s attitude toward his business school experience.

“The point of the video is that you can find yourself in weird situations where you feel like you do not belong, but you can still laugh at everything at the end of the day,” he said.

Although Duke was not what Heathcott expected it to be, he said there is some room for change, and he wants the Duke community to discover different types of music.

“What I want the Duke community to know is that we are a fun live band,” he said. “We want to play at your house to see you at your worst and at your best. We want to be there with you.”

However, Heathcott doesn’t want his music to be all about promoting himself and gaining more recognition — unlike other bands, Good Coffee does not have any social media pages.

“I feel like a lot of artists are self-indulgent, especially in the social media age,” he said. “I want people to see my music for what it is before they see me.”

And, while he does not have a definite plan after graduating from the business school, Heathcott wants to continue his career as a musician in Durham.  

“I hope to keep playing and recording songs forever, because I like it,” he said. “I am not sure what will happen next. I will have a good degree, at least.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Heathcott was rejected by Small Town Records, not Freewater Productions. The Chronicle regrets the error.


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