Mesozoic Creatures Fuel Denver Songwriter Ian Cooke’s New Album

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<p>(Courtesy of&nbsp;Heather Reynolds)</p>
<p>Ian Cooke (far left) and his band mates (from left to right): percussionist Sean Merrell, bassist Whit Sibley and guitarist Ian O&#039;Dougherty. Painting by Heather Reynolds.</p>

Ian Cooke became obsessed with dinosaurs as a child. That's not unusual, but the songwriter/musician's new album is. It's all about dinosaurs and the animals of the Mesozoic Era. There's a song dedicated to the Tyrannosaurus rex and another to the stegosaurus, but it's not a children's album.

"Antiquasauria" drops later this summer, but Cooke and his band will play a handful of the new songs with the Colorado Symphony at Denver's Boettcher Concert Hall Thursday.

Cooke spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.

Cooke on his passion for dinosaurs

"I had the thought of doing an album exclusively about pterosaurs because of all the Mesozoic animals, I found them the most interesting. ... Pterosaurs were flying reptile animals that lived during the same time as the dinosaurs, but a completely different family. ... I thought it was maybe too specific of a subject and I should broaden it to appeal to as many people as possible. So I thought including a big chunk of Mesozoic animals would be smarter."

On his discoveries while researching for the album

"I learned a lot looking up all of the up-to-date theories about how these animals lived, carried themselves and traveled. ... The [Tyrannosaurus rex] song is about a specific specimen, and it's the largest, most-complete skeleton that has been found. There are a lot of stories in the bones, in the damage that's been done. And there are all these clues about what kind of injuries she had -- or he. They named it Sue after the paleontologist who found [the bones]."

On performing these Mesozoic-inspired songs with the Colorado Symphony

"I'm just going to be focusing on trying to keep it together emotionally. ... There are the nerves -- you have to play everything perfect and remember all of the words, and there's a lot of pressure with that. So there's wanting to play and concentrate, but at the same time, listen to these beautiful arrangements that Tom [Hagerman of DeVotchKa wrote.]"

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