A Moment with the Artist: Elvis Depressedly

Mathew Lee Cothran has been writing and releasing music for almost a decade as Coma Cinema, but he’s about to embark on a brief tour with his band Elvis Depressedly to preface the release of their upcoming album, New Alhambra. Shortly before the start of this tour, I caught up with Cothran to talk about moving across states, touring, and his mindset looking forward.

Joey Bautista: You’re about to spend a good part of December touring the Northeast and Midwest (including a few shows in Canada) with Told Slant. The last couple of months have been pretty hectic with your move from Columbia to Asheville. Now that you seem to have settled in, how would you compare your pre-tour sentiments to those of your cross-country tour with Alex G this past summer?

Mat Cothran: Hectic is a good way to put it for sure. Delaney and I hated Columbia and South Carolina in general. It’s where we grew up, but the state’s anti-art mentality challenged us forever and we just got sick of it. It was wearing us down and we had enough, so we moved to North Carolina which isn’t that far away, but it’s a different world out here. We love it so much and we’re excited to be a part of the art scene here because there are so many talented, hungry people.

Our tour with Alex G was fucking awesome because Delaney and I are big fans of Alex’s music and have been repping him for so long now, and just seeing people respond to his music was phenomenal. We’re also big into Told Slant, so we’re looking forward to this tour in a similar fashion. We live to turn people on to cool art and we’ve always wanted that to be our focus no matter what, be it our music or our friends’ music.

I can be kind of a dick and kind of negative about touring because there is so much work involved that I feel sometimes takes away from what I’m best at (recording albums), so I usually go into the shit with a negative attitude, but that fades away pretty quickly. I’m excited to see Told Slant play and to share them with an audience that might not be familiar. Everyone involved in that band is hard working and kind as fuck and deserves every shot they can get.

Delaney is the brains behind our operation and she always gets me motivated before touring, but sometimes I’m very hesitant and uncertain about going out on the road. So much can go wrong, but I try to keep in mind how wild and crazy it is that we show up in cities we’ve never been to, and people are out there and excited to see us play. That shit definitely keeps me going and means so much to me. It’s a weird life, but I don’t know what else I’d be doing.

Mathew Lee Cothran and Delaney Mills (photo by Sam Ray)

Mat Cothran and Delaney Mills (photo by Sam Ray)

JBIt’s really uplifting whenever you speak so fondly about your peers and listeners. One show on your upcoming tour that’s been getting a lot of attention is the one at The Cave in Toronto which is listed as 19+. You’re a very vocal advocate of all-ages shows, and you’ve said that you’re willing to play an early show outside the venue if that’s what it takes. It’s reassuring to hear you say that, because 21+ shows have kept me from seeing several of my favorite artists here in San Diego. What’s your opinion on age-restricted shows/venues?

MC: I get why venues do age-restricted shows to an extent. I understand that the venues we typically play are between 150-500 capacity and you want to get as many money spending (drinking) motherfuckers in there as you can, but our audience is the youth and we want to be a positive and cool thing for kids to come out and see. So there is sometimes a dispute between venues and us about what kind of audience we’re bringing in.

What needs to happen is there to be more youth oriented spots. Why the fuck do bands always have to play in bars? I mean, I’m a drinker and I’m a grown man, but I have no shame in playing a straight edge spot if people are going to be there and be excited about our art. The world needs more accepting spaces in general. Every space should be a safe space. I think venues miss the fucking cue when they deny the youth a show. I mean fuck, if you have to charge a buck for a Coke or something, do it. I’ll tell anyone to their face I have a drinking problem, but I’m willing to put all that shit aside if we’re playing a space that is anti-drinking and open to the youth.

What I care about most is the art, and what I care about almost as much is our listeners, and a lot of them are young and I’m grateful for that. So whatever I have to do to give these kids a show, I’m going to fucking do. If the venue says they can’t have these kids who have supported me and paid my bills by buying t-shirts and records, then fuck that, I’m going to do a show outside because I care more about our listeners than I do some building with a sound system.

Elvis Depressedly @ The Dial in Murrieta, CA (8/1/2014)

Elvis Depressedly @ The Dial in Murrieta, CA (photo by Anthony Vincent)

Toronto might be a little weird and we’re still working with our booker (who is fucking great by the way, a true blue motherfucker) to try and get around this 19+ bullshit. We’re going to do what’s best for our listeners because at the end of the day, these people are supporting the hell out of us and we give a shit about that. We’re not going to ignore them because of a venue or a law or some other shit. We’re making art and art is for everybody, not just people who are old enough to drink.

JB: This is going to be your last tour before the release of the new Elvis Depressedly album, New Alhambra. It was originally slated to be out this month, but you’ve pushed it back to early next year for a wider, more opportune release. I can speak for the rest of your listeners when I say I couldn’t be more excited for what you have in store. You’ve said multiple times that this is the best work you’ve done to date–do you feel anxious sitting on this for so long?

MC: I do, because I know it’s our best work ever, and as lame as it sounds, I’m a little worried as to what our listeners will think. While Delaney was responsible for a lot of the music, I was responsible for a lot of the lyrical shit. I’m not sure if people who got into us via Holo Pleasures will fuck with it, but I can’t really let that get to us because I know in my heart this is the greatest thing I’ve ever been a part of. The songs are the best I’ve written, the best Delaney has arranged, and then we had the best bass player in the world Mike Roberts and the best cello player in the world Amy Cuthbertson on this album. I’m so happy with it, and it makes me sick that I have to wait to let people hear it, but there’s still some fear in there that I might let people down and that’s just something I gotta deal with.

We have such an intense relationship with our listeners that sometimes it can be too much and I don’t know who I’m writing for, but on this album I put everything aside and wrote nine songs that I feel truly define who I am. Delaney came in and orchestrated them perfectly because she’s a fucking music genius, and Mike Roberts, our good friend and touring bassist, came in and made the songs real and purposeful.

It’s scary to go from a record like Holo Pleasures that I kind of orchestrated purposefully to be hip and funny to something that is deeply personal to me and bares all without hesitation. At this point, I’ve been at this shit for nearly ten years and I felt like the time was right to make what I thought was the best album I could make. I didn’t hold back, so it’s scary to be that out there and know people are gonna hear it and judge it based on what I’ve done before.

But I think people will vibe with it and understand where we’re coming from. I’m so proud of this record and of the stuff we’re doing right now.


Elvis Depressedly will be on tour with Told Slant this December, more info on it here.
New Alhambra will be released in Spring 2015 by Run For Cover Records.

Sounds of State-Joey Bautista and Bridget Rickman

Hello everybody. I’m Cameron Satterlee and I’m introducing a new series for the KCR blog. You might remember my series from last semester called The Goldmine, in which I profiled a classic rock album every week. For this and hopefully next semester I’ll be going into a different direction. My new series is called Sounds of State and I’ll be interviewing our amazing DJ’s here at KCR College Radio. I was aiming for 5 minutes but likely they’ll go longer than that. I’ll be posting a slightly edited transcript, removing the pauses, and the “likes” and “ums” that we all have. But otherwise I’ll maintain the interview as recorded so as to not alter the message and cadence of those speaking. That means that it’s not very grammatically correct, but you’re reading this on the internet so you should be used to this. Without further ado, here is Sounds of State!

Last Thursday I went to the KCR Turn Up event at the Farmer’s Market to meet up with Joey Bautista and Bridget Rickman and take up my first interview for Sounds of State. It was a fantastic fall day in San Diego so of course I was sweating through my black Giants t-shirt. Our featured artist at the Turn Up was D. Focis, a rapper out of Detroit spitting his game and talking about how us college students should take advantage of our opportunities and get an education in between songs. Joey came up early to meet me so we chatted for a bit while waiting for Bridget to arrive. I was scribbling furiously in the shade because I didn’t have my questions formulated for my first interview. Joey seemed content to listen to the music on the steps facing D. Focis. He wandered off to grab some food, Pad Thai by my reckoning, at the Farmers Market and ate it while enjoying the music and the day.

Bridget showed up about ten minutes before the hour with her cousin, who would be privy to our interview in the studio. The four of us made our way to the Communications building as Bridget and Joey had their show at 1. We got settled and were also joined by Brendan Price, one of the most important cogs in our student organization. Brendan made conversation with Joey and Bridget as they set up their laptops in preparation for the music to begin. Once on air, they introduced themselves as Skull Kid (Joey) and Taco Belle (Bridget). They let their playlist spin and then granted me a gracious interview in the middle of their show.

I found Joey and Bridget to both be very friendly and open with great senses of humor. I may not have been used to interviewing people but they seemed to be pros at answering my questions. Some were pretty simple, but my more interpretive questions were handled with ease. Their answers at point approached the realm of the profound, which I consider a huge victory for my first ever interview. But all the credit goes to them for allowing me their time and being fantastic interviewees.

Here’s how it went:

 

Cameron Satterlee: Alright so looks like we’re recording. I am in the KCR studio with Joey and Bridget. Now, what is your radio slot? I’m just gonna go over the easy questions first.

Joey Bautista: For sure.

CS: Alright, just for the record.

JB: For the record.

Bridget Rickman: Alright, we are Thursdays from 1 to 3, we’re in the Indie Invasion radio block.

CS: Alright cool. So how long have the two of you been with KCR?

JB: This is my second semester here, so yeah just still getting my feet wet metaphorically.

CS: Cool.

BR: Yeah and this is my first semester here at KCR. I was a guest DJ a couple of times last semester, but this is my first official semester.

CS: Cool cool, welcome. So how did the two of you become cohosts?

BR: I met Joey on the freshman Facebook page. We were talking about music. He posted about music and I was like the only one that commented.

JB: I posted the lineup for this festival called Burgerama, it’s this garage rock festival that’s in Santa Ana. And that lineup got announced the same time as Coachella. And I posted the Burgerama lineup in the freshman Facebook page thinking that “hey I can make friends this semester this way.” But the first response was “WHO CARES ABOUT THAT, let’s talk about Coachella” and it got six likes on its comment and I’m like “Man I’m just gonna delete this” and then this girl comments and is like “Why not both? Both lineups are awesome!” And that turned out to be Bridget so yeah.

BR: We just bonded musically over that and became cohosts.

CS: Cool.

JB: Yeah.

CS: Alright so would you two say you have good chemistry as cohosts?

JB: Would we?

BR: (laughing) I think we have really good chemistry. We’re both a little awkward at times but I think that together it works out.

JB: Yeah we’re just awkward people.

BR: Yeah.

JB: So it balances out kind of.

CS: Alright cool, yeah that works. So what music do you play?

BR: Joey and I both make separate hour playlists, and we play a little bit [of each]. It’s the same kind of music but it has our own flair on each playlist. I play a little more garage rock and sometimes a little pop punk, and Joey can talk about what he plays.

JB: I know last semester when I had my own shows I’d play mostly indie pop and garage rock and punk. But this semester I’m focusing a lot more on lo-fi pop music. I don’t want to say I’ve outgrown garage rock, but it’s just not that big a part of my life anymore. So there’s that.

BR: His music taste has surpassed mine. To put it that way (laughs).

CS: Alright. So you say you do the Indie Invasion but you got a bit more specific in genre so thank you that was going to be one of my follow up questions. This one is sort of playing off that also. So why do you like these specific genres?

JB: I mean with lo-fi pop for me, I like a lot of bands like Elvis Depressedly and Alex G and Teen Suicide. And I think the appeal to those kinds of bands for me is and that genre as a whole, is that lyrically it’s really sincere. They get lumped into this kind of stereotype or trope of being overly sad, and I don’t think sadness is something that they glorify, and I don’t think sadness is something that should be glorified. But just the honesty and sincerity of it is really what appeals to me. And it’s really catchy so there’s that too.

BR: My music, since I play a lot of surf punk, garage rock, it’s just a little more upbeat and easy to listen to no matter what you’re doing. I like catchy tunes also. And I like upbeat, I really really like upbeat sounds that I can kinda like dance around to.

CS: Alright great, those were fantastic responses, thank you. So are there any other genres that you’re interested in or is this just your main focus?

BR: For my show this is my main focus cause I kinda like to stick to general sound but I listen to mostly everything. I like pop music and I listen to EDM and all that fun stuff. But for my show this is kinda the genre I stick to.

JB: I’d say about the same. In terms of I stick to my guns when I come to our show, but I listen to everything as well. I especially love Insane Clown Posse (laughs) and Nickelback. Those kinds of bands. I’m really into-

CS: Are you being serious?

BR: (laughs)

JB: I mean you can put that in italics (laughs).

CS: I just had to ask cause I wasn’t sure.

JB: To be totally honest, while Insane Clown Posse and Nickelback both hold very special places in my heart…I listen to a lot of hip hop as well. I think if I wasn’t doing a show on Indie Invasion I’d definitely be doing a hip hop show instead.

CS: Alright. Yeah when I type this up I don’t think the sarcasm or jokes are going to go over as well.

BR: Sorry.

JB: (laughs) I just had to get it in there.

CS: No that’s you. It’s just that I type up “when I asked what kind of music you listen to, Joey said Insane Clown Posse” so that’s what it’s gonna be like.

JB: They fall under hip hop, so you can cancel it out by saying Insane Clown Posse…and Kanye West!

CS: Alright sorry we got a bit off track a little bit.

JB: (laughs)

CS: No it’s cool, I like where this is going. You’ve been very helpful so far.

JB: Thank you.

CS: I mean the worst thing would be if you answered “I like music it’s cool” and I would just have nothing to work with. But you’ve been very helpful. I’ve got a few more reaching questions but you’ve had some really good answers so far so I’m hoping these will also be pretty good. So why is music important to you personally?

JB: You want to go first.

BR: Yeah yeah, I’ll go first. It’s a tough question cause as big of a part as music is in my life I don’t think about it too much it just comes easily. I listen to what I listen to and if I like it I listen to it. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like music. Music is just a huge part of everyone’s lives no matter what you listen to. Music is important to me cause I mean music can make people happy no matter what, no matter you’re listening to.

JB: Any way, for me music is something that I attach a lot of memories to and it’s something that I can measure in time. Like when I was a freshman I had my Beatles phase. When I was sixth to eighth grade I had my “I only listen to underground hip hop” phase. When I was fourth to sixth grade I was like “I like pop punk” and Fall Out Boy and all that. So I think music as like a benchmark for periods in your life is definitely something that I believe in. And apart from listening to music I also make music. I play in a band. And I feel that-this is the obvious answer but playing in a band and making music, just writing songs, is just a great way of getting your ideas and your feelings into something tangible. Like I write a song and then I see that as an achievement. Like for sports people they have their trophies and their medals and all that. I have a song that I can write and then I hold it up as a trophy for myself. Like “oh hey I learned to forgive someone that I never thought that I could” or “hey I got through a really bad depression…a really long bad depression” or something like that. So just using music as points in my life to look back on and to look forward to. For me that’s what it means to me.

CS: Wow. (Laughs) Thank you. That was very great for the two of you thank you. This is a bit less of an esoteric question. Is there anything you’ve been listening to or obsessing about lately? A band, an album, or a single song.

BR: I kind of like to obsess over anything I’ve been listening to at the moment. I’m really into The Frights right now which are a local San Diego band. They kinda play surf punk, dirty doo wop, that’s what they categorize themselves as. And it’s just really fun and upbeat music and the guys are all really cool so I like to play their music no matter what I’m doing at the moment.

JB: For me what I’m obsessing over right now is everyone on the record label called Orchid Tapes. They put out a bunch of lo-fi pop stuff which is what I’m into obviously. But singled out from all those artists is a band-or two projects-called Elvis Depressedly and Coma Cinema. Which are both fronted by this man named Mathew Lee Cothran. And I’d say that lately that for at least the past half a year he’s been my main inspiration. Not just for writing music but in terms of philosophy and everything. And just the ideas he puts into his music and across all his projects each release has left me feeling more inspired than I’ve ever been in my entire life. And that’s not just in terms of writing music but in creating and maintaining the relationships I have in my life. So I look up to him not only as someone whose music I enjoy but as a person.

CS: Alright thank you. I think that just about does it for us. I’ve got one more question, this is kinda a fun one you can answer really quick. Describe a perfect show for the two of you.

BR: One where I wouldn’t be saying “um” every other word maybe, or not looking to Joey for some help because that happens sometimes.

JB: I think a perfect show would be where we don’t stutter once.

BR: Yeah, happens quite a bit. Especially when you’re just doing improv.

JB: Yeah, we don’t plan these things out. The only thing we plan is our playlist.

BR: Yeah.

CS: Alright, thank you. I think that just about wraps it up for us. You know it was eleven minutes so that’s pretty long.

It turned out to be longer than the 5 minutes or so I originally planned, but I thoroughly enjoyed the interview. I’m thinking that most of them will run longer than 5 minutes. Not wanting to take up more of their air time, I shook hand with the duo and bade them goodbye. I got about as far as the bike path on Campanile when Joey ran me down telling me that I forgot to take a picture of them to put on the blog. Backtracking to the studio, I snapped a few photos and thanked the duo profusely once more before leaving once again.

Joey and Bridget both sent me some songs to put on the blog in case any of you listeners are curious about what they’ve been talking about.

Joey’s songs are: Her Sinking Sun by Coma Cinema, Harvey by Alex G, Give Me Back to the Sky by Teen Suicide, and Weird Honey by Elvis Depressedly.

Bridget’s songs are: High School Girl and Kids by The Frights.

So that was the first interview for Sounds of State. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! Be sure to listen to Bridget and Joey from 1 to 3 on Thursdays on KCR College Radio, the Sound of State.