a life in poptimism

Thursday 16th, March 2017 / 16:12
by Steve Mann

VANCOUVER – It’s tempting to group Elvis Depressedly in with a wave of nihilistic American DIY bands that rose up along with Bandcamp via Tumblr blogs and #lofi. If you get to the Q & A that’s been ongoing on social media between Elvis Depressedly’s Mat Cothran and anyone who’ll ask, you get the impression of someone extremely honest and occasionally fed up with some bullshit that fits perfectly with someone who writes songs about the ugliness of the world. Speaking to him re-contextualizes everything. There’s a distinct excitement and passion in how he sees the future of Elvis Depressedly for both himself and bandmate Delaney Mills.
There’s certainly reason to be excited. In 2015, after six years and eight releases spread over three projects (the other two being Cothran solo projects — Coma Cinema and Mathew Lee Cothran), Elvis Depressedly released their label debut on Run for Cover Records, New Alhambra. It’s a richly textured record that adds a discernible complexity to the Elvis Depressedly catalogue with the addition of samples and less traditional song structures to the already enticing pallete of manipulated vocals, entropic personal lyrics and deliberate out-of-the-box production choices.

It was quite a departure compared to what many would look at as their breakthrough record, Holo Pleasures, which was Elvis Depressedly’s take on shoegaze. After seeing how much the out-of-print seven-inch was going for on the secondary market, they saw an opportunity to re-release the record in 2016 as a full length with the addition of California Dreamin’, a collection of songs cast aside during the original recording sessions that Cothran and Mills revisited. While songs like “Slipped” have a bit of New Alhambra in them, Cothran tried to stay honest to the spirit of the 2013 Holo Pleasures recordings by deliberately recording things “the wrong way.” When asked about this purposeful backtracking, Cothran elaborated, “It was definitely kinda weird to go back, because I do see Elvis Depressedly as a band where I want clarity and I want digitalism. Our goal is top 40. So going back to that fuzz and mystery was strange, but still fun.”
These chart-topping aspirations may come as a surprise but in Mills and Cothran’s eyes, Elvis Depressedly was always a pop band.
“If it doesn’t, it’s not a big deal, ‘cause it’s a pipe dream anyway, but if it does it’ll be like anything else I thought would never happen but happened anyway.” These pipe dreams come true, include touring outside of the U.S. with UK dates last summer, an upcoming Euro tour, as well as being able to subsist off of revenue from their music — an element of stability that Cothran attributes to allowing him to tackle his current sobriety.
The clarity sobriety has afforded Cothran is reflected in his latest record, Judas Hung Himself in America, released as Mathew Lee Cothran. The record was the last hurrah for the old DIY recording equipment Cothran had been using to make music since day one. It also highlights his pop ambitions, with new vocal processing obviously inspired by the Billboard hits he sees himself among. In anticipation of the release, Cothran reflects, “It’s going to be interesting, I think. That’ll be like the first swing at the plate, and the next thing I’m hoping for is the home run. But if not, I’ll get it on the third swing for sure. I get three, you know!”

Elvis Depressedly performs March 23 at the Biltmore Ballroom (all ages)