Back at the start of January, Mat Cothran – one half of Run For Cover signed indie-rock outfit, Elvis Depressedly – tweeted in typically frank fashion: “the media don’t give a fuck but i do have two albums coming out this year one of them very soon.” Followed by, “if anyone is interested in a conversation about them hmu.”
“The two releases I’m speaking of,” he later explains, “are a reissue of my band Elvis Depressedly’s album ‘Holo Pleasures’, with six ‘bonus’ tracks that were left off the original recording, as well as a release under my Coma Cinema project, which will be the successor to my last album under that name, ‘Posthumous Release’. [The new Coma Cinema record] is called ‘Tasty Mask’.”
With Elvis Depressedly gaining popularity, it makes sense from a promotional point of view to re-release material from the band’s pre-RFC days that might have fallen under the radar. Mat however, isn’t too susceptible to that sort of thinking, and his reasons concern the transparency of his art, rather than the marketability of it. “Over time I’ve come to enjoy the ‘bonus’ album more than the original album,” he explains. “I think people will be able to hear the transitional period that lead us to make ‘New Alhambra’ which was a more groove-influenced record and less fuzzy.”
All pretty straightforward on the Elvis Depressedly front then, barring a release date, but Mat takes care to clarify that it’s the Coma Cinema project, ‘Tasty Mask’ that the ‘one of them very soon’ part of his tweet was in reference to – and he seems pretty set on delivering on that half-promise. “I’d like to release ‘Tasty Mask’ in February, barring some misfortune,” he reveals. “As of now I have no idea if it will be self released or not. I know people want physical releases but that won’t be possible if I release it on my own, the upside though will be it can come out sooner rather than waiting the months and months it takes for vinyl to be manufactured – and for a press cycle puppet show to be constructed.”
People do want physical releases. In fact it’s almost stranger now for an album – especially coming from the broad sphere of music that Mat tends to occupy in his work – not to come out on wax than it ever has been. With that in mind, Mat reassures that while nothing is set in stone, he is “in talks with cool people” for a potential vinyl release in the future.
As you’ll know if you follow Mat on social media, he’s not a man who tends to mince words (“press cycle puppet show” should give some indication as to his regard for niceties). With that in mind, it’s still refreshing to hear someone so forthcoming about their music, especially with a release looming. “I think people who got into us through ‘New Alhambra’ might not necessarily be into ‘Tasty Mask’ right off the bat,” he confesses, burying the cliched ‘we’ve progressed, but still kept our identity’ spiel many artists spin. “As Elvis Depressedly has become more popular, and Coma Cinema less so over the years, I feel it’s necessary to use this as an outlet to explore a darker, more experimental kind of record.”
An endlessly intriguing prospect to be sure, but then Mat himself is an endlessly intriguing man, infamous for publicly decrying all manner of industry wrongdoings. “I’m not really anti-industry so much as I am aware of the game being played and those who are preyed upon,” he clarifies. “The music business is very classist. The richest get so many breaks that other artists don’t, and there are so many vile people out there waiting to drain what little money an up and coming artist is making. Managers, for instance, are a truly disgusting breed of people. There’s absolutely no fucking reason an artist with little more than a Bandcamp page and a few write ups about their song needs a manager.”
“There’s so much manipulation,” he continues. “A young artist nowadays would be better off hiring a lawyer than a manager, and better off doing their own digital distribution than letting a label do that for you. It’s no more difficult for an artist to have their music on Spotify than it is for a label to do it. The gate is open, the industry geezers are the ones locking it.”
There seems to be something bubbling in the DIY community, something that doesn’t just stick to the ‘we don’t need these people’ ethos that that scene represents, but actively pushes forward a mantra of outright refusing to become someone else’s commodity. Few are as flagrantly outspoken about it as Mat is on that matter, but it’s a sentiment clearly shared by a number of bands – and not solely by default of shared ideologies either. For Mat, a love and respect for the music and the artists behind it acts as the driving force for how vocal he is on such matters.
“All those artists,” he begins, referring to the likes of Alex G, Girlpool, Told Slant and Teen Suicide, mentioned to him as being his immediate peers and potential revolutionaries, “are some of my best friends.”
“We’ve all been drawn to one another in an almost cosmic, kind of incredible way. I think Rachel Levy of the project R.L. Kelly introduced me to Alex G’s music and it just floored me. Girlpool, Sam Ray [Teen Suicide frontman] and all his projects, these are just my favourite people in the world making my favourite music. I’m the oldest of all the bands mentioned, and I try to look out for them if I can, without being a know-it-all. I’ve just been fucked over a lot and to see that happen to them would kill me.”
Clearly, Mat’s rhetoric is born from love and a feeling of responsibility to protect his friends and fellow artists. “I feel in my heart,” he states, “that if you have a voice that reaches people and you’re not talking about what’s wrong with the things you care about or know about – and in my case all I know is music and the music business – then you are failing in your job as a person.”
It’s damning, sure, but for Mat it’s not just about watching and commenting on what others do. It seems as though he wants to be far more than just a talker, but he recognises that to achieve his lofty aims, forthrightness is key. “My goal,” he outlines in conclusion, “is to create a system where artists who don’t have the privileges of the rich and connected would be able to let their art be presented on the same stage as those that do – then we’ll see who has the real talent and who bought their way in. If we can have equality in art, we can have unilateral equality – and art is my life so I want to be a part of that worldly equality wherever I can.”
Ambitious and election-worthy as his closing statement may be, it’s hard not to admire a person with something to say – and the spine to say it.