A Couple of Questions with Robert Harrison of Cotton Mather
ALSO: Cotton Mather was featured in our The Best Albums You've (Probably) Never Heard feature.
For those just learning about Kon Tiki now, can you give a nutshell summary of your career prior to its release?
Well, Cotton Mather were what's called a baby band in '94 when we got signed with much fanfare to an fancy schmanzy L.A. based start-up label. The folks running it were nice enough, but nothing about the experience lived up to the expectations, and by the end of that chapter, the bass player and drummer had both split, and I suppose I was somewhat disillusioned about "the industry.” I went underground for a time and actually lived in Ireland with my wife for a bit. In a few months, Whit Williams (our guitarist) and I resumed our work together and began tackling new material with a succession of new musicians and producers, but nothing quite clicked. Then, at the advice of one frustrated producer who found me to be beyond his ability to "produce," I holed up in a little room way out in the country with very minimal gear and very limited knowledge and began creating something for the first time that moved me. Whit was my main foil and we had a loose collective of players who came by and contributed when needed.
Do you recall any anecdotes from the recording of the album?
Most of the recording was done pretty late at night. It took about 45 minutes to get out to this little house where "the gear" was. We had a key and could work in off hours. There was an ADAT machine, a couple of mikes, an Alesis compressor, a pre-amp, my 4-track and little else. And it was a hoot. We drank nasty Bud tall boys and ate the Colonel's fried chicken as a rule (that's how you get that greasy sound). There was a dog named Sparky outside who was always barking his brains out, and we had to re-cut many a take due to old Sparky…but he's in there if you listen.
Did you expect it to have a better commercial reception than it did?
Yes, but I don't know why. Especially in the U.S., it never really had that much of a chance to go big, given the size operations we signed on to. But I'd say in the UK, we did moderately well and made some great fans.
Are you pleased to find that it still maintains enough of a following to make its way into this piece?
Does one man constitute a following?
What are you doing now?
Future Clouds and Radar. Check it out: it’s coming this Spring, and you're gonna dig it, baby!