Cotton Mather (band)

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Cotton Mather
Origin Austin, Texas, USA
Genres Power pop[1]
Years active 1991-2003, 2012-Present
Labels Copper Records, Elm, Rainbow Quartz, The Star Apple Kingdom
Associated acts Future Clouds & Radar
  • Robert Harrison
  • Whit Williams
  • George Reiff
  • Darin Murphy
  • Josh Gravelin
  • Dana Myzer
Past members
  • Matt Hovis
  • Greg Thibeaux
  • Wendy March
  • Susan Otten
  • Owen McMahon
  • Peter Altman
  • Tim McMillian
  • Hal Looney
  • Chris Young
  • Konrad Meissner

Cotton Mather is a band that was founded by Robert Harrison of Austin, Texas in 1990. What started as an experimental collaboration with cellist Nat Shelton, had by 1993 evolved into a guitar driven pop quartet.[2] They have drawn comparisons to the Beatles, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Squeeze, and Guided by Voices.[3] In his 2007 book, Shake Some Action, John Borack rated the Kon Tiki album at number 26 of his Top 200 Power Pop Albums of all time, comparing the album to Revolver-era Beatles, Big Star, and The Apples in Stereo.[4] NME suggested Cotton Mather might be "the most exciting guitar pop band since Supergrass."

The group (with the lineup Robert Harrison (guitar and vocals), Whit Williams (guitar and vocals), Matt Hovis (bass) and Greg Thibeaux (drums)) released their debut Cotton is King in 1994 on the short lived ELM label. The follow-up Kon Tiki, was recorded on 4-track cassette and ADAT. By this time George Reiff had assumed bass playing honors and Dana Myzer had taken over on drums. The group's best-known lineup with Harrison, Williams, Myzer and Josh Gravelin (bass) released the seven-song mini-album Hotel Baltimore in 2000 and The Big Picture in 2002. In 2013 and with the same lineup, the group released a new studio single entitled "I'll Be Gone".


Rise to popularity[edit]

Oasis guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher got a copy of Cotton Mather's CD Kon Tiki, and was impressed. He helped promote Cotton Mather and asked them to tour with Oasis.[5] The British psych-pop label Rainbow Quartz reissued Kon Tiki in the UK in late 1998, with the song "My Before and After" gaining a fair amount of radio airplay.[6] The band's "Lost My Motto" was featured on Little Steven Van Zandt's The Coolest Songs In The World Vol. 1.[7]

Breakup and hiatus[edit]

After releasing four albums and a handful of singles, Cotton Mather quietly ended in 2003.[2] In 2005, their song "Lily Dreams On", originally released on Kon Tiki, appeared on the soundtrack of the television show Veronica Mars.

Cotton Mather's frontman and songwriter Robert Harrison formed the band Future Clouds and Radar, with a self-titled CD released on the Star Apple Kingdom label.[8][9] Future Clouds and Radar was named Debut Artist of the Year by Harp magazine in 2007. Future Clouds and Radar followed up their eponymous debut with Peoria in 2009.

Whit Williams and Dana Myzer formed a new band, Stockton, and have released one album.[10] Myzer has relocated to London and joined British guitar pop band Farrah.

Josh Gravelin went on to play, record, and tour with a number of Austin bands and artists including Ian Moore, Alejandro Escovedo, Future Clouds and Radar, Guy Forsyth, Sparkwood, Beaver Nelson, Oxford Files, Nakia, Ray Wylie Hubbard.

Original bassist Matt Hovis teamed with Kevin Whitley (drummer on The Crafty Flower Arranger) and 16 Deluxe vocalist Carrie Clark to form Pretty Please in 2004. The group released one EP which Harrison produced.

Bassist George Reiff who played with Cotton Mather from 1995 to 1997 is an Austin-based musician/producer who has played with Chris Robinson, Court Yard Hounds, Dixie Chicks, Jakob Dylan, Future Clouds and Radar, and Bruce Robison.

Kontiki deluxe reissue[edit]

With copies of the original Kon Tiki CD in demand from record collectors, lead singer Robert Harrison launched a successful campaign in 2011 through Kickstarter to raise funds for an expanded release of the original album in addition to a bonus disc featuring previously unreleased studio and live tracks. The campaign was a success and Harrison exceeded the original financial goal. In spring 2012, Cotton Mather re-released the Deluxe Edition of Kon Tiki, which was showcased on television and radio programs including NPR. The project was praised by Noel Gallagher of Oasis, who helped to garner support for the release.[11]

Cotton Mather reunion[edit]

In spring 2012, Cotton Mather reunited to perform as a band in support of the Kon Tiki deluxe CD reissue. The lineup included Robert Harrison, Whit Williams, Josh Gravelin and Dana Myzer.[2]

Although their live appearances were initially intended to be limited engagements, Cotton Mather have continued to perform live as a quartet at high-profile music festivals and special events. Cotton Mather performed at LouFest music festival with The Flaming Lips and Dinosaur Jr..

After performing shows and making appearances, Cotton Mather have recorded and released a new studio single entitled "I'll Be Gone". In July 2016 the band released Death of the Cool through Star Apple Kingdom.[12]


The band gets its name from 17th century Puritan preacher and author Cotton Mather, a minister at Boston's North Church.[2]


  • Crafty Flower Arranger (1992, demo-album)
  • "Payday"/"Miss Information" (45 single 1993)
  • Cotton Is King (1994)
  • Kon Tiki (1997)
  • Hotel Baltimore (EP) (1999)
  • Password (CD Single) (1999)
  • My Before & After (CD Single) (2000)
  • The Big Picture (2001)
  • 40 Watt Solution (EP) (2001)
  • Kon Tiki Deluxe Edition (2012)
  • I'll Be Gone (45 Single) (2013)
  • Death of the Cool (2016)
  • Wild Kingdom (2017)

External links[edit]