Cotton Mather (band)

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This article is about a rock band. For the 17th century Puritan minister, see Cotton Mather.
Cotton Mather
Origin Austin, Texas, USA
Genres Power pop[1]
Years active 1991-2003
Labels Copper Records, Elm, Rainbow Quartz
Associated acts Future Clouds & Radar
  • Robert Harrison
  • Whit Williams
  • Josh Gravelin
  • Dana Myzer
Past members
  • Matt Hovis
  • Greg Thibeaux
  • George Reiff
  • Darrin Murphy

Cotton Mather are a power pop band that was founded by Robert Harrison of Austin, Texas in 1989. What started as an experimental collaboration with cellist Nat Shelton (which Harrison now refers to as "Cotton Mather the Elder") had by 1993 evolved into a guitar driven pop quartet defined by accessible melodies, strong vocal harmonies and lyrical wit. They have drawn comparisons to the Beatles, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, Squeeze, and Guided By Voices.[2] 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 Apples in Stereo.[3] NME suggested Cotton Mather might just 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, famously recorded on 4-track cassette and ADAT drew praise from critics and rock-stars alike. 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 7 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." They were rumored to be working on an all-new studio album, which was to be followed by a double-disc live concert album. However, as of Sept. 2015, nothing has come out.


Rise to popularity[edit]

Oasis guitarist and songwriter Noel Gallagher got a copy of Cotton Mather's CD Kon Tiki, and was very impressed. Oasis helped promote Cotton Mather and asked them to tour with Oasis.[4] The British psych-pop label Rainbow Quartz reissued Kon Tiki in the UK in late 1998, becoming a massive hit, with the song "My Before and After" even gaining a fair amount of radio airplay.[5] The band's Lost My Motto was featured on Little Steven Van Zandt's "Coolest Songs In The World Vol. 1".[6]

Breakup and hiatus[edit]

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

Cotton Mather's frontman and songwriter Robert Harrison has a band called Future Clouds and Radar, with a self-titled CD released on the Star Apple Kingdom label.[7][8] 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 the equally well received Peoria in 2009.

Whit Williams and Dana Myzer formed a new band, Stockton, and have released one album.[9] Dana 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, and many more. He currently resides in Minnesota.

Original bassist Matt Hovis (nephew of Hogan's Heroes co-star Larry Hovis) is CEO of the marketing and advertising firm Exoplolis and still lives in Austin. Hovis teamed with Kevin Whitley (drummer on The Crafty Flower Arranger) and 16 Deluxe vocalist Carrie Clark to form the Pretty Please in 2004. The group released one EP which Harrison produced.

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

Founding member Nat Shelton now lives in Minneapolis and has not been part of the band's subsequent lineups.

Greg Thibeaux lives in Eugene, Oregon and is a Civil Engineer.

Kontiki deluxe reissue[edit]

With copies of the original Kon Tiki CD commanding hefty sums of money 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 complete 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 high profile television and radio programs including NPR. The project was heavily praised by Noel Gallagher of Oasis, who helped to garner worldwide support for the release.

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 the best-known version of the band with Robert Harrison, Whit Williams, Josh Gravelin and Dana Myzer.

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 recently performed at LouFest music festival with The Flaming Lips and Dinosaur Jr..

In addition to Cotton Mather, singer Robert Harrison will continue to write, record and tour with his other group, Future Clouds and Radar.

New studio release[edit]

After performing shows and making appearances to critical acclaim, Cotton Mather have recorded and released a new studio single entitled "I'll Be Gone." The band are currently working on an all-new studio album, which will be followed by a double-disc live album featuring the quartet live in concert.


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


  • 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)

External links[edit]