“SONG FOR EWE”
with KEVIN COULTAS of
“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.
Today’s guest was first brought to my attention when he was name-checked by Will Oldham of the Palace Brothers in a very early edition of the original Velvet Sheep fanzine. He was the drummer in a band who closely followed Slint in cementing the legend of Louisville as a hot-bed of hardcore, and who became architects of a quiet-quiet-quiet-loud style of playing that went onto be known as post-rock and math-rock (or maths rock if you went to school in England like me!). Named Rodan, they were also artists who were prone to thinking, so I’m so chuffed to welcome the thinking person’s percussionist, the keeper of the drum stool and dynamics for both Rodan and later Rachel’s, it’s welcome back to Velvet Sheep 20+ years later for Mr. Kevin Coultas!
Kevin Coultas is not the first Louisville legend to appear on the resurrected version of VS, recently we’ve had Todd Brashear of Slint and the new professor of CUNY, Bastro, Squirrel Bait & Gastr del Sol’s David Grubbs but his band Rodan and their album “Rusty” (named after the nickname of engineer and Shellac member Bob Weston) equally helped raise the profile of Louisville to legendary status.
I hooked out the copy of Velvet Sheep where I first reviewed their landmark album to see what words of wisdom I spouted about it back then. For the record, it was issue number 12 – cover below, featuring an interview with Bob Nastanovic of Pavement, but also features on Man or Astro Man?, my favs The Jesus Lizard, the aforementioned Palace Brothers (this was a review in the issue some time after the interview with Will), Mark Lanegan, the Boredoms and Mule.
Here’s what I said of “Rusty” circa 1994, on a page where I also reviewed fellow VS fav Thalia Zedek’s Uzi, plus the less remembered Rollerskate Skinny and Lotion.
RODAN – Rusty LP (Quarterstick)
“Joining the celestial excellence of fellow Kentucky fried chicken and Louisville sluggers – Slint, Palace Brothers, Squirrel Bait & Bastro. Palace Brothers in their interview with early Velvet Sheep cited Rodan as one of their favourite bands and it’s not hard to see why – it drips like new rain off a lush green leaf, an air of uplift beneath a melancholy landscape that seems to be the exclusive reign of those in the fresh Kentucky air. It’s the dynamics of a horizon, a seepage of honey-infused blood. “Rusty” named after their “beloved” engineer Bob “Rusty” Weston is their first part of a plan to conquer – seek and destroy and revive, then lay down in the sun. After the widely-spoken acclaim of US single “Darjeeling” – the next stage is for singles on 3 Little Girls and Index plus a tour supporting the excellent Drive Like Jehu stateside. Hopefully, they’ll emerge here wide-eyed later. The theory to Louisville’s success – “It all stems from the fact that we didn’t get a lot of national bands down here, and we rely on ourselves to try and entertain each other”.
Kevin and his band Rodan certainly entertained many beyond Louisville, and they did make it to the UK recording a John Peel session in 1994 a year before Velvet Sheep was mentioned on air by the great man. By this time Rodan had dissolved despite a career of “fifteen quiet years” of which the resonance continues.
I was intrigued to find out what Kevin has been up to recently, and it was my pleasure to get back in touch with him to find out, and to discover his “song for ewe”…
It’s over to Kevin:
“The Humpback Whale” by Nic Jones
Although I spend nearly all of my free music-listening time programming improvised music for my radio show “Mingle” (Tuesdays 6-8 pm, EST on artxfm.com/97.1 WXOX), a song by Nic Jones crept back into my consciousness recently.
Actually Harry Robertson wrote the song as Ballina Whalers, but Jones renamed it for his extraordinary 1980 record, Penguin Eggs. If Old World adventure songs put to singular fretwork are your thing, this is the stuff for you.”
A MIGHTY THANKS TO KEVIN.