with BILLY COTÉ of

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today it’s the main songwriter & guitarist of 90s indie heroes and John Peel Festive 50 favs Madder Rose. On all 4 of their albums, he went onto make 2 records with Madder Rose bandmate Mary Lorson as Piano Creeps (one also featuring Kathy Ziegler) and then made a record as The Jazz Cannon. I’m pleased to get him on VS, as the writer of such amazing, tunes (that resonate with me even to this day) as “Beautiful John”, “Panic On”, “Swim” and “Lights Go Down”, it’s an honour to include Billy Coté!

Photograph by Tenzin Chopak

Here’s “Swim” as a reminder of the great man’s talents:

More recently, Billy has been making music for gallery installations, as well as some solo acoustic / electro material. He’s also been working with his old Madder Rose partners – Mary Lorson, Rick Kubic, Matt Verta-ray and Chris Giammalvo on some new tracks that they (whisper it) may or may not release as Madder Rose.

Billy says “I love all those guys. Mary Lorson and I occasionally play duo gigs together, performing both older and new material”.

He also recently released a single under his own name on the Polytechnic Youth label out of London…


And here’s a link to a project/gallery show Billy did with 2 other artists last October:

“36 Transitions
A collaborative, multimedia installation featuring musician Billy Coté, writer Jon Frankel and artist Craig Mains, exhibiting 6 groups of 6 linked works of image, music and text in an interdisciplinary mix of the game broken telephone and exquisite corpse.”


Before we get Billy’s “song for ewe” here’s a reminder of the choice of Madder Rose partner-in-crime Mary Lorson…


Without further ado, here’s Billy’s “song for ewe”…

“The Drinking Song” by Gary Bartz NTU Troop. I chose this song mainly for the feel of it. As a New Yorker throughout my 20’s and 30’s, I hear this as the soundtrack to my life on the Lower East Side – the dangerous walks home at night, the mice running across my upper lip as I slept, the guy from Pussy Galore across the hall. And the knowledge of being a tiny part of the fabric of the coolest place on earth (this was the 80’s and 90’s, not now).

Anyway, the interplay between the musicians on this track is so casual, so familiar, so graceful. I am drawn to instances of grace, lately. Where’d it go, I wonder? I live in the USA, remember, where folks are dumping their pain on each other with almost joyful abandoned. I sometimes feel as though I’ve washed up on some strange and inexplicable shore. Perhaps we are experiencing people’s brutish response to having possibility ripped from them.

As David Bowie said, “What in the world can you do?”