Veteran Brain Cottrill of the West Virginia original music scene is a founding member of Drain Babies and The Grey Agents of which he has been the primary songwriter, vocalist and guitarist for the last five years. "The Grey Agents play new music that sounds very much like 1979 classic rock. The sound is dense and layered with guitars, keyboards and vocals. I wanted to strip my songs down to their bare core and leave them raw. I picked songs from my lifetime of writing, from being a 17 year old to new songs that didn't exist before this album started. I didn't give myself a lot of takes to make this record. If I couldn't get a good track after a few takes, I moved on to something else. I wanted the performance to sound fresh" states Cottrill. With only acoustic guitar, vocals and harmonica found on the album, except for “Gates of Venus” that has the addition of drums, bass, keyboards, and mandolin. His songs on this album have various meanings such as being written about his daughter, parents or even about the Harry Powers murders that occurred in 1931 and will be available on all major streaming and download platforms.
“Erica” is a song written by Brian Cottrill that is written about his daughter, and you can hear the love and joy that he has for the relationship with her just shining through each lyric. I love that the song starts off with the sound of strings to set the mood, and then Brian is accompanied by the peaceful strumming’s of the guitar to beautifully add to this heartfelt track. “Erica” has lyrics that are meaningful and that you can tell were thought out very carefully to be melded into words that his daughter could take with her through all walks of life whether tough or full of happiness. His vocals are refined, are full of passion, and personally I feel like you can hear the experience behind his voice and that he has had quite the journey himself, maybe trying to pass some wisdom onto his daughter for the future through his love of music. As a daughter myself, “Erica” makes me think of all the wonderful things my father has done for me, and how he has been there for me rooting me on no matter the circumstances and it honestly brought tears to my eyes. In my opinion, people often take for granted how much their parents really do cheer them on and this was a beautiful reminder that they always are.
Listen to "Erica" here and get to know more about Brian Cottrill below!
Hey Brian! Fantastic to chat with you! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I have been playing in a band called The Grey Agents for the last five years and I just released my first solo album, Through They Keyhole. It's an acoustic singer/songwriter album. Just me with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica.
Have any of your life experiences shaped how you create new music?
I wrote a song about my parents and my daughter. So my family should be on the lookout for what they do, it might end up in a song! A lot of the songs are just about what I see and people around me. One song called, "The Murder Farm' is about the 1931 Harry Powers serial murders. It was story I heard growing up, I live about a mile form the site. There's a long history in songwriting about crime and death. I wrote three new songs for this album. But the rest were written throughout my life. I wrote "Lace" when I was 17. It was the first song I wrote that wasn't terrible. I wrote these songs over the last 37 years. Most of them were never released. Three songs were brand new and just written for this album.
What does your creative process look like when creating and recording new music?
I just write about what I see around me. It might be something someone says or something in the news. I have a recording studio in my basement. You can see it in some of my videos. So it's easy for me to record after something is written. Since I did this album alone and played all the instruments, I could work at my own quick pace without having to wait for anyone or to schedule anything. I recorded this album in two months. I did everything in 1-3 takes. If I couldn't get the inspiration quick, I just moved on to something else.
Tell us about some artists that inspire your sound.
I love Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and John Mellencamp. I love 70's old school punk, too. I just wanted to strip my songs back without the full band, but just me and my guitar and see how the stand on their own.
Is there anything new we can expect to see from you in 2019?
This new album was just released, so that's the new thing in 2019. I have played some live shows and will play some more. I haven't played without a band for 30 years. So it's both fun and terrifying to go out there bare with just an acoustic guitar. You feel naked out there. I've also been playing some covers on YouTube and FaceBook. I did a version of Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A Changin'" where I changed it to 4/4 time and played all the instruments: guitar, bass, and drums. I made a video for The Beatles "Eleanor Rigby" where I played acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass and drums. And I did a hard rock cover of John Lennon's "Imagine" with some very talented friends.
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