New Louisville Emo Band Drying Out Is Far From Washed Up

Mar 16, 2022 at 11:53 am
The band Drying Out will be playing at Mag Bar this Saturday night.
The band Drying Out will be playing at Mag Bar this Saturday night. Photo by Mat Schladen

Your new favorite emo boys are rooted right here in Louisville.

Drying Out is an emo band whose members include vocalist/guitarist Aaron Cottner, drummer Justin Cottner and bassist Tony Delise. (A fourth member, guitarist/vocalist Alex Hoagland, is dialing back his involvement in Drying Out due to the time constraints of also being in a two-person band, Feral Vices, with Justin.) 

The Cottner brothers recently sat down with LEO at a distinctly non-emo location — the Northeast Regional Library — to talk about their work and preview some tracks.

Even amongst other emo bands, Drying Out has a distinctive sound, thanks to Aaron’s harsh, grating vocal style. (“I call it scream-singing!” he said proudly.) That description isn’t meant as an insult, by the way — his voice gives a very fitting rawness to lyrics about things like grief, isolation and suicidal ideation.

In “Washington Street,” which also happens to be this reporter’s favorite Drying Out song, the narrator sings calmly about the loneliness of a dead relationship in a new town: “I digress, it’s been weighing on me since I left / My thoughts are whole and they swell in my chest / I may have grown in a new place I’m having trouble calling home / I’ve made friends but nights with you have never felt more alone.” 

Not long after, the ferocity amps up — “this loneliness is so fucking crippling” — and it’s powerful, even before the later mid-verse transition into scream-singing in the line, “Eviscerate my arms so you can see the open bleeding heart that I keep giving out to anyone.”

It’s easy to imagine a crowd scream-singing along to it, as they did on their last tour; Justin describes the experience as “insane” and “surreal.” In fact, it’s his own song — he wrote those lyrics about his time living in San Francisco, fruitlessly trying to salvage a stale relationship.

That said, it’s a little difficult to fully profile a band when they only have three songs out at the moment: “Washington Street,” “Sinking,” and “Your Spirit Surrounds Me,” although the band will play a few other as-yet-unreleased tracks on their upcoming tour. For one of them, “Blood Orange,” sort of a companion piece to “Your Spirit Surrounds Me,” the band is planning a full — and, ironically, very colorful — merch line when it releases later this spring.

The song has been in the works for a while, though: LEO received an initial demo of the song back in November 2021, but Aaron first wrote it in November 2020, not long after the band got back from Sound Acres Recording Studio in New Jersey. Aaron has ADHD, which he says plays a role in his music production process: after coming home from his day job at Quills in NuLu (where Justin also works), he’ll often go straight into his office and sit down for hours, just working on music, in “really long manic sessions.” (He wrote “Blood Orange” in 12 hours.)

Still, he acknowledges, a work-life (im)balance like that isn’t really sustainable, but he’s got his eye on making a music product that is. His ultimate goal for the band is to defy the misconception that music like that can’t make it in the mainstream music world — as he pointed out, Turnstile recently had their “Nirvana MTV” moment when they appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

Their success, he said, “fills me with the biggest fire under my ass.”

“If I didn’t have so many people support me, I wouldn’t make things at all, but I’ve also had my fair share of people say that the type of music that I want to create is not commercial, is not sellable, is not enough that you can support yourself off of it,” he said, but “getting that much mainstream live TV recognition for a genre of music that people have outcasted for so long made — that’s my goal. I want to create or do something with the band that people look back on and see as an influential moment, whether it’s an album we made, whether it’s a show we played, whether it’s a place we went.”

Cottner’s other goal, he said, is “to just uplift all the homies around.” 

“I have so many friends that deserve so much better than what they have now, that are so talented. I want to do things, and I want to take my homies with me and just create a bunch of cool stuff that has a lasting impression in some way.”

Drying Out will play at Mag Bar this Saturday. Tickets are $10; doors open at 7 p.m; the show starts at 8 p.m. 

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