For more than a decade, Washed Up Rookie has been a duo. Over the years, singer/guitarist Colton Cogdill and drummer Madison Cotton have released a string of EPs of their smoky, blues-infused indie rock. Though the two aren’t currently working together, Washed Up remains a de facto two-piece — albeit with an unlikely stand-in for Cotton. Deciding to take advantage of the opportunity to try something new, Cogdill set out to explore a far different sound than what he had been previously known for. In doing so, he sought to find a new person to collaborate with. That’s when he hooked up with producer Milky Beatz.
“Towards the end of playing with [Cotton], I was just listening to my interests and where I was at that time,” Cogdill explained about working with a beatmaker instead of a drummer for the first time. “It had been on my mind. I was feeling that pull [to do something different]. I like hooks. I am a sucker for hooks. [Beatz and I] linked up and took off sprinting. So, [I said], ‘Let’s dive in. Let’s see what’s going on here.’ Have some fun with it, you know? It’s been interesting exploring different ways to create a song.”
Last week, the duo released the single “Yogi Berra” with an accompanying video. The song is the first from the forthcoming EP Attachment Issues due out July 8. With sparkling synths, deep 808 kick, and a healthy dose of Auto-tune, the track is a wild departure from the fuzzy minor-blues that’s made up Washed Up Rookie’s catalog to date. It’s difficult, however, to pinpoint just what the sound is. There’s an infectious fusion of hip-hop, chillwave, and pop. It’s also not quite any of these things.
“As a style of music, I don’t know, man,” Cogdill deflected when asked to describe it. “I can’t get a solid read on it. I guess if we want to get niche, the closest thing I can come up with for Spotify playlists or whatever is ‘anti-pop.’ ”
One might call it anti-pop, but Cogdill’s melodies are anything but anti-hooks. “Yogi Berra” is a smoke-friendly, laidback jam coming at just the right time to cool some of the sweltering summer heat.
Despite the seeming artistic left turn, the sound is actually a surprisingly natural feel for Cogdill, and he seems right at home in this new sonic element.
“There’s pieces of me in all of it,” he said. “I’m just carrying over older parts of me and getting to know new parts. That’s life, baby.”
Having historically written mostly from a guitar player’s perspective, Cogdill said the working relationship with Beatz has been a learning experience. It’s been illuminating finding out just all the different directions the collaboration can go.
“With him and his background making beats,” Cogdill said, “and my background, which has been solely guitar based — riffing on parts and coming up with vocals — that’s always been the bones. I still do a little of that, but it’s opened up some doors for me as far as sitting back and listening and being able to obsess over melody as opposed to building this thing from the six-string.”
Trading tracks and ideas back and forth, the working relationship has produced a number of surprises. The two have decided that no particular direction will be attempted or excluded.
“I’ll bring him something that I had worked out on guitar and then I just let him use his ‘milk mind,’ ” Cogdill said with a laugh. “And it turns into something else. And I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, man! That’s it! You just hit it!’ It’s fun for me. It’s new territory.”
A second single, “Kombucha,” is set to come out on July 24. A sneak peek of the track reveals a continuation of the sound established with “Yogi Berra” but one that perhaps leans further into the aesthetics. With the EP reportedly boasting a couple actual rap features, Cogdill seems committed to pursuing this collaboration for all it’s worth. When asked if he’s worried the change could be alienating, he brushes it off.
“Nah,” he said. “I’m too far in it. I guess if I allowed that, maybe, but it’s house money, man. If we’re going by what we feel and how it sounds and we’re in agreement, I trust my judgment, and I trust his. It’ll work out however it does. I’m just listening to my interests. This is where I’m at right now. Let’s rock with that [for a while], and then we’ll go from there.”