Curious About Cotter? Check Out New Goose Drummer’s Past Performances

Explore the musical past and present of the band’s newest member.

By Andy Kahn Feb 7, 2024 1:29 pm PST

After weeks of speculation, Goose this week named Cotter Ellis as the band’s new drummer, replacing Ben Atkind who in December 2023 announced his departure from the band he co-founded in 2014. Ellis is scheduled to make his public debut behind the kit when Goose takes the stage at Solshine Reverie festival in Central Illinois over Memorial Day Weekend, followed by a muti-week summer tour.

Ellis began playing drums in elementary school. He was a member of the marching band at Bedford High School in Bedford, Massachusetts where he also played goalie on the hockey team before graduating in 2010.

Ellis continued to study and play drums while attending Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Ellis spoke about his formative years learning to play drums in an interview posted to YouTube way back in August 2013. In the +10 year-old-clip he states:

“In high school, I did marching band [and] played the quads, which are four drums or five drums that got me really good at rudiments because I had to practice specific rudiments and stick patterns and written stuff, which I wasn’t that good at because I’d been learning by playing in a band. It rounded off my drum education.

“The two biggest aspects of playing the drums are the mathematical and musical. On paper, you gotta decipher rhythms, you gotta work on which hand you play with and flams and all kinds of little stick tricks that you would learn in a formal school setting.

“Then you have to learn stuff like how to play with a band. I think when I came to college, the coolest thing that I learned, like right off the bat, was my teacher on the first day said, ‘I’m not gonna make you the fastest drummer that ever lived. And I’m not gonna make you break any records or be the flashiest drummer, but I promise that I’ll make you sound good in a band.’”

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While attending Plymouth State University, Ellis co-founded Swimmer in 2014 with Matt Dolliver, Joe Agnello and Jack Vignone. Currently based out of Burlington, Vermont, Swimmer – a self-described “rotten roll” band – took umbrage at being labeled a jam band by Burlington-based Seven Days and responded to the designation with the tongue-in-check track “We Are Not A Jam Band” that appeared on their 2019 live album, Tails From The Rat Kingdom.

“I’ve known Cotter for over 10 years,” Goose’s Peter Anspach said. “Our two bands Great Blue and Swimmer were coming up in the scene at the same time and played countless shows together.”

Along with Swimmer, Ellis has been an active member of Burlington’s vibrant music scene, performing with a number of local musicians. Recently, Ellis has been a part of guitarist Zach Nugent’s latest Dead Set lineup.

Additionally, Ellis has performed with Phish tribute acts Multibeast and Satan’s Dogs as well as Marcus Rezak, the PTF Duo (Pink Talking Fish’s Eric Gould and Cal Kehoe), Matt Dolliver & Familiar Faces, Hayley Jane and Nico Suave & The Mothership, among others including the Everyone Orchestra.

In addition to Swimmer’s original material, Ellis is well-versed in the music of bands like the Grateful Dead, Phish, Led Zeppelin, The Band, Pink Floyd and others through his association with the aforementioned musicians. Last night he performed the music of the Grateful Dead as part of the 11 year anniversary celebration of Grateful Tuesdays at Nectar’s in Burlington.

Below watch last night’s Grateful Tuesday’s livestream via Volume.com and scroll on for a survey of Cotter Ellis’ pre-Goose performances.

11 Year Anniversary of Grateful Tuesdays

Grateful Dead/Zach Nugent’s Dead Set

Led Zeppelin/Nico Suave & The Mothership

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Grateful Dead/Marcus Rezak & Shred Is Dead

Phish/Satan’s Dogs

The Band/Solo

Pink Floyd/With Lara Cwass & Jack Vignone

The Band/Cotter & The Hawks

Swimmer

Hayley Jane

Everyone Orchestra

Glitter Tits With Ashley Warwick

Goose gave a sampling of what the band will sound like with Cotter Ellis playing drums via yesterday’s release of Ted Tapes 2024. Recorded in the studio, the album consists of nine improvised tracks. Goose also previewed the Cotter Ellis era by sharing a video of an improvisational sequence recorded using the band’s full production inside an empty theatre. Watch that and stream Ted Tapes 2024 below:

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