About that Grimes cover

In case you were paying attention to some other band on Thursday, we uploaded a cover of Grimes’ California. Before doing this, the only other cover we’d learnt was a Pixies song we played for our first few shows. This was before we had enough songs to fill a set. Playing other people’s songs is a right of passage for a new band and we dutifully butchered Where Is My Mind in a manner in which every band owes their heroes. I have a video of the event in question, but I won’t ruin your day by sharing it. The Grimes thing first came about in December 2015. We fancied doing an acoustic live video and couldn’t decide on a song. Art Angels had just come out so with little to no thought, we just went for it. I don’t think Neil had heard it before the words “what about this?” had left our mouths, but at the time, Phoebe and I were listening to that record constantly. I still love that album, the whole thing is so damn sugary, but it’s interspersed with all these super weird elements which leave the whole thing feeling like a bad sitcom’s interpretation of a LSD trip. The production on the original is so densely layered that every time I lock in, I hear new stuff that I hadn’t before.

We re-arranged it with an acoustic guitar, bass, and Phoebe’s sample pad, and realised it’s just two chords repeated but the melodies are so strong you don’t really notice. What I’m trying to say is it’s a very good song; it’s nice to be able to gush about something we get to play regularly without feeling like an idiot. We put the video up on facebook and more people than we expected seemed to like it. It went up way before our album had come out, so at that point I’m not sure that people had ever heard Pheebs sing more than the odd chorus backing vocal. I don’t think she’ll mind me saying that she had a bit of a freak out before hand, and there were times where we were going to scrap the video entirely - but I’m so glad we didn’t and the positivity which came in it’s wake was all the re-assurance we needed going forward. From there, people started asking for it at shows, to which we always responded with a resolute ‘naa’, before changing the subject. But after a while we got fed up with disappointing people and figured out a full band version. The history of this version kicks off with a lot of ‘ugh… this doesn’t work, why are we bothering’, before our big eureka moment. We’ve essentially borrowed the ‘quiet to loud’ arrangement of Pixies song we’d murdered so long ago, and with the sludge of a badly equipped rehearsal room, it sounded like a big fuzzy, euphoric Nirvana song. We eventually started weaving it into our live set for the festivals we were playing and our album release tour. I totally love not having to sing during the chorus since I get to thrash about; living out pre-pubescent pop-rock dreams and breaking free the shackles attached to my mic stand. The song’s crazy fun to play, and we wanted to put out something new, so we thought we’d record it. We booked in some time with Matt at Suburban Home and a month later we were in the studio. Then a month after that, i.e. last week, it went up online. And here we are.

I wanted to explain the series of events that led us to making what you can now hear on spotify, itunes and all good digital retailers (… ey?), because it’s got me thinking about the inherent connotations that a band recording a cover song comes with in 2016. I think there’s a certain stigma attached to the practice. I totally understand why it’s very easy to dismiss them as a quick and easy grab at attention. We’re all in this clickbait sinkhole together, and believe me when I say that I’m as cynical as the next guy. But when you view everything through that lens, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it’s really just a bit of fun. We thought it was important to document our version, as the memories attached to playing the song at those shows are worth keeping, hopefully those who came out to a gig over the summer will agree. Regardless, we’re super proud of it and want to give thanks to everyone who’s had a listen so far! We're off on tour to Europe next week and I can't wait to escape London.

- Rich

WordsRich Mandell