While spending time trying to conquer the audio of live-stream at-home performances, I got better acquainted with my friend Adam McDaniel, a local engineer and producer in Asheville, NC. Adam and I had known each other for years. When the band was a bit smaller I would often rent his studio, Drop of Sun, for pre-recording / pre tour rehearsals.
Summer 2020 was tough for many reasons. But Adam and his wife Emily opened their home to me and made it a safe space to create and let go. I told Adam I had an idea to record some covers and bring some of the band into the mix, or add other players. I wanted to record 80’s songs that I’d overheard walking the aisles at the grocery store, and I needed to laugh and have fun and be a little less serious about the recording process in general. I thought about completely changing some of the songs and turning them inside out.
One that came to mind was “Gloria”, by Laura Branigan. I’d heard Gloria for the first time at a family Christmas gathering and I was amazed at all the aunts who got up to dance. I imagined them all dancing and laughing in slow motion, and that’s when I got the idea to slow the entire song down and try it out in this way.
“Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats was a song that I was trying to do something similar with. I felt that it could be reinterpreted to be about this time of quarantine and the fear of being around anyone or having too much fun. It made me wonder, is it safe to laugh or dance or be free of it all for just a moment?
Right after we recorded these two, we were commissioned to cover “Eyes Without A Face” by Billy Idol for a film due to come out later this year.
I didn’t really connect to the rap part in the middle so we went for more of a tripped out instrumental instead.
“Forever Young” by Alphaville and “If You Leave” by O.M.D. were the two outliers. I really wanted to keep these close to the originals, but with a slightly different spin.
Most of these covers were tracked in the winter of last year. I’d come over to find Adam had set up 5 or so synthesizers, and we’d get lost on a part for a while messing with some obscure pedal I knew nothing about. We’d spend a good amount of time going through sounds before finding one or two, sometimes we’d get real weird and decide to just go with it.
I know it’s not really in my history to do something unintentional or just for the hell of it but my connection to these songs is pretty straightforward, I just wanted to have a little fun and be a little more spontaneous, and I think I needed to remember that I could!