The ironic mustache calls attention to itself and the person growing it. It says, “I know I’m ridiculous and absurd, but I’m willing to play the part. I’m here to let you know that my owner lives free. Free from the mistakes of fashion and whimsy. This guy, with me on his upper lip, is a man apart. He knows. He knows!”
This EP, Covers is not an inside joke. This is not an ironic mustache. It is earnestly uncool.
Like so much music is to me, these are car songs. What percent of our lives do we spend riding or driving, listening to music?
I was thirteen years old the summer that “Fields of Gold” first started playing on the radio. I remember hearing it over and over, tooling around the Outer Banks of North Carolina in my brother’s maroon Isuzu Trooper. Something about that first chord can lift me a few inches off of the ground. I hope I approximated that feeling with my version.
I was eight when I first heard “One More Try.” George Michael was huge at that time. My mom bought a copy of Faith on tape. I can see the cassette sitting in the console of our Pontiac Grand Safari. She’s driving me to baseball practice. I love how dark this song is. For having started out in the unbearably saccharine Wham!, George Michael seems to be a complex, strange, and troubled dude. I like that.
I know that Toto is not the hippest band to come out of Los Angeles, but they’re certainly a thousand times better than Train . I do not sing “Africa” with a wink. I heard it for the first time in years on the Lite Rock station on the way Michael Libramento’s house to pick him up for band practice. I asked if he knew it while we loaded his drum set into my Camry. “That’s a great tune!” he said. From that point on, I ran into it everywhere, as you do.
Admittedly, Roxette pushes my insistence of sincerity to the breaking point. But bear with me. When I heard “Must Have Been Love” on the radio, I was ten years old, riding in the backseat of my sister’s light brown Honda Civic. We were coming home from the beach where, for the first time in my life, I had spent time with a girl I liked, that liked me too. The world felt open in a way that made my stomach hurt. A song about heartbreak, by a Swedish pop rock band, shrunk things down to a manageable closeness. The song can still give me goosebumps.
I recorded these songs in my bedroom, about a year ago, on a Roland VS 1680, an 8 track home studio recorder. The instrumentation is virtually the same on all of the songs: a Zoom drum machine, a shaker, a maraca, a tambourine, Fender Rhodes, a Telecaster copy electric guitar, a crappy acoustic, my fretless bass (played with a pick), and a digital delay pedal. I play an Eb horn and trumpet on “Fields of Gold” and “One More Try.”
The sound quality of this recording is definitely lo-fi, but it feels right to me. I’ve spent thousands of dollars of my and other people’s money in recording studios for cleaner, “better” recordings. I’ve obsessed for months and years over mixing and mastering records. It’s nice to just put out something raw and unforced. If you think it sounds like shit, then don’t listen to it.
I’ve tried, over and over, to do something big with music. Covers is something small but sincere. I hope you like it. Thanks.