Wes Anderson, Elk City and The Rolling Stones


Written by Melz Durston
16 Friday 16th May 2014

Wes Anderson will be setting sail on the Queen Mary 2 leaving New York on June 13th alongside actors Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman.  Due to arrive into London on June 20th on the back of his latest work The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Tickets start at £1,099 for an onboard screening of the film.  Peanuts, we're sure you'll agree.

Elk City, based out of New Jersey, have released two albums to date, and contributed cover songs to various compilation tribute albums released on Connecticut-based label American Laundromat Records.  They return this year with their latest album and preceding that, is their interpretation of a Rolling Stones track, Play With Fire to be included on the upcoming Wes Anderson tribute record.

The collaborative record, a tribute to Wes Anderson, a film director who has inspired American Laundromat Record's Managing Director, Joe Spadaro.  The compilation also features Kristin Hersh (Throwing Muses, 50 Foot Wave), Juliana Hatfield, Sara Lov and Tele Novella.

Ray and Renee spoke to Melz shortly after the recording of their cover of the Smiths song, I Know It's Over for the previously released tribute album to the Smiths, on American Laundromat Records in 2011

What do the Smiths represent to you?

Renee: I was introduced to the Smiths by Ray and I loved them instantly. I was captivated by Morrissey's melodies.

Ray: I regard The Smiths as one of the most important bands of the alt 80's. Peers of The Cure and R.E.M, yet completely unique.

Where did their music fit into your lives?

Ray: I got into The Smiths in 1987, just after they had broken up. The first day I heard Strangeways, Here We Come I listened to it over and over again. Well into the night. They had a shimmering sound that had such a cool contrast to the sarcastic lyrics.

Has your creative process differed from when you recorded your cover of The Cure's Close To Me?

Ray: We have a new bassist, Martin Olson, but our approach was similar.

Renee:  It's was similar for me too. I like to play with the song a bit and the entire band fleshes out a few different versions.

When performing a cover, do you get into a 'role' and recreate the original artists' persona, or do you totally create from new and start from scratch?

Renee: I create from a new point and start from scratch.

Ray: The fun part is trying to embody the song and forget the original completely. It should feel like we wrote it.

Do you think there is a future for cover records?

Renee: I so want originals to remain popular because Elk City mostly writes and records original music, but sometimes I do wonder if the public's ear isn't as open-minded to listening to new music as it used to be, mostly because we listen to and buy music differently today.

Ray: When a song is well written it can be performed in so many different ways. There is room for any and all.

I LOVE your cover of REM's Everybody Hurts, but was this a hard one to crack (in terms of the public's acceptance?)

Ray: Thanks! That one was mostly hard because we were wondering what Michael Stipe would think if he heard it. No thought was given to what the public would think.

Renee: It wasn't a stretch for us to do Everybody Hurts. We made it our own in a very natural way.

Who next might you want to cover?

Renee: I would love to cover a song by Billy Squire.

Ray: That's a fun idea!

And, who would you be most honoured to cover an Elk City track?

Renee: I'd be honored if R.E.M. or Sonic Youth covered an Elk City track. That would certainly be different, don't you think?

Ray: Ooh...good answer. How about Portishead?

Why is it important for new artists to explore and produce their own interpretation of already-written tracks?

Renee: It's important because it's a way of introducing incredible music to a whole new audience who might have never explored that artist. I also believe that doing covers helps a band/artist broaden their horizons and learn new and different ways of songwriting.

So, preceding Wes Anderson's visit to the UK next month, today is the official release date of I Saved Latin!  A Tribute to Wes Anderson - released on indie label, American Laundromat Records.  Elk City feature, with their cover of Play With Fire, as they have featured on previous American Laundromat releases, including Please, Please, Please: A Tribute to the Smiths - where they covered I Know It's Over.  Also, a cover of the Pixies' Monkey Gone to Heaven.

Get your free stream copy of I Saved Latin!  A Tribute to Wes Anderson released on American Laundromat Records - here:  www.alr-music.com

You can follow Elk City here (they are due to release new material very, very soon):  www.elkcity.net

You can listen to Elk City's cover of the Rolling Stones track, which appeared on Wes Anderson's 2007 film, The Darjeeling Limited, here:  https://soundcloud.com/laundromat13/play-with-fire/s-9yxt4

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