Cover To Cover EP
Bandcamp/YouTube, 2021

1. I Apologize (Hüsker Dü)
2. I Only Want To Be With You (Raymonde/Hawker)
3. Into Your Arms (Robyn St. Clare)
4. She's So Young (Moe Berg)
5. Pulp (Tom Morgan)
6. Take The Skinheads Bowling (Camper Van Beethoven)
7. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront (Pollard/Sprout)

Written by Robert Pollard and Tobin Sprout
Originally performed by Guided By Voices on ‘Propeller’

It is no stretch to say that we might not be the band we are without the looming influence of Guided By Voices. We’ve received lots of comparisons to them over the years, which is definitely nice and appreciated, but I always thought we lacked a certain “badass”-ness that GBV has, and DL is a much different kind of singer and melodicist than the good Father Pollard. But, we do write short songs with a premium on hooks and play-it-again-ability, we have setlists that break the 20-song mark, and we’ve definitely logged a lot of hours in the basement bent over four-track recorders, at times surrounded by empty beer cans, so I get it. But we always thought that doing a cover of one of their songs would be a little too on the nose. We thought about covering ‘Atom Eyes’ from ‘Under The Bushes Under The Stars’, which mitigates the full-on influence aspect by being a Tobin Sprout-led track, but even that seemed iffy. There’s a great scene in the great GBV documentary ‘Watch Me Jumpstart’ where RP and TS are hanging out and in an empty room, Toby playing guitar and Bob sitting on an amp, and they play ‘14 Cheerleader Coldfront’, casual as hell and harmonizing like a pair of basement-dwelling angels. I hadn’t heard ‘Propeller’ when I first saw the doc, so this was my first exposure to the song, and there was something about the duo dynamic they presented that seemed very familiar to the one me and DL (also a fan of the tune and doc) had been cultivating with Lab Coast. So we learned it during our writing sessions and would play it for ourselves for fun or to get warmed-up. And somewhere along the way, we started to do the odd duo show, me on electric guitar and backing vocals and DL singing as usual, and for these sets we would dig out the songs we didn’t play with the full band, lay heavy on the harmony singing, and tackle various cover tunes we had up our sleeves. So finally there was a place for our version of this song.

Unlike the other covers in this batch, this one is played fairly faithfully to the original, although after listening to it again last night, some of the guitar strumming is different, and I think I dogged a few of the harmonies. Also, this track is recorded live, at one of the first few of our duo concerts. This one was - if my records are correct - from August of 2014, and we shared the bill with Sleepkit, opening for Hex Ray at what must have been their album release for their classic ‘Coin of the Realm’ CD. Thanks for listening.

Recorded live at the Commonwealth basement bar, Calgary, AB, August 27, 2014
Guitar, vocals by CD /// Vocals by DL

Written by David Lowery
Originally performed by Camper Van Beethoven on ‘Telephone Free Landslide Victory’

The Lab Coast version of this song was instigated by DL. I don’t think I even realized he was a fan of the band at all until he brought it up at a writing/recording session one night around 2016 or so. And truth be told, I had forgotten all about this song. I discovered CVB in my early 20s while I was still working at HMV. When I started working at Hot Wax Records in the early ‘00s (I worked at both stores for a short time), fellow employee and great friend Lorrie Matheson was responsible for turning me on to a ridiculous amount of good music (Elvis Costello, XTC, Joe Jackson, to name a few) and at some point in his tutelage, Cracker came up, and that rabbit hole resulted in my awareness of their predecessor-band Camper Van Beethoven. (When I was a young teen, I won a copy of Cracker’s then-new album ‘The Golden Age’ in a contest, so they had been lodged, benignly, in my mind for a long time.) Also, around this time, ex-Calgarian avant-provocateur Eugene Chadbourne would visit Calgary regularly and diligently restock Hot Wax with copies of his handmade CD-Rs, one of which was a collaborative project called Camper Van Chadbourne. So I needed to hear this Camper Van Beethoven band, and at the time the easiest way to get a hold of their earlier material was through a super-cheap, bright orange 5-disc box set of their pre-major label work, which I got through HMV. Getting a whole run of albums from a band at once can sometimes result in merely cursory listens to each album instead of the immersion that one-at-a-time can encourage, and this was kind of one of those situations. On top of that, I didn’t really like the majority of the music anyway - it was a little too eclectic for me at the time, and the disparate threads they were weaving together were not necessarily made of material I was naturally drawn to. So it got filed away. When DL brought the song into that session, I was eager to see what he’d picked up on in their music, and when we listened, it turned out I had no memory of this song to speak of, but it was obvious that this song was in the right wheelhouse.

It is the only tune from ‘Cover To Cover’ that was fully recorded on the Tascam 388, but it was, again, finally mixed in late 2019/early 2020. We changed the feel a bit, and the drum part is a combination of a drum machine kick drum pattern with live snare overdubbed, peppered with shakers where hi-hats might have been used. In keeping with our attempts to treat covers like our own material, there’s no violin, the lead guitar part was added throughout, and DL sings it more tunefully, with less of a detached air than Lowery on the original.

Recorded & mixed by Chris Dadge at Child Stone Studios, around 2016-2018
Guitar, bass, drums, percussion by CD /// Vocals by DL

Written by Tom Morgan
Originally performed by Smudge on various albums

The discovery of this tune and band come straight down the line followed after getting deeply into the details of the Lemonheads backstory. Main Smudge Tom Morgan was introduced to Lemonhead Evan Dando after an Australian tour with mutual friend Nic Dalton (see notes for ‘Into Your Arms’), and the two quickly became prolific songwriting partners. Their co-writes made up a lot of ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’ and continued on till ‘Car Button Cloth’. I worked for many years at Hot Wax Records in Kensington, and copies of various Smudge CDs could be found lining the shelves for the longest time. In the course of my Lemonheads research, I came across this band and suddenly realized that this was the same Smudge from those rows of neglected, sun-baked used CDs sitting under the front window of the store. So I snapped them up for myself and DL and quickly found a lot to love. There were a lot of great tunes on those CDs, and I can’t really recall why we chose this particular tune (it may well have been the chords were easy to pick out right away), but at any rate, with its whiff of obscurity and extreme catchiness, we considered this perfect cover song fodder and around 2011 it became the first non-original song to enter the live band catalog. In its earliest Lab Coast versions, it was played by the Monty Munro/Dice Parks/Henry Hsieh lineup, with myself on guitar and Monty on drums (he and Hsieh would trade off drum duties in that lineup). This band was pretty ramshackle at the best of times, and we would often play it (and many other songs) much too fast, and it wasn’t until the Samantha Smith/Hsieh/Bourne lineup that it got a coherent reading. But despite its full group origins, I decided to record this one by myself one afternoon as a proof of concept for a particular one-man recording technique I’d been wanting to try. This must have been around 2014-2015.

The song was recorded on a four-track (I’m not sure which one, it many have been a Yamaha MT4X, or maybe the Tascam 246, but it sounds more like the former… our tape archives are in need of a good sort) but the rhythm guitar, bass, and drums were recorded simultaneously. The Boss RC-50 loop station has discrete outputs for routing the three loop “phrases” it can store into different playback sources. So I played the entire song on guitar, then bass, into the looper and sent each of those out to a different amp in our practice space. I then mic’d up those amps and put two on the drums, and recorded myself playing along to the loop station playback, which sounded just like a band in a room. Vocals and guitar solo followed, and there we have it. This is the original mix from the four-track, with some light retouches done in the box as this EP was being prepped in late 2019/early 2020. Thanks to Chad VG for the recording idea.

Recorded by Chris Dadge at pre-Child Stone, around 2014 or so
Guitar, bass, drums by CD /// Vocals by DL

Written by Moe Berg
Originally performed by The Pursuit of Happiness on ‘Love Junk’

This is the one song on ‘Cover To Cover’ that we probably wouldn't have recorded ourselves if it hadn’t been for an outside prompt. In the fall of 2014, CKUA radio was doing an “Alberta Covers” project in which current Albertan acts would cover songs by classic acts originally from Alberta. We were originally asked to do a tune by Wes Dakus & The Rebels called ‘Sidewinder’, which was a cool tune but also instrumental. As a band defined by singing and songs, this seemed off, we saw a few others on the list that might work better: Jann Arden’s ‘Insensitive’ and ‘I’m An Adult Now’ by the Pursuit of Happiness. Arden is a well-known figure in these parts (it was tough to escape that tune, especially in Calgary, for a few years in the 90s) and I’d heard of TPOH before, read about them in ‘Have Not Been The Same’, and maybe even heard a tune or two, but I certainly wasn’t deeply familiar in any way. It turned out that ‘Insensitive’ was taken anyway, so we somewhat blindly went with ‘I’m An Adult Now’. DL and I sat down and listened to the tune to start learning it, and…. we did not like it. It’s kind of goofy with the sing/speak vocals, and I think we both blanched at the thought of DL singing the lyrics, so instead we checked out the rest of the album it’s on, ‘Love Junk’, and quickly became a fan of ‘She’s So Young’, a truly great tune. We got the OK to switch to that one and we were off.

Between Moe Berg and producer Todd Rundgren, the song featured some chords that are a little fancier than usual Lab Coast fare, so out of necessity, I kind of dumbed down their cool, jazzy chords and found something that I could actually play. We played a preset drumbeat from my childhood Tone Bank keyboard through a PA speaker, overdubbed some electronic tom fills, got Lab Coast live bandmember Samantha Savage Smith to sing some backing vocals, and I got to finally play an octave-doubled guitar solo. I think the bass line is a little different, too. It was recorded on a Tascam 488 8-track cassette machine that fall, and was released as part of CKUA’s on-air series shortly after. We eventually released that version of the cover on a little cassette EP we put out on Craft Singles, and in late 2019/early 2020 I remixed it for this set. Thanks to CKUA’s Elliott Garnier and Grant Stovel for asking.

Recorded & mixed by CD at pre-Child Stone, around 2014-2015
Originally commissioned by CKUA radio
Drum machine, guitar, bass by CD /// Vocals by DL /// Backing vocals by Samantha Savage Smith
Originally released on "Away From Here" EP on Craft Singles, 2015

Written by Robyn St. Clare
Originally performed by Love Positions, then The Lemonheads on ‘Come On Feel…’

The Lemonheads are held in high regard around here. We could have picked any number of songs to cover from this Evan Dando-led unit - and truth be told, I think ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’ would be our song-for-song favourite album of theirs - but this one was the first we tried, and also one of the easier ones (at least the way we ended up playing it). I didn’t realize initially that it wasn’t a Dando composition, but this news didn’t surprise me, as many of the great Lemonheads songs were co-writes or fully written by someone else (often Tom Morgan - more on him later). It was originally a song by Love Positions, whose membership included Lemonheads' Australian bassist at the time, Nic Dalton. The opening D chord is the only thing that is definitely true-to-original about our version, and the rest, as is our mode of covering, was felt out in the same way we would write our own songs. For the rest of it, we took some liberties with instrumental and sonic choices that we might not have for a recording we intended to use for our own songs, and if I’m remembering it right, the recording itself took place quickly over an evening.

The recording was done somewhere in the realm of 2014-15 on the 8-track Tascam 488, but thanks to the abovementioned liberated production choices, the mixing took much longer, and was eventually done on a computer near the end of 2019 and into early 2020. Thanks to Jonathon Wilcke for the extended loan of his little cello.

Recorded by CD at pre-Child Stone, around 2015 or so
Guitar, cello, percussion, backing vocals by CD /// Vocals by DL

Written by Ivor Raymonde & Mike Hawker
Originally recorded by Dusty Springfield, then The Tourists on ‘Reality Effect’

This song is one that a) is the most recent addition to our covers catalog and also b) falls the furthest outside our normal purview for cover songs. While most people are probably familiar with the Dusty Springfield version of this song (and a fine version it is), I first consciously heard it on the second album by The Tourists, which is the band that Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were in, pre-Eurythmics. I’m sure I’d heard the Dusty version in passing before, but this album is a kind of punk-lite, early new wave kinda thing, which probably brought it into focus for me a bit more, and, again, the melody just seemed like something I could imagine DL coming up with. (We also share a fondness for the similarly-named song by Hootie & The Blowfish, a connection that pleased us.)

The recording you hear here is one of the most streamlined productions we’d committed to tape (actually the harddrive - this is another of the few fully computer-based Lab Coast recordings) and came about at a time where I was starting get more interested in digital recording, having developed new requirements for flexibility and recall while beginning to work with a lot of other bands in my studio. The approach to learning this song also differed from a lot of our other covers, as I believe this one was learned from a chord sheet, necessitated by it being a somewhat more harmonically complex composition than both our songs and the others we’d covered to date.

Recorded by CD at Child Stone, around 2018-2019
Guitar, drums, bass, percussion by CD /// Vocals by DL

Written by Bob Mould
Originally performed by Hüsker Dü on ‘New Day Rising’

Although the recording of this tune is the most recent of the batch on ‘Cover To Cover’, this song has been kicking around the Lab Coast stables the longest, dating back to the days of the Pink House in Kensington and writing & recording entire album-ready tracks in a single night. I believe DL and I both came to this tune through our own investigations during our early 20s, but I’m not sure whose idea it was to record a version of it. What is clear in my memory, however, is the basic approach we took to learn the song, one that mostly stayed intact across all of these cover versions. Instead of the regular approach of sitting down with the recording and figuring out the chords, riffs, etc, I asked DL to just get familiar with the vocals only, enough so that he could sing it comfortably without accompaniment. And then on our chosen recording night, we proceeded in the style of a normal Lab Coast writing/recording session, which goes something like this: DL brings in a melody (usually the main vocal) and maybe a riff, and he sings it while I try to fumble around with different chords until the progression and structure miraculously reveal themselves. 90% of all Lab Coast songs have been written using this approach, and I like to think that it’s (a big) part of why we sound the way we do. Also, it was decided that we should only cover songs that - and this might sound funny - seem like they could be one of our songs. Not meant to be an overenthusiastic back on our own backs, this was more an acknowledgement that we don’t create in a vacuum and that we’re working in a grand tradition. If someone who’d never heard us or Hüsker Dü heard this track amongst a bunch of our originals, they wouldn’t be aesthetically snapped out of the flow. So, that’s what we did, and it seemed to work: we ended up with a slightly different form and chord sequence than the original, but also injected some of our more characteristic sonic elements into the mix.

An original four-track version from 2009-10 was recorded on the Tascam 246 in the Pink House, but ultimately it contained too many, er, quirks to be considered fit for public consumption. When the idea of putting out this EP got rolling in the latter half of 2019, we decided to re-record it, and the resultant version is far superior to the original. It is one of only a handful of Lab Coast recordings made entirely inside of a computer, and it was finished in early 2020. (Chris Dadge)

Recorded by CD at Child Stone, 2019-2020
CD: SK-5 drums, percussion, bass, guitar /// DL: vocals