Cover songs are a dicey subject. On the one hand, you got your bands that write their own awesome shit and play other people's tunes as either a nod to great music or as a fun escape from their own material. But on the other, you got your bands that get known for playing other people's material. This is fine for bar bands, but--and maybe I'm crazy--I always wince a bit whenever I hear a cover being released as a single. To me, that screams desperation and depression because no one who writes songs wants to be known for a cover.
Luckily, the monthly event known as Album Attack falls into the former. Spearheaded by Jesse Wilder, the idea is simple: Take local musicians and tell their sorry asses to get on stage to perform an entire album by another group. What's really cool is that Wilder doesn't pick active, complete bands to play--he chooses a group of local musicians who he thinks will do the music justice and throws them together. So basically, you're getting to see a unit that has never played before and probably never will again.
This month's Album Attack just so happens to be a performance of Rocket from the Crypt's Circa: Now!, aka one of my favorite records by my all-time favorite band. I was hesitant when I first heard that someone other than San Diego's golden children would be performing the gospel, but Wilder has put together an impressive cast of musicians from groups such as Reel Big Fish (although drummer Carlos de la Garza will always be the guy from F.Y.P to me), Fast Dragon, the Bumpers and Go West Young Man, along with Alex Hernandez, the man who puts the "Alex" in "Alex's Bar."
All I ever wanted to do was slam dunk a basketball or play bass in Rocket from the Crypt, but neither of those happened (not yet anyway!), so I guess I've got a tinge of jealousy that these dudes are going to get in front of an audience and pretend to be the best band ever. Then again, I wasn't much of a musician and I'd probably just mess it up. God knows I don't need that sort of pressure, so instead I think I'll just order a drink and let these guys do their thing.
OC Weekly (Ryan Ritchie): What is Album Attack and how did it begin?
Jesse Wilder: I've been in countless bands that make original music and I love doing that more than anything, but what I started to realize is how uninterested the population was in it these days. It's pretty disheartening to lay your soul out there for people who would rather be hearing their favorite band from yesteryear. Mind you, this is not why I started Album Attack. Album Attack surprisingly is an escape from the horrible and soulless cover songs that you hear on a regular basis. I participated in the first one (Neutral Milk Hotel) and I can't tell you what an amazing experience it was to all members. We still can't stop talking about it. Point being, the members involved in each one are only the diehards, the true fans that just happen to play music well.
I can't wait for the Rocket one to unfold. These guys are seriously electric about it and if you're there to judge, good luck on shooting down someone who loves the album just as much if not more than they do. They'll be rubber. You be glue.
What sorts of cool Rocket-inspired nicknames have you come up with?
Al-X: Al- X, French Guy, Carlio Chupacabra, Juan Reis, A-Paula-9 and Tavi-2000.
Did you chose Circa:Now! because RFTC had only one horn and you couldn't find two horn players in Long Beach? Or was it because the opportunity to play "Don't Darlene" live was too good to pass up?
Juan Reis: We couldn't find a drum machine to cover Nitzer Ebb, so it was this or nothing.
French Guy: I chose Circa:Now! because it had the most vocal overdubs and sexual innuendoes.
Juan Reis: P.S. Nitzer Ebb is Spanish for "werewolf vagina."
French Guy: It sounds more German. I believe it means "nice abs."
Most importantly, what will you be wearing?
Juan Reis: Cheese cloth.
Al-X: I thought we were performing in a suit of house paint?
French Guy: Tiger pelts.
Are you so into the record that you'll play the four bonus tracks from the Swami re-issue?
Juan Reis: Maybe you should be playing!
Do people with the tattoo get in for free?
Juan Reis: Yes. People with a Nitzer Ebb tattoo get in free... to the bathroom.
French Guy: That sounds like a nice perk.
Are you only sticking with Circa:Now! or will we hear "If the Bird Could Fly" or "Light Me?"
Juan Reis: DUDE! GO TO THE SHOW ALREADY!!
How mad are you going to be when I get really drunk, flail my arms in front and eventually try to grab the mic to sing back-ups on "Glazed?"
Juan Reis: I will save you a spot.
French Guy: How mad are you going to be when you get floated across the room like Eddie Vedder in the "Alive" video?
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Did you know I went to RFTC's final show and cried? Only half of that is true, but you know what I mean. I did, however, find a massive sack of weed on the ground. I guess that's not really a question.
Juan Reis: Dude, I was with you, you just don't remembers.
French Guy: I was the dude dressed as a ninja. Ninjas never cry. They just multiply.
Album Attack featuring Rocket from the Crypt's Circa:Now! at the Prospector, 2400 E. Seventh St., Long Beach, (562) 438-3839. 9 p.m. Sat. $5. 21+.