VARIOUS ARTISTS – THE COVID VERSION SESSIONS – EP

VARIOUS ARTISTS – THE COVID VERSION SESSIONS – EP

Fierce Panda RecordsPRESS RELEASE

Release Date: 24th February


https://orcd.co/covidversionsessions

The Tunes:

1 MOON PANDA ‘Call It Fate, Call It Karma’ (by The Strokes)

2 DESPERATE JOURNALIST ‘The Fear’ (by Pulp)

3 GHOST SUNS ‘Hurt’ (by Nine Inch Nails)

4 JEKYLL ‘Nightporter’ (by Japan)

5 CHINA BEARS ‘Hackensack’ (by Fountains Of Wayne)

6 NATIONAL SERVICE ‘Last January’ (by the Twilight Sad)

A million shiny moonbeams back, ie on February 24th 1994, the fierce panda label was born, blinking in the bright bar lights of the Blue Posts pub on the corner of Hanway Street and Tottenham Court Road with the release of the ‘Shagging In The Streets’ compilation EP.  Now we celebrate our 27th birthday in rockdown lockdown and with this, our 485th release, bulging with another six tracks of coolly twisted alt.pop.rock delight and doffing its hat to the heroic workings of the NHS.

Slightly fewer shiny moonbeams ago, ie on February 24th 2020, there was heard the distant rumble of thunder on the coronavirus horizon: seven deaths in Italy today, a couple of thousand fatalities worldwide. No need to panic. In a week’s time Doctor Boris will be bumbling around the Royal Free Hospital freely shaking hands with ill and sundry. Then it will be time to motherfucking panic.

Back in the resulting covid-stricken spring of 2020, when the growing global pandemic ensured that the playing of gigs suddenly became as feasible as the flying of pigs, fierce panda asked a selection of its newly domesticated acts to choose a favourite tune by a.n.other band with which to rockdown in lockdown. These covers would form the Covid Version Sessions, informal home recordings simply designed to capture the unsettling mood of the moment and destined to end up on YouTube.

But the malady lingered through the summer heatwave. Come the autumn those grand beach days out and Mediterranean hols came home to roost and the panda Covid Versions started popping up on the streaming services: woozy Cali / Dane dreamboats MOON PANDA took The Strokes’ ‘Call It Fate, Call It Karma’ outside for a big cosmic cuddle in September. Then came DESPERATE JOURNALIST’s fearless lunge at ‘The Fear’ by Pulp, GHOST SUNS’ glowering electrostab at Nine Inch Nails’ classique ‘Hurt’ and JEKYLL’s non-jokey journey through Japan’s ‘Nightporter’. 

CHINA BEARS finished off the year with ‘Hackensack’, their chilled tribute to covid casualty Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne. NATIONAL SERVICE kicked off 2021 with a thorough deconstruction of ‘Last January’ by The Twilight Sad, by which point little could we foresee that nearly a year on new mutations of the virus would be causing even more concert-free consternation.

All six covers are now collected together on ‘The Covid Version Sessions’ digital EP and released on our 27th birthday on February 24th. The Blue Posts pub has long since been transformed into a Boots chemist but the funny little fierce panda label growls gently on…

www.fiercepanda.co.uk

‘THE COVID VERSION SESSIONS’ EP IN THE BANDS’ OWN WORDS

1 MOON PANDA ‘Call It Fate, Call It Karma’ (by The Strokes)

Singer Maddy says: “We were all just sitting in the barn jamming and then I started singing that song because I’ve always loved it and then everyone else just started playing along. After the first time we played it through we all thought, ‘That went well! Let’s do it again and record it.’ It was really spur of the moment and I think we only played it through twice. It was one of those times where it just felt right and happened without a lot of thought or planning.”

2 DESPERATE JOURNALIST ‘The Fear’ (by Pulp)

“We are all fans of Pulp in the band, but my personal favourite album of theirs is ‘This Is Hardcore’,” explains singer Jo. “It’s where Jarvis’s talent for the great observational lyric meets a cracking in his writerly facade, and the parallels between all the unusually personal angst in the songs and the death-of-the-Britpop-party cultural landscape of the UK at the time add up to a sublimely melancholic and relatable whole. It’s my go-to hangover record so (as bassist Simon says) I know it like the back of my hand. Anyway our friend Kevin kept suggesting we do a cover of ‘The Fear’ every now and again and it finally made sense in April what with the entire world slowly supernovaing into oblivion around us, all shut in our houses, so we had a go, because there was nothing else to do.” 

3 JEKYLL ‘Nightporter’ (by Japan)

“Having never committed a cover song to record before, we really wanted our first attempt to be something special,” says singer Joel. “‘Nightporter’ by Japan is a song I just always remember being there during my life and its hypnotic melancholy has always mesmerised me. The ethereal, Satie-esque piano, David Sylvian’s darkly-dreaming lyrics, and the sonic world-building are a huge inspiration on our own songwriting, and with us all isolating in our hometown of Blackpool, the sentiment of ‘Nightporter’ felt particularly resonant. Every single sound you can hear on the track was recorded on our phones, from our separate homes, and mixed by our drummer, Liam. The reception to the cover was overwhelmingly positive and even the most ardent Japan fans let us know how much they loved it.”

4 GHOST SUNS ‘Hurt’ (by Nine Inch Nails)

“Making music together as Ghost Suns, we never thought of covering songs up until that lockdown happened. This song has always been special for us. The lyrics, the chords that could literally cut your heart out and leave it in the street…it was almost too easy.  We just love this song so much, it was easy for us to agree on it. The lyrics have this sense of subjectivity that we love to work on in Ghost Suns songs.  We also wanted to bridge the Nine Inch Nails original song with the legendary cover by Johnny Cash, while keeping our sound. Eventually the song starts off slow, fragile and bare. We thought that was emphasizing the theme of the song, the fact that we all suffer from ourselves and bring others in our destructive path.”

5 CHINA BEARS ‘Hackensack’ (by Fountains Of Wayne)

“As a band this is our first attempt at a cover so this was something new and challenging for us,” says guitarist Frazer. “We recorded it all remotely from where we are isolating over lockdown 2, which was also a new experience for us, and we’re really happy with how it’s turned out.  As a teenager I discovered Fountains of Wayne through hearing their song ‘All Kinds Of Time’ on one of my favourite TV shows Scrubs, which lead to me listen to their album ‘Welcome Interstate Managers’ and discovering ‘Hackensack’.  After hearing about the tragic death of Adam Schlesinger in April I re-listened to that album and ‘Hackensack’ just hit in such a different way, it’s a great song and it resonates deeply with a few of us in the band by having to move back to our home town due to the pandemic after being away for a few years.”

6 NATIONAL SERVICE ‘Last January’ (by the Twilight Sad)

“Lead singer Fintan showcased a solo performance of this Twilight Sad classic during the initial lockdown period. After getting the nod from Twilight Sad lead singer James Graham at the end of 2020, National Service guitarist Iain Kelly set about fashioning a reimagined version of the tune, piecing together various offcuts of studio recording, drum tuning, rehearsal noises and ambient sounds from deserted London streets. The other members contributed new remotely recorded parts to create a heavily-orchestrated, sedately-ambient take on the original’s tormented pangs of alienation, isolation and stasis that provide the perfect soundtrack to a hermitic and troubled year.” 

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