|Photo by Jason Stoff|
September 9th and 10th marks the fifth annual An Under Cover Weekend, a celebration of live music at The Firebird where local bands cover their favorite artists/bands. The rules surrounding the event are simple: be awesome, don’t be obscure, and play the hits. And while the awesome local bands will be pounding out covers all weekend long, these aren’t cover bands. Nope. These are some of the best local musicians who, on any other night, would be playing their original songs.
Next Friday’s opening band, Tight Pants Syndrome, will be playing with another local band, Paper Dolls, as Electric Light Orchestra. Now, I’ll be honest — I had to Spotify ELO to get up to speed with their tunes. Yeah, I knew some of them. You do, too. And you’ll sing along next Friday.
We checked in with Brian McClelland of Tight Pants Syndrome before his band’s AUCW performance.
1. The billing of your set is Tight Pants Syndrome Vs. Paper Dolls, which would suggest some kind of competition. Am I on the right track here? Explain to us what this is about.
That’s really just a fun way of pairing the two. Although if there was a competition between the two outfits, the only true winners would be those in the audience with ears.
2. How exactly did you choose ELO as the band you wanted to cover?
When we started discussing this (months and months ago), ELO was the only band that immediately made sense. We’re huge Jeff Lynne fans. We’re talking about the guy who the remaining Beatles went to when they wanted a producer to finish those John Lennon demos for the Anthology stuff. Not to mention the guy in the Traveling Wilburys that wasn’t Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, or George Harrison. A true pop genius and a seriously endearing dork. How could Tight Pants Syndrome and Paper Dolls not love the guy?
3. Take us through a practice session for your cover set. How long does it take to learn the songs? What are the most difficult challenges? Who gets to choose the songs to play?
We’ve been rehearing for AUCW at an unusual location — in the spacious common area of the Groove Agency offices on Brentwood, where TPS’s Paul Bordeaux works. Groove is actually now in the process of moving into a new space in Chesterfield, but they’ve been nice enough to allow us to rehearse in their newly vacated offices on Brentwood.
Most of us were pretty familiar with the tunes, so it really only took two or three rehearsals to start coming together. As you can imagine, though, ELO’s vocal arrangements and orchestral string arrangements were a fun challenge to properly pull together. Luckily our mini-string section — cellist Cathie Degler from Paper Dolls and our pal Brien Seyle from the Rats & People Motion Picture Orchestra on violin — kicks quite of bit of ass.
As for song selection, when we decided to combine both bands we felt it was imperitive that everyone involved was able to have an equal say in creating the set list. Each of us, eight in all, independently submitted our top three choices, luckily resulting in a list of only nine tunes that we eventually heartbreakingly whittled down to eight. (BTW: The connection between TPS and PDs? We both are lucky to share Jenn Malzone on keys and vocals.)
4. The goal of AUCW weekend — as I see it — is to not only pay tribute to great bands, but to showcase our local talent. What does AUCW mean to you?
Definitely — as much as we’re huge ELO fans and are excited to pay tribute to our heroes like this, we’re also quite excited to be able to showcase our two bands with a set of material that really highlights our strengths. Hopefully people will see what we do with these wonderful pop songs and be turned on enough to maybe buy a record or like us on stupid Facebook.
5. Finally, can you let us in on what to expect during your set, or at least give us a few hints?
Sweet, sweet harmonies, wicked strings, stupid lights, and the kind of romance that only a bubble machine on full blast can provide.