Annette Brown, Lifetime The story of June Carter Cash comes to life in the…
- Posted on Apr 9th 2010 3:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
Asked what he, a longtime rock aficionado, looks for in a cover version, Nada Surf frontman Matthew Caws tells Spinner it's all about song selection.
"My favorite covers are the ones where the song is really well-chosen, like when the Pretenders covered a couple of Kinks songs," Caws says. "'Stop Your Sobbing' and 'I Go to Sleep' are two songs that I think were hidden classics. The Kinks version of 'Stop Your Sobbing' was kind of confusing and not really -- I don't know the right word -- the right feeling. The Pretenders one feels like it grew that final bit. And I'm not making any comparisons to us; I'm just saying as a listener, that's what I like."
In recording ''If I Had a Hi-Fi,' Nada Surf tweaked some tunes and played others more or less down the middle. If Caws was hesitant to mess with the source material, he reminded himself the best covers are sometimes those that sound nothing like the originals.
"[One] cover that I was thinking of in my mind when I was asking, 'Can I change a chord in that Depeche Mode song?' was Nina Simone doing [Bob Dylan's] 'Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues,' which is really great," Caws says. "It sounds like she wrote it."
While much of the album finds Nada Surf in its usual power-pop comfort zone, Caws says the band tried to avoid simply playing songs faster and heavier, as the Ataris did with their 2003 remake of Don Henley's 'The Boys of Summer.'
"I tend not to like straight-up power-punk covers of things, even though we risk doing that a little, because we are, on a certain level, a garage band," Caws says. "I do like crunchy guitars and hitting stuff straight and hard and stuff."
Now that Nada Surf has been around for nearly two decades, groups are starting to cover its songs. One night, while perusing YouTube, Caws came across a video of Good Charlotte's Benji Madden singing 'Always Love,' from 2005's 'The Weight Is a Gift.'
"In the comments, it says, 'This is way better than Nada Surf's cover,'" Caws says with a laugh.