With coronavirus keeping the music scene on lockdown, Spacebomb House Band present a Scott Walker tribute that takes us straight to outer space.
The Spacebomb House Band is just what it says in the name: the house band for the Spacebomb Records stable of artists, and for the label’s recording studio. However, while their day job may be to act as a backing band for the label’s many talented signees, they do a lot more than that, and they proved that this month with their cover of Scott Walker‘s signature tune, “30 Century Man.”
Walker, who originally gained fame as a baritone pop singer and grew over the course of his 50-year career into a pioneer of avant-garde musical explorations, released “30 Century Man” on his 1969 album Scott 3. Originally a barebones tune consisting solely of acoustic guitar and vocals, the Spacebomb House Band’s version puts a spacey, psychedelic spin on the Walker original. Featuring a full rock n’ roll ensemble performing the music, it retains the spirit of the original through the Walker-esque baritone vocals of guest vocalist Andy Jenkins, a Spacebomb recording artist himself.
The idea for the cover came when the band’s guitarist, Trey Pollard (who also acts as the head of the studio’s publishing department), suggested the band produce more cover songs. The group developed a list of potential options, and bassist Cameron Ralston chose “30 Century Man.” From there, the group had to figure out how they wanted to reimagine the original. In the end, their basic approach became a straightforward rock n’ roll take with a sound deliberately reminiscent of the Jimi Hendrix Experience.
“I didn’t have any interest in trying to do a very true version of [the song],” said Ralston. “Just because that already exists in the world, and it was already done so well. It felt very futile, and I always heard it as a rock n’ roll song.”
The Spacebomb House Band version was recorded in just a few takes, with the entire band playing at once. They used no metronome, instead keeping time with each other.
“We wanted it to be just as fast as we could make it,” said drummer Pinson Chanselle. “[With no metronome] we didn’t have to adjust to the click.”
Chanselle says abstaining from a metronome also allowed them to “float” slightly on and off tempo in a very natural way, adding to the song’s freeform vibe.
The only part of the song not recorded simultaneously were Andy Jenkins vocals. Ralston says he had chosen Jenkins to contribute vocals from the beginning.
“For some reason I just always heard his voice [while imagining the song],” said Ralston. “There’s something about it that reminds me a little bit of Scott Walker, so I thought it would be a good way to connect the dots a little bit to the original version.”
Despite the song’s release date of April 10, it was actually recorded this past winter, well before the coronavirus epidemic hit America. While the musicians at Spacebomb say they can’t pull off that kind of session during the pandemic, each of them are finding ways to keep their creative juices flowing.
“I think for all musicians…this has been a real wakeup call. Everything has come to a halt,” said Ralston. “[But] we’ve been communicating pretty regularly… and just trying to stay creatively active, mentally with each other.”
On top of staying in touch, both Ralston and Chanselle have taken the time to produce whatever music they can inside the house. Ralston has been recording what he can while working on ambient music with friends. Meanwhile, Chanselle has been honing his percussion skills by recording raw drum parts.
“Anything you can do to keep that creativity and that energy stoked is positive right now,” said Ralston.
Top Photo: Cameron Ralston at Spacebomb Studios, via Spacebomb/Facebook