When a band or artist puts out a cover song or album, it is usually met with great skepticism upon first listen. Sometimes the track(s) can fall flat stacked up next to the original and sometimes it can exceed expectations. What the band no:carrier has been able to accomplish with their latest EP, Ghosts of the West Coast, is put an entirely unique and new set of spins on a couple of classic songs about California, and do so with excellent results. With the use of a different singer for each track, the EP has plenty of twists, turns and most importantly, is appealing to the ear. We spoke with Chris Wirsig, the keyboardist and vocalist for the band about the new EP:
Me: How did the band come up with the four covers for the new Ghosts of the West Coast EP?
Chris Wirsig: After moving to San Francisco three years ago, I felt at home once, mainly thanks to all the nice people. But over time, I also realized the darker underside of the golden state. Of course every state, every country has a darker underside, but there are so many great and melancholy songs about California that I just had to work on some of them in the studio. I like re-working older songs that have a special meaning for me, like the ones we released on the EP, and bringing out their darker side. For example “The Boys Of Summer”: Most people probably only see it as a summer song, not realizing that it has a very melancholy and a bit creepy atmosphere to it.
Me: Having four different singers each sing a track on the album is a very unique approach to recording an album. What criteria were used in choosing the singer for each song?
Chris Wirsig: Cynthia (Weschselberger) and I felt that a cover version project, with all its different songs and their different vibes, could use different voices to interpret them. And as Cynthia also sings in an Irish folk band it was a sure thing for her to sing “She Moved Through The Fair”. I met all our guest singers through West Coast Songwriters, a great association for songwriters and producers on the U.S. west coast. I immediately liked their voices and chose them for the songs accordingly: Lauralee’s husky voice was perfect for “Room With A View”, for “California” – the song in which Belinda Carlisle sings about her love/hate relationship with Los Angeles – we chose a real L.A. singer with Melissa Harding, and as “The Boys Of Summer” is sung by a male protagonist who seems to be a bit edgy, Kalib DuArte’s harder vocals also were an immediate fit.
Me: no:carrier seems to have members located in different cities and even different countries. Does the distance between band members make the communication process difficult for the band?
Chris: It’s not a big problem, really. Cynthia and I usually record new vocals when I am in Germany or when she’s in the U.S. And of course we talk about all band stuff via Skype. Sometimes the logistics can be a bit of a challenge, but I guess every band has logistic challenges every now and then.
Me: Explain the Electro Noir Pop genre. Are you in a total class of you own with this style of music or are there any other artists or bands you have emulated to find your current sound?
Chris: The term “Electro Noir Pop” was coined by a journalist once and I immediately liked it as it somehow described what we are doing. It’s not the usual electro pop or synth-pop, but it incorporates elements of these genres combined with other styles. There are some other bands calling their music Electro Noir Pop, so we’re not the only ones. Of course, there are artists we like and who are great inspirations—mine go from dark pop and electronic bands like OMD, Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails to artists like Queen, David Bowie, Gary Numan, Jean-Michel Jarre and lots more.
Me: Your last tour took you to The Viper Room in Los Angeles. What was it like to play such a legendary venue and are there any current tour plans coming up?
Chris: To play the Viper Room was totally awesome. This club has so much history and we really were honored to play there and I hope to return there one day. It’s a cozy club with a great atmosphere. At the moment we only have one full show this year on September 24th at the Neck Of The Woods in San Francisco. This will be a special night as we will have our guest singers from the EP with us on stage, Cynthia is coming from Germany, and we will have two more great SF bands, Kalib DuArte’s Audio Terrorist and Vicereine, opening for us.
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