Introducing for the very first time, it’s the Death Bus For Blondie Variety Hour!
About the Podcast: The ONLY Death Cab For Cutie podcast of its kind. Join your host Death Bus For Blondie as she recreates DCFC’s original music with voracious punk rock infused tenacity. We’ll also examine the current and emerging social trends that have caused this level of misplaced frustration and apathy that led to the creation of this project – all in an hour or less!
Listen to the Introduction episode now on Spotify or read on for the transcript below.
Season 1 Episode 1: Introduction (Transcript)
Welcome to Episode 1 of the Death Bus For Blondie Variety Hour – I’m your host, Death Bus, and before I really get underway with the podcast, let this first episode serve as your introduction to who I am, what this is, how I came up with such a unique and original title for this project, and what you can expect in all the episodes to follow.
I’m a big believer in offering as much transparency about what you’re investing your time in, so if you don’t like what you hear here today, you can probably go ahead and skip the rest of it.
This is a Death Cab For Cutie themed podcast but with a bit of a twist and I’ll explain.
About a year ago I started releasing full-band covers of Death Cab For Cutie songs that I recorded in my bedroom using my very small 2-microphone and 1-amplifier set-up that I’d been using for demo recordings for my original projects throughout the pandemic.
I kicked it all off with a cover of “Tiny Vessels” where I also released the live-acoustic videos to help better showcase how I develop my ideas from a bands original composition into my own creation.
You’ll hear those covers on this podcast.
I don’t do carbon-copy covers of any songs I release, or at least I haven’t yet, so if you’re looking for that you’ll be extremely disappointed in what I’ve done to your favourite Death Cab songs.
I love and appreciate all of the original arrangements and while every now and again I get the itch to learn a specific part or parts, I will sit down to learn them, but in the last couple years I’ve much preferred going about covers songs as thinking about them more like, “if I’d been in the studio with this band, what is something I would’ve liked to have tried,” using the main chords and lyrics as the foundation of whatever I create, or, “I wonder what this would sound like in a different genre entirely”.
It’s more creative, more interesting, and I’m always a little surprised with the end product as a result.
This seems as good a time as any to explain that this is the world I sort of came from – I started working in professional recording studios at 17 years old, later went to college for audio engineering and music production, and then slummed it out for various studios and different aspects of the music industry.
There’s a classic Seinfeld, “Yada, Yada, Yada,” I’ll throw in here instead of getting into the whole, “I then left the industry for reasons, avoided music almost entirely for years, and then came back in 2020 and have been slowly making my return to performing on live stages,” but… well, you know. Yada, yada, yada.
Back to the covers.
Each time I’d complete a cover, I was so excited with the result that I just went ahead and started posting them on my YouTube channel for people to listen to without giving much more thought to this project than that, but in the last couple months I’ve been thinking more and more about a better way to present these covers and beyond that, I started thinking more about why it was something I couldn’t seem to pull myself away from doing.
There is absolutely no shortage of other music I can be working on. I’ve got folders full of lyrics just waiting to be arranged into a full production and put out on record and other interests that keep trying to grab my attention, but even as I write these podcast episode scripts right now, I’m already thinking about the next cover I want to tackle.
One of the most important questions I think every creative person eventually asks themselves is not why they love doing whatever creative medium they’re driven towards. I don’t have to ask myself why I enjoy playing instruments or writing lyrics or singing songs – it’s inherent; it’s just a thing I enjoy doing so much that I keep doing it.
But there’s a moment between learning a creative medium and then making the decision to showcase it where that question of “why” becomes much more important to sit down with.
I watched an interview recently with the Death Cab guys – they were doing a performance for Audacy Live to promote the new album and one of the things that the band mentioned in the interview were the two social causes or issues that they try to highlight in addition to simply releasing new records.
If you want to watch that performance and learn more about that, I’ll be linking to it in the blog that accompanies this podcast on my website crookedforest.ca. [link: https://www.audacy.com/national/music/audacy-live-death-cab-for-cutie-acoustic-at-hard-rock-hotel-nyc]
They mentioned that they tend to focus more on voter registrati on (as evidenced with their Georgia EP release) and LGBTQ+ issues and that they do try to stay in those lanes.
I can understand this – it’s remarkably easy to polarize a potential fan or your entire fanbase by getting too… “social justice-y” for lack of better way to describe it and ultimately it really helps you as an original artist to hone in on the things that you’re passionate about drawing attention or driving change for.
And that’s the “why,” I’m referring to above – most bands who have seen long-term success in the music industry have one.
Now it would be remarkably easy for me as Death Bus For Blondie to omit this question entirely or piggy-back on something the band have said or work towards given that I’m using their original work to showcase my own ideas, but it also wouldn’t be terribly in line with my own character.
That’s not to say I don’t care about voter registration or LGBTQ+ issues, but it would be disingenuous of me to say that either of those things are what drive this project.
The reality for me is that there are too many issues that are of growing concern to me personally that I almost can’t even keep my head straight when I think about them all. Sure, some are weighed a little higher than others depending on the day, but they’re all of pretty high importance.
What I’ve found while listening to Death Cab For Cutie songs is that the biggest draw for me has and likely will always be the lyrics and what those lyrics make me think about.
This podcast serves to bridge the desire to talk about these things and showcase my own work in a unique way beyond just slapping them onto the internet.
Consider this portion of my introduction your disclaimer: there is no topic that I will shy away from on this podcast. The topics will probably vary quite wildly from episode to episode or even sometimes within the same episode. You probably won’t agree with everything I say or how I say them, but to me there are some issues that are too important to go unsaid or, for those that are being spoken about in the media or otherwise currently, they absolutely need further amplification.
I’m not trying to convince you of anything when I talk about, say, the predatory nature of the music industry; the lack of inclusion of women, POC and LGBTQ+ persons within it; why it’s actually a big deal that Bruce Springsteen tickets soared to over $5000 a ticket once Ticektmaster introduced their variable pricing scheme; that song lyrics actually do impact the thinking of the people listening to them; that you should should be incredibly concerned about the growing poverty rates within your respective cities, provinces, states or countries; or why you need to absolutely give more of a shit about women having access to safe abortions – just to name a few.
In each episode that follows this one I’ll be doing a couple things: playing my cover version of whatever Death Cab song I chose to manipulate, taking a look at its original composition and the choices I made when re-creating it, what I like about the song or what the lyrics say to me, and then whatever current issue or piece of interesting information I find relevant to that week’s episode.
Because the simple reality for me is that I’ve yet to just write a song for the sake of writing a song. There is always a story or experience attached to that song and something that I am trying to say about the world as I see it because that story deserves more attention, more amplification, to be told or retold – in that way, this cover project is no different.
Now how’d I come up with the name?
This may surprise you but given the inspiration for the songs, I chose to play on the band’s original name in order to fit the best name to my own project – I wanted a way to quickly tell people that I was covering Death Cab songs without outrightly saying so.
Of course, it wasn’t a decision I came to lightly, I had to think about all sorts of things… boats, trains, stuff people think are cute like puppies, there was something about airplanes for a while, but eventually I settled in on Death Bus For Blondie – because a bus is like a cab but fits more people and is more economically viable for most people, and I have blonde hair – also there was a popular artist named Blondie you might have heard of – I like Blondie.
Second disclaimer: this project is in no way affiliated with Death Cab For Cutie and is a not-for-profit project. If at any point it begins to generate revenue, those proceeds will go towards organizations whose missions and values align with my own.
I know that was a bit of a mouthful to take in but I hope it helps give you a sense of what you’re in for.
On Episode 2 I’ll be talking a bit about the band’s upcoming record and my cover of “Roman Candles”.
I’ll leave you with Death Cab For Cuties “I Will Follow You Into The Dark”.
Thanks for listening and see ya next time.