Back in 1965, the world was, well, a bit mad. Not like the sane, accepting, gentle society we have today. Arf! The Vietnam War was in full swing, Mary Quant was helping the decade swing, and Martin Luther King was victorious in winning the right for African Americans to vote in the United States. Here in New Zealand, Waikato University opened, Mt. Eden prisoners rioted, TEAL became Air New Zealand and Ray Columbus and the Invaders won the Loxene Golden Disc Award for 'Til we kissed'. A shitload of classic albums were also released that year - The Who 'My Generation', The Byrds 'Mr Tambourine Man' and The Beatles second album of that year, 'Rubber Soul', were all set free into the world.
Now, over half a century later, Matthew Bannister, of Sneaky Feelings and The Changing Same, is on the verge of releasing his cover of The Beatles classic, entitled 'Rubber Solo'. Julian White (The Scones, Bitter Defeat) caught up with Matthew to find out more about the making of the album and the plans for its release.
JW: You have been a prolific songwriter for many years, and have an extensive back catalogue of original songs. But your upcoming release is a covers album. What is your general approach to covering other artists’ songs?
MB: With the Evolver and Rubber Solo albums it’s basically about using my knowledge as a Beatles fan to rearrange the songs in a style the Beatles might have done them. I try to leave the lyrics and melodies alone, but change the rest. Sometimes I take a lick from one Beatles song and apply it to another, like the Travis picking John uses on “Dear Prudence” and apply it to “Here There and Everywhere” on Evolver. On Rubber Solo, I borrowed the intro of Strawberry Fields for my cover of Girl. It helps that Logic Pro 10 now has mellotron sounds.
JW: What is it about Rubber Soul which attracted you to covering those particular Beatles songs?
MB: I dunno, I’d already done Revolver, and Rubber Soul kind of sits beside it. Sgt Pepper would have been too complex, plus it’s as much about the sequencing and sound effects as about the songs. White Album would’ve been too daunting. I guess I should’ve done Abbey Road, it would have been the most sensible move commercially. The early Beatles albums aren’t as well-known, although for my money, Hard Day’s Night is as good as they ever did. Rubber Soul has a few more naff songs than Revolver, like Run for your Life, but we turned into a sleazy glam-rock thing, which kind of suits it.
JW: You have called the album Rubber Solo. Do any other musicians perform on the album?
MB: Like Evolver, I did it all at home on my computer alone, it was kind of a stress relaxation project. The only difference is that this time I had Logic Pro 10 which has better sounds than what I had for Evolver. At the same time, I’m worried that better sounds give you too many easy options. But live, I have a full band, with Albert (my son) on bass, Bruce Dennis on drums, Nick Braae on keys and Mef Storm on guitar and vocals.
JW: Have you employed any special musical instruments?
MB: Nope, bit of mandolin here and there. Overall, it’s a bit mellower than Evolver. More of a 70s feel.
JW: Is there a track you feel particularly proud of, and if so, why?
MB: I borrowed the intro of Strawberry Fields for my cover of Girl. That works well and it’s pretty funny. I’m also pleased with If I Needed Someone, which I converted into 7/4 meter. I’d been singing in World Voices choir with Kristoff Maubach and we did a lot of Eastern European folk, which is often in weird time signatures. So I was pleased to be able to apply it to the Beatles.
JW: Tell us about the recording and production process. Where and when was it recorded? Any special techniques used in the production process? In what formats will it be released? When will it be available?
MB: I did most of it in about a month in August 2017. I was on a kind of a roll. Later on I went back and made some adjustments. Some of the vocals were a bit rough (some of them still are). I just plugged into the computer, mostly – very boring! We decided to do a limited release on vinyl as no one buys CDs anymore. Here we were helped by the fact that there’s now a pressing plant in NZ again (Holiday Records) as the cost of pressing overseas is prohibitive. It’s still pretty dear. It should be out mid-October, fingers crossed.
JW: You are planning to tour the album in late October and early November. What are the dates, who will be accompanying you, and how can we get tickets?
MB: The plan is to release Rubber Solo in October and perform it live with a full band in Hamilton (Nivara, Thurs Oct 31), Auckland (Wine Cellar, Sat, Nov 2, w/ Superturtle), Whanganui (Luckys, Fri Nov 8 Wellington (Third Eye, Sat Nov 9, w/ Terror of the Deep).
The album will be available on CD and in a limited edition of 150 vinyl copies. A splendid time is guaranteed for all. Tickets at Undertheradar. Plus Hamish Kilgour (of the Clean) will now be performing at the Hamilton and Whanganui gigs. That was a last-minute thing, but Danny from Powertool’s played with us a few times and with Hamish too, so he contacted me.