16 BIT SESSIONS is where James tries to figure out all this Mega Drive music business by covering songs and trying out different sounds. This time, it’s a cover of Carpet by now-defunct but still-great Toronto punk band THIGHS.
Up top: We’re still gearing up for our show at the Horseshoe Tavern on March 16th!
THIGHS COVER TIME
Here’s the original!
I first heard of THIGHS through Jari, whose other band Motor Goat was being produced by one of the members of THIGHS, Brendan Howlett. Shortly after, we asked Brendan to produce us, and that is how you ended up with our amazing coloured vinyl single in your hands (What do you mean, you don’t own it? BUY NOW AND RIGHT THAT WRONG). He also subbed in on bass for our vinyl release party at Handlebar and slayed.
Brendan is a bit of a Toronto music renaissance man. It’s true! He builds custom guitars. He’s part of COFFEE GUITAR, the new coffee shop at Lansdowne where you can also get your guitar serviced. He produces at StuStuStudio. That he does all of these things well while being a genuinely good dude is both impressive and inspiring. Renaissance man!!
THIGHS has split up now and I didn’t get to see them play live, but by all accounts it was chaos and it sounds like a blast. Their music is frantic, challenging (in a good way) and it sounds free in as unpretentious a way as I can use that word. They just put out their last EP and it is as excellent as it is free to download.
It wasn’t easy to find a track I could do justice to and I started a couple where I got stumped (5/4 time aaaaaagh my brain), but I was determined to succeed and this one, Carpet, works pretty well for a quick cover attempt. It’s a song from their self titled album that drives itself fast, crashes into the bushes and then crawls after you.
My favourite part of this cover is the distorted bass that comes in during the last groove on the right channel. That sound came from running an FMdrive preset through my GENMDM Mega Drive. Because FMDrive’s parameters don’t match up 100% with GENMDM and I have such a terrible step converter that I think my European Mega Drive works strangely with the midi data anyway due to a voltage issue, the sound came out sounding nothing like how it was supposed to, and I love it. It’s got all of this grinding, high distortion to it that totally works for something like this. It’s only a couple of repeated notes but it makes it interesting.
The vocals on this one, like Fucked Up, were difficult to replicate in a meaningful way. I first started out with a sample of one of the Streets of Rage 3 characters fighting or dying and pitched it. However, because the frequency shifts so much in the sample it didn’t work out on its own. That sampler is still in there, but since THIGHS has somewhat of a discernible melody where Fucked Up felt purely percussive, I had to get some melody in there without compromising the sense of chaos – it needs to shriek! So I added some quick, shambolic arpeggiators to fuck things up, add the basic melody and make it sound chaotic. Does it work? I HAVE NO IDEA, but it’s at least one new way to try and inject some personality into the vocal side of things. I’m still learning here! That is the point, I think, depending on which side of my winter blues post last week you fall on.
Bonus pre-16 bit sessions cover: a while back I covered Motor Goat’s single WOAH WOAH, which Brendan also produced. Listen!!