At the end of this week, Steve Gunn is releasing a new album, The Unseen In Between. He’s shared a few tracks from it already, including “Vagabond,” “New Moon,” and “Stonehurst Cowboy,” and while we wait for it to be officially out, he’s been busy resurrecting the career of cult Japanese folk artist Sachiko Kanenobu and, in his latest pivot, covering songs by the Misfits and Michael Chapman.
His two new covers come courtesy of Aquarium Drunkard“s Lagniappe Sessions performance series, and Gunn recorded both of them in Hollywood. The Misfits track he covered is “Astro Zombies,” from 1982’s Walk Among Us. He also chose to take on his frequent collaborator Chapman’s “Among The Trees,” off 1970’s Window. (Gunn is producing Chapman’s next album.)
Here’s what he had to say about his Misfits cover:
Misfits were my first favorite band when I was a teenager. There’s a certain pop sensibility to their songs, and Glenn Dazing’s Elvis-like yodeling is actually quite melodic. For a punk band, I think he was one of the better singers. Their songs are also very catchy, which helped ingrain almost every lyric into my young mind. The ‘horror business’ aspect to their lyrics was a bit campy, which gave them some innocence to my little Catholic schoolboy ears, unlike some of the other punk and death metal coming through my little foam headphones. I decided to cover ‘Astro Zombies’ in a kind of ‘country blues’ style to make an attempt to lighten the lyrics a bit, but I think it did the opposite. It’s an apocalyptic anthem, with zombies coming to pillage the earth, etc. Focusing on the lyrics and singing the words slowly gave the song a new heaviness. Listening back to this slowed down version, I realized that it’s pretty damn relevant to our current times. It wasn’t really my intention in my homage to the Misfits, but after the fact, it makes sense.
Listen to both of them over at the Aquarium Drunkard website.
The Unseen In Between is out 1/18 via Matador.