Earlier this year, gothic drone-folk queen Marissa Nadler and Stephen Brodsky, frontman of the great metal-punk gnashers Cave In and Mutoid Man, joined forces, releasing the collaborative album Droneflower. On that LP, they covered two truly great ’90s songs that have absolutely nothing to do with one another: Guns N’ Roses’ “Estranged” and Morphine’s “In Spite Of Me.” Then they went on tour together, and they expanded their cover repertoire. Today, they’ve shared studio versions of a couple of the covers that they’ve been playing live.
First up, they’ve taken on Phil Collins’ eternally tingly 1981 smash “In The Air Tonight.” “In The Air Tonight” remains one of the saddest, heaviest songs ever to remain in constant radio rotation for decades. It’s Collins’ first-ever solo single, and it was already plenty dark in its original form. Nadler and Brodsky turn it into a doom reverie, stretching it to six minutes. The iconic drum break becomes a guitar-crunch, which seems oddly appropriate.
But lots of people have covered “In The Air Tonight.” These days, far fewer people are willing to take on “More Than Words,” the deathlessly squicky 1991 chart-topper from the metal-adjacent Boston band Extreme. Nadler and Brodsky have transformed it into a mesmeric goth hymn, and it is a weird thing to hear. Below, listen to both covers and read what Nadler has to say about them.
Steve and I both grew up in Massachusetts in the ’80s and ’90s. Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” came out in 1981, and it was the year that I was born. (As well as our newest Droneflower member, Emily Lee (Shearwater/Loma/Snake Oil), and Steve a few years earlier.) I feel that the massive hit really soundtracked my childhood and I know the others do as well. I have this long list of songs in the “would love to try to do this” category. As I’ve mentioned before, Steve Brodsky (and Emily) have made things really easy in that we share obsessive work ethics. We were lucky to bring producer Randall Dunn into mix our version, which was recorded on an extremely hot day at Steve’s apartment in Brooklyn.
“More Than Words” came out in 1990. at that time I was nine and fixated on MTV. It seemed like that video was on forever and had a nostalgic weight to me. I thought it would be really cool to cover it. We wanted to make a creepy, sexy version of both of these songs.