Matthew Bannister meets The Beatles
Matthew Bannister meets The Beatles: The Evolution of ‘Revolver’
We have a really special treat for you this week. Respected New Zealand songwriter/musician Matthew Bannister (Sneaky Feelings, the Dribbling Darts of Love, the Weather) has released his own take on the Beatles' much-adored (and for good reason too) album 'Revolver'. And he has reworked it beautifully.
('Evolver' by One Man Bannister is currently available here on the Powertool Records website (www.powertoolrecords.co.nz) , and at Alien Records, New Lynn.)
*For interviews, review copies and further information, please email Renee Jones: firstname.lastname@example.org
One Man Bannister ‘Evolver’
Powertool Records, August 2013
One of the best, if not the best, album of all time, according to many, the Beatles’ Revolver, issued in 1966, showcases the Fabs at the height of their powers, riding the rush of Beatlemania into the swoon of 1967’s Summer of Love. While some Beatles albums like Sgt Pepper sustain a mood better, Revolver is unparalleled in terms of sheer songwriting and producing creativity, from avant-garde weirdness to kiddies sing-alongs. But that’s the secret of their success– something everyone.
Matthew Bannister has been a Beatles fan since he was knee-high to a record player, starting with his parents’ copy of Sgt Pepper which they “bought to play at parties” in the late 60s. The Beatles are the alpha and omega of his musical universe, as you can hear in the music of Sneaky Feelings, the Dribbling Darts of Love, the Weather – all the bands he’s been involved since his early days in Dunedin. “I don’t think there would be a Dunedin Sound without the Beatles,” he says. “Everyone was into the 60s and writing perfect pop songs.”
And now you can hear it on Evolver, his reinterpretation of the Beatles’ greatest album, soon to be released on Auckland’s Powertool Records. The Evolver project started in 2011 after an abortive attempt to re-create the albums with a bunch of Wintec music students. “I started demoing the songs myself, changing things here and there,” reinterpreting the songs either in terms of other Beatles songs, their influences, or other artists whom they have influenced. Hence “Tomorrow Never Knows” has an early 90s Madchester indie dance feel, “Yellow Submarine” is cod reggae, “She Said She Said” becomes a folk-rock waltz, “For No One” an upbeat country number and so on.
Home-recorded, the album has a lo-tech feel, but this also allowed risks to be taken and divergent paths explored. “I took the melody and lyric as given, but everything else was up for grabs. So I changed the musical style and often the chord structures and harmonies, but not the actual tune, which is sacred, to me at least.”
It’s interesting how much the musical landscape has changed in the last few years, especially regarding copyright. It used to be okay to cover a song as long as you credited the author and publisher – these days you’re supposed to apply for a licence just to perform a song. Buskers beware. It also means that the album will not be available for digital download – you’ll have to buy a physical copy, just like the old days. And although re-interpretations of “classic” albums are fairly common now, this is the first time one artist has covered a whole Beatles album in a way that both remains true to the spirit of the original while also adding a new twist (and shout).
'Evolver' isn't even old enough to be home alone, but it has already picked up some great reviews:
Russell Brown on Public Address:
"I’ve always liked a good cover version. The reinterpretation of a song can expand its meaning, or just be fun. Matthew Bannister’s Evolver, a confident retelling of the whole of The Beatles’ best album, Revolver, does both...You can imagine he might have been daunted in taking on his heroes, but on Evolver the opposite is true. He seems relaxed, not intimidated by the material. The songs are thought through in interesting ways, sometimes, as he puts it, “in terms of other Beatles songs, their influences, or other artists whom they have influenced.”"
Graham Reid on
"Here Matthew Bannister (formerly of the Flying Nun band Sneaky Feelings and many other subsequent groups) under his most recent nom-de-disque One Man Bannister undertakes his own interpretations of this remarkable album (see here).
It is quite a stretch
for one person -- Yellow Submarine to Eleanor Rigby, let
alone Tomorrow Never Knows -- and made more so when it is
just done at home as a labour of love. But, against those
formidable odds, this is not just very good indeed but it
cuts dead some of those English or American outfits who have
done similar things for a giveaway CD on a British
Matthew Bannister also answers the Famous Elsewhere Questionnaire here.