Jeff Rosenstock & Laura Stevenson release (and discuss) Neil Young covers EP
Fresh off releasing his new live album, Jeff Rosenstock has now teamed with his former Bomb the Music Industry! bandmate Laura Stevenson for an EP of Neil Young covers called Still Young, which is out digitally today on Polyvinyl Records (which also happens to be Neil's 75th birthday).
Jeff says that for a while he "knew [he] was supposed to like Neil Young," but it wasn't until Laura and her husband started Jeff on his route to Neil fandom that it finally clicked. Here's Jeff and Laura talking about how it all came together:
JEFF: Laura and I have known each other since we were teenagers skankin’ our buns off in the same VFW halls, church basements and high school auditoriums sorry. We’ve played in each others’ bands on-and-off throughout this marvelous millenium and under the immense stress of the music industry and oh boy, let’s not forget these difficult times, our friendship has not collapsed. It is strong, like a sicky thicky beam of steel!
LAURA: May I interject here and state for the record that I did not skank? I was merely a spectator. But I will agree that our friendship began strong and it REMAINS very strong.
JEFF: Much like our friendship, Neil Young’s songs have existed for a long time - some would argue, they’ve existed for even longer. For a while, I knew I was supposed to like Neil Young but a lot of the “standards” admittedly are not for me*. Eventually I asked Laura and her husband Mike to get me started somewhere, and months later, I would spend nights traveling alone on tour with After The Gold Rush on repeat in my headphones, simultaneously allowing me to feel grounded and as if I was floating away. As I dove deeper into his catalog, more and more records of his would bookend my days - giving my band buds some chill music in the morning so they could sleep on the drive or slowing me down at night as I space out in front of my record player.
LAURA: I’m so glad Jeff finally got sucked in. For me, Neil Young was playing in my house for as long as I can remember. My favorite record being Comes A Time which I think for sure influenced my love of harmonizing. But it’s kind of a hard task to get someone to love something as much as you do when it’s just this thing you’ve always known and appreciated. I’m happy it worked!
JEFF: Seth from Polyvinyl has joked that I like “sad Neil” and I have claimed on multiple occasions that “I hate it when Neil rocks.” But I don’t. I love it when he does anything, because no matter what the project is it always feels honest and pure. He is a famous-as-fuck songwriter that could sell out a basketball arena at the drop of a hat even though he’s always sticking his middle fingers up at the world, his audience included. That’s the kinda shit we’re into.
LAURA: I think it’s just so different when he rocks. I get that the two are such opposite ends of the spectrum but they still have the same underlying emotional content. I feel like Jeff and myself, as songwriters who grew up in punk rock, have a similar thing, where you can be very sweet and beautiful, and then at times, kind of ugly and heavier, but it’s always the same voice and the same intention at the end of the day.
JEFF: Laura and I have been talking about doing a few EPs of Neil Young covers for years. It’s an excuse to have fun making music together and we both like fun and music in case you missed it. It’s also nice to hang out and create (sorry) instead of just talking about “oh my god did you hear what this stupid dipshit did on tour? I hope their band takes us out.” We finally both had time away from the road this summer, Laura heroically made the trip down to my apartment (carrying an unborn child no less!! wow! grammy award!) in Brooklyn a few times and we’d feverishly lay down a bunch of tracks. I like hearing Laura play guitar and she convinced me to sing quieter than I ever have. We had a few friends fill in some details and we quickly had this EP you’re listening to. I hope it’s not too long before we make another!
* yes I understand this EP starts with two title tracks.
Sometimes the covers on the EP remain mostly faithful to the original ("Harvest Moon"), other times they're reworked to the point of sounding like a Rosenstock/Stevenson song ("After The Gold Rush"), and other times the covers fall somewhere between those two extremes. The whole EP is worth a listen and you can stream it below.
Jeff's only upcoming tour dates are his four Trans-Pecos benefit shows. Since we last spoke, openers have been added. 12/2 (which benefits Safe Horizon) is with Sheena, Anika & Augusta and Katie Ellen, 12/9 (which benefits Willie Mae Rock Camp) is with Oceanator and SANAWON, 12/16 (which benefits Educated Little Monsters) is with Lou Hanman and Mikey Erg Band, and 12/23 (which benefits Black Lives Matter) is with Strangepride and more TBA. Admission is first come, first served with a suggested donation at the door, but you do have to RSVP.
Laura Stevenson -- 2019 Tour Dates
Dec 3 - Baltimore, MD - Ottobar *
Dec 4 - Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle *
Dec 5 - Athens, GA - Caledonia *
Dec 6 - Tampa, FL - Hooch & The Hive *
Dec 7 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl *
Dec 9 - Nashville, TN - The High Watt *
Dec 10 - Fayetteville, AR - George's Majestic Lounge *
Dec 11 - St Louis, MO - Blueberry Hill Duck Room *
Dec 12 - Bloomington, IN - Bishop *
Dec 13 - Columbus, OH - Big Room Bar *
Dec 14 - Lancaster, PA - Chameleon Club *
Dec 15 - Jersey City, NJ - Monty Hall *
* with Adult Mom
Jeff Rosenstock -- 2019 Tour Dates
12/02 - Queens, NY - Trans Pecos*
12/09 - Queens, NY - Trans Pecos^
12/16 - Queens, NY - Trans Pecos%
12/23 - Queens, NY - Trans Pecos&
* w/ Sheena, Anika & Augusta, Katie Ellen (Benefiting Safe Horizon)
^ w/ Oceanator, SANAWON (Benefiting Willie Mae Rock Camp)
% w/ Lou Hanman, Mikey Erg Band (Benefiting Educated Little Monsters)
& w/ Strangepride, and more TBA (Benefiting Black Lives Matter)