Napalm Death, Voivod, Municipal Waste, Child Bite members & more cover Cardiacs
Last year, Cardiacs leader Tim Smith sadly passed away, leaving behind a rich discography (which is now on streaming services) that influenced tons of musicians. Many of those musicians -- including members of Napalm Death, Voivod, Municipal Waste, Child Bite, and Yakuza -- have now come together to record a cover of the band's chaotic 1987 classic "Tarred and Feathered," with help from none other than Cardiacs bassist (and brother of Tim Smith) Jim Smith. Decibel spoke to the one-off supergroup about the cover:
Decibel: How did you decide on “Tarred and Feathered”?
Shawn Knight (Child Bite): It’s my favorite song of theirs. Shane’s too; he told me later that it’s the ringtone on his phone. The original video is really amazing; everybody should go check it out immediately and then come back to watch our version! That video is what got me hooked on the band to begin with. The song itself is so compact and uniquely structured, we didn’t mess with the composition or parts. It’s a tribute to Tim Smith’s craft and legacy.
Dan “Chewy” Mongrain (Voivod): I think it’s one of their most famous. They had a crazy video clip for it when it came out. It is representative of their music in general: highly energetic with twists and turns you don’t expect. It has what I call a “bipolar” quality to it, if I may. It’s pure genius, like everything they’ve written. It’s a whole world window. I knew the song for having listened to it so many times but I never played it or learned it. Also there are different versions and orchestrations, depending on the live bands they had over the years, so I decided to record different options, playing the rhythm and the melodies and harmonies. I think it was all used in the mix in the end, so that’s great! It’s always a challenge to learn a Cardiacs song; I’ve learned a lot from it.
Napalm Death's Shane Embury ("in not-so-rare sly form") also spoke about how Jim Smith got involved:
A few months ago, Mr. Witte, of this band called Municipal Waste, rudely interrupted my morning snooze with an alarming text message, demanding I take part in a rather cheeky but necessary rendition of the song “Tarred and Feathered” by my favourite band Cardiacs. I am ashamed to say I wet myself (unfortunately) with excitement! After regaining composure, I rightfully insisted that Cardiacs bass player and seer Jim Smith be there to oversee my contribution and to keep me in line, should I have any ideas of my own, as was bound to happen! Fortunately, I passed the test. Jim corrected my shoddy mistakes and also added a much needed addition to our recording! We met up at a studio in Cambridge. I got to play his bass and wear his old school Cardiacs tie, so I had to sneak into the toilet for a weep of joy! Jim obviously played the song perfectly; I jumped in for the easy bits!
The cover is awesome; they do a lot of justice to the original but still make their own. Check that out below and read the rest of Decibel's interview here.
For more Cardiacs, read our retrospective review of A Little Man and a House and the Whole World Window.