Stream NOFX and Frank Turner’s split album where they cover each other, ‘West Coast Vs. Wessex’
As you may know, NOFX and Frank Turner's West Coast Vs. Wessex -- a split album where each artist covers the other's songs -- arrives Friday (7/31) via Fat Wreck Chords (pre-order). If you can't wait until then, you're in luck: we're premiering a full stream of the album in this post.
As NOFX frontman Fat Mike previously said, he "picked the [Frank Turner songs] that [he] thought [he] could make more interesting," and Frank also said that he "didn't want to just do straight covers of anything" and "wanted to try and pick songs where [he] felt like [him] and [his] band could bring something different to the table." "It did strike me that it would be cool to demonstrate to the casual NOFX fan, who doesn't know who I am, that I am actually a fan," Frank added.
All of that comes across on West Coast Vs. Wessex, which goes a lot deeper than one artist covering the other's greatest hits, and which features genuine reinventions of these songs. Frank Turner's original "The Ballad Of Me & My Friends" is a stripped-back acoustic song, but in NOFX's hands, it's a skate-punk ripper that would feel right at home on Punk In Drublic. NOFX's original "Falling In Love" is double-time pop punk, and Frank's version makes it sound like a Nick Drake song. It's not always that extreme though. In cases like Frank's version of "Perfect Government" and NOFX's version of "Worse Things Happen At Sea," both artists kinda meet in the middle and end up arriving at a similar place. The whole album is very cool, and you can and should listen to the whole thing in the YouTube playlist below.
Frank and Fat Mike recently interviewed each other, and they talked about all kinds of random things, including Rancid, The Rolling Stones, soccer, English accents, Fat Mike's hair dye, doing too much E, who would win in a boxing match, and more, but they did also discuss this album and the art of covering songs.
"Covering songs well is not easy," Fat Mike said. "Anyone can do a song exactly how it was written, but making it different without ruining the song is an art. It’s a low brow artform like painting by numbers, but it still takes a little imagination and lack of self esteem. Luckily I have both. I guess the real trick is finding songs that are really good, but could still be better. Perfect songs are bad songs to cover cuz no matter what you do, they won’t be as good."
When asked if he had anything else to add about this album, Frank Turner told us, "Doing a split with NOFX, one of my favourite bands since forever, is one of the coolest things I've ever done. I think it came out pretty great as well."
In related news, Frank Turner played a socially-distanced indoor show earlier this week, and he then wrote about how part of his motivation for doing the show was to show how "this specific set-up doesn’t work." A series of shows like this one would "bankrupt everyone involved," he said. Venue manager Ally Wolf also said the show was "not a success." "It can't be the future for live music, it can't be the future for venues."