“Within our camp we have a saying: ‘Mad shit happens when you do art’ – it means what it means,” says Yard Act frontman James Smith. In this case he’s talking about the new studio version of their song “100% Endurance” they made with Sir Elton John. The rock superstar has been a vocal fan of Yard Act for a while, talking them up on his Rocket Hour radio show on Apple Music. Says Smith, “Elton John saw our stuff and he started telling the press he thought we were good and then we chatted on the phone and after a few calls I said ‘Elton, do you want to come to the studio and play piano on a tune?’ because, fuck it, it doesn’t matter if he says no. Anyway, he said ‘yes’, so it doesn’t matter that he didn’t say no. I don’t know what else to say. He’s brilliant. Switched on, hilarious and an amazing musician.”
This new version of “100% Endurance” is pretty different than the original that’s on Yard Act’s debut album, The Overload, which is one of our favorites of the year so far, with Elton adding piano amongst the sweeping orchestration, and chimes in on the chorus and elsewhere. He even gets off a few bon mots, like “I’ve had more hits than hot meals.”
“[Elton] started out as a session player and after he’d laid down the piano and laid down the vocals, taking direction from us and trying everything we asked,” Smith says. “He said something very poignant to me – ‘I love playing on other people’s songs, especially these guys, because I started off as a session musician. The fascinating thing is you hear things so differently from other people, and when you hear what they hear, then it all makes sense.’ That insight, that curiosity and that approach to music is the reason he’s still standing (after all this time). Elton is a diamond. It was an honour to collaborate with him. My mum is showing off to all her mates and mad shit happens when you do art.”
Listen to the new version of “100% Endurance” below. You can also watch the video for the album version of song, which stars actor David Thewlis below.