Puddle Of Mudd's re:(disc)overed - the track-by-track guide
"It wasn't our plan to do an album of cover tunes," says Puddle of Mudd guitarist Paul Phillips of the group's new record, re:(disc)overed, due out 2 August. "We were on a bit of a break, during which time some touring offers came in. We didn't want to go out there without something new, and one day the idea of a covers album came up. The whole thing felt very exciting."
And with that, the band (which also consists of vocalist Wes Scantlin, bassist Paul Ardito and drummer Shannon Boone) who already included AC/DC's T.N.T. and Steve Miller's The Joker in their live show, drew up a wish list of other rock classics to fill out re:(disc)overed. "We tried to pick songs that inspired us, by artists who really influenced us," Phillips says. "With the exception of a couple of songs, we made our selections pretty quickly."
The songs were tracked with as few takes as possible; overdubs were kept to a minimum. “We really tried to stay true to the vibe of the originals and not murder the hell out of them. Pro Tooling our performances just isn’t out thing.”
While the guitarist expects Puddle Of Mudd to start recording an album of all-new material sometime early next year, he says that the band found the process of interpreting songs they grew up to be an important growth step.
“It was a lot of fun, but at the same time quite a challenge,” Phillips states. “‘Can we do these songs justice? Will we fall on our faces?’ – those were the questions we asked ourselves. And the greatest thing to come out of it all was that we learned that we can do other things, that we can sound different if we want to. Making this album really opened up our creativity.”
Before they hit the studio again, however, the band will tour behind re:(disc)overed, a prospect Phillips is eagerly anticipating. “We’re going to expand our lineup to play these songs. We’ll bring out a piano player and background singers – it’ll be a blast!”
On the following pages, Phillips talks re:(disc)overed track-by-track, offering his thoughts on the original songs and artists and how Puddle Of Mudd approached each cut.
The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter
“We knew we wanted to do a Stones song. We had three or four of them on our lists, but Gimme Shelter eventually won out.
“I love the intro – it’s so haunting. And the way the female singer comes in and works off of Jagger with the higher octave…so awesome.
“When we recorded it, we sped it up a little. It just worked for us at a slightly faster tempo. As for the intro, I brought it back in the bridge section. It’s such a great part that it made sense to make it more of a feature in the song. I’m pretty proud at how it turned out.”
Neil Young - Old Man
“What can you say about Neil Young? He’s written so many great songs, how can you pick just one? What I really like about Old Man is how stripped down it is. It feels like a lot is going on, but when you really listen to it, it’s very basic.
“We probably added a little more instrumentation than what was on the original, but we still stayed true to Neil. The banjo is definitely in there, and so is the slide guitar. To me, those are like essential hooks you can’t get rid of.
“We elongated the song by adding another chorus. And I threw in a guitar solo, just for my own ego, really. [laughs] It’s probably one of my top three favorites on the album.”
AC/DC - T.N.T.
“That’s a song we’ve been doing live for a long time. I left the band briefly on the third record, and when I rejoined, T.N.T. was in the set. It gets such a great response from the audience that we can't not play it now. The crowd expects it of us. It’s almost become one of our own songs, in a strange way.
“We’re such AC/DC fans. For us to do a covers record and not do T.N.T. would’ve been wrong. The song’s got everything you could want. A total blast from beginning to end.”
Tom Petty & Stevie Nicks - Stop Draggin' My Heart Around
“Our manager always said that we should cover this song, and for the longest time we weren’t open to the idea. Us do a song with a female sharing the lead vocal? We just didn’t see it.
“As the record evolved, we came around to it. First off, I do love Tom Petty – I think he’s a true punk rocker, the way he went after his record label back in the ‘80s. The guy’s totally cool, and one of the best songwriters ever. And Stevie Nicks is one of my favorite singers, too.
“After we agreed to do it, we needed a female vocalist, and we brought in this girl named BC Jean to sing with Wes. She’s brilliant, and she way she sings off of Wes is killin’. They sang in the booth together and ad-libbed off of each other, kept the whole thing live. It really works.”
Steve Miller Band - The Joker
“Another song that’s been in our set forever. To be honest, as a live version we bastardized it somewhat, making it rock a little more. My guitar solo was much different – I kind of did my own thing on it.
“When it came time to record the track, we realized it was one of those songs that could go either way: we could do what we were doing or stay true to the original. Thinking we might get crucified if we got too far out there, we stuck close to what Steve Miller did. We sped up the tempo here again and added another chorus – that’s pretty much it. I think people are going to be pretty happy with our choices here."
Billy Squier - Everybody Wants You
“I remember getting MTV in the house when I was growing up, and Billy Squier was on that channel all the time. Those ‘80s outfits he wore, with the tight pants and those little half-shirts? He probably looks at pictures of himself now and goes, ‘What was I thinking?!' [laughs]
“The riff is one of the coolest. It’s so basic, like Smoke On The Water or Iron Man, but it has such a swing to it. I knew when we went to cut it with Les Pauls and Marshalls that it would really come to life.
“It’s such a fun, groovy song. If you grew up in the ‘80s, you know the tune. I think it's pretty cool to be bringing it to a brand-new audience.”
Elton John - Rocket Man
“Of all the songs on this record, this one had us the most excited and intrigued. I’m a huge Elton John fan, and I say that without reservation – he’s not a guilty pleasure at all. He and Bernie Taupin are two of the finest songwriters the music world has ever seen.
“When Rocket Man showed up on the list, I was like, ‘Wow! That’s sooo far from what Puddle Of Mudd has ever done.’ But that’s what was so cool about it: I want to knock people out with this record and have them say, ‘I never thought they could do stuff like that.’
“I didn’t know if we could pull it off. But our producer, Bill Appleberry, is a great piano player – he plays with Joe Walsh and the James Gang, and The Wallflowers from time to time – so he really set the tone. When you have piano playing that amazing, you’re halfway there. We laid our parts down and everything came together beautifully. Really happy with this one.”
Free - All Right Now
“You can’t go wrong with Paul Rodgers. He’s one of my favorite singers ever. And the groove on this song is one of the best. It’s like an AC/DC groove, very simple and staccato. Then it’s got that crazy section, first there's a bass solo that goes into a wild guitar solo, and then that takes you back into the crunching riff and the rest of the song.
“Actually, as a guitarist, All Right Now gave me a tough time. Something about that solo, one of those licks was just getting me every time. I kept putting off and putting off having to lay it down. Finally, on the last day of recording, in the last hour, I went in and nailed it. I was so relieved.”
Bad Company - Shooting Star
“Another Paul Rodgers song but with a different band. I remember hearing this song in the car with my dad, who was a musician himself. The story affected me so much. I couldn’t believe the character died at the end.
“My dad and I talked about the song and the message. When he told me it was about heroin, I was like, ‘No, it’s about a comet!’ Then I really paid attention to the lyrics, and that’s when I got the whole analogy: ‘Shooting’ Star.
“I love Bad Company. They’re like the UK’s version of Skynyrd – very straight-forward, earthy, bluesy. When this song came up for consideration, I immediately said, ‘I’m in!’”
James Gang - Funk #49
“It’s such a jam. Really, that’s the spirit of the whole song. There’s hardly any lyrics to it. It just rolls along, and then there’s this insane part in the middle where the song goes off in a totally new direction. Love it!
“Maybe it’s the key the song is in, but I really like Wes’ voice on our version. I think it’s just near the edge of his range as a singer, so he’s stretching a little bit. It brings out a different quality to how he normally sounds.
“It was a bit strange to record it with Bill Appleberry, since he does play with the James Gang. But we were in good hands, too, so everything worked out real well.”
Led Zeppelin - D'yer Mak'er
“That was the second one behind Elton John that I was a little nervous about. I mean, it’s Zeppelin: Bonham, Page, John Paul Jones, Plant…untouchable guys.
“Beyond that, musically the song was different for us because of the reggae vibe. That’s a big, big stretch for us. If you don’t get this song right, you shouldn’t do it at all. I told our drummer, ‘Dude, that Bonham drum pattern, you can’t mess with it.’
“And then…we got it! I listened to the track through the speakers, without vocals, and I said, ‘Well, all right! It’s not terrible. In fact, it’s good.’ I loved playing the guitar solo. I know Jimmy Page is famous for some of his longer runs, but there's so special about the solo on D'yer Mak'er, it's light and melodic. I’m not a shredder; I like something I can hum.”