Burn Like Fire: Interview with Vacation’s Wayne Memmer
Last year, The Cure performed their 1981 album Faith together with two other records for the four-hour Reflectionsconcert at the Sydney Opera House. Hailed as a historic performance, Robert Smith and Co. ran through three big sets consisting of Three Imaginary Boys, Seventeen Seconds and then Faith. For the latter, the band picked up “The Holy Hour” as the 32nd track in the performance— the first from that record and being on the side one of the original tape release. The clamor for a reunion album with The Cure’s original key players Lol Tolhurst and Roger O’Donnell (as they played in Reflections) were loud but nothing materialized after the shows. Now and then, a The Cure tribute album (like NME’s Pictures of You, Just Like Heaven: A Tribute to the Cure and many others) surfaces to celebrate the music created by the band and nurtured thereafter by the fans. The need to remember the psychedelic melancholy and of course, much like in any other tributes, the nostalgia that Smith and his crew started in the suburbs of Crawley in ’76 visited the indie fence, this time initiated by the New York band Vacation.The Holy Hour, made up of ten The Cure standouts, were curated by Vacation’s Wayne Memmer and Rachel Asher with some help from nine other bands that are wildly talented on their own. Memmer took some time to answer some questions about the compilation and plans about his band Vacation. (Listen to the The Holy Hour in full here.)
Finally I found the time listening to The Holy Hour last night and the opener “Fire In Cairo” by Brown Bread was just the best way to kick it off. How were you able to gather these interesting artists for the compilation?
Wayne Memmer: Well, some of the artists I know in “real life” and other artists I was just a fan of their music, either by seeing them on a blog or playing a show with them. I’ve been friends with Becky (Brown Bread) for a long time. We used to be in a couple bands together, too. I’m also very good friends with Tim Dunne who records under the name Pedenenious.
Some well-known The Cure tracks are in the record, some of them so classic other bands might not try to shake them a bit. I noticed a lot of variation with the bands’ takes on them like Setting Sun‘s take on “Pictures of You” or probably the most famous one “Friday I’m In Love” done by Four More Years (which sounds to me like listening from a tape). How was it for the bands doing those songs, I mean, was it a specific intention to not be like the original?
Well, I can’t speak for the other bands, but as a whole it does seem like all the artists involved put in a lot of work to make each cover sound like their own and I think every artist succeeded in doing so. Speaking for Vacation, I know that we definitely wanted to put our own spin on “Close To Me.” We saw no reason to record the cover exactly like the original. There isn’t much fun in doing that.
Was there any “lottery” or draw lots for the songs? I was hoping to hear “A Letter to Elise” or “Cut Here” and was seriously disappointed by the way. Kidding.
No, there wasn’t a lottery or anything like that. I basically just emailed a large group of bands that I like and asked them if they wanted to be a part of the compilation. I told them that they can pick any song by The Cure to cover and as bands chose songs I emailed the other bands to inform them what songs had been picked already. Any song by The Cure could have been chosen, no matter how obscure. The only “rule” for the compilation is that I didn’t want two bands covering the same song, so basically it
was first come, first serve.
Last time you did Transmissions, a covers album with songs from Joanna Newsome, Pavement and Guided by Voices. Did the idea come after doing that project or it was The Holy Hour there all along?
This is actually the second tribute compilation that I have put out. Just about a year ago I put out a compilation called ‘Headed For The Ditch: A Tribute ToNeil Young‘ That compilation went over so well that I decided I wanted to pick a new band to pay tribute to. I am huge fan of The Cure, and they have so many great songs to choose from. I am thinking the next tribute compilation will be to Wire, Broadcast, or I was thinking of picking The Big Lebowski soundtrack, the greatest comedy of all time.
Speaking of future plans, what would be the next for Vacation, will you be continuing this covers project having the bands you have mentioned or are you working on new materials now? It’s been quite some time since Locust Lane.
Vacation has been real busy lately. Rachel and I have been recording a lot, like a real lot. In April, we will be putting a song called “Drone Girl” on a compilation that will be released by the guys that run matinee as hell and bad pop records. We’re in the process of recording our debut album that should be out late summer or early fall. We will be releasing a ‘single/album preview’ in April. It will only be two songs, but we want to put it out just for people to check out the new direction we have going on. There are a lot more synths involved on the new tunes. “Drone Girl” will be a part of the two song release along with another new song called “Falling Up The Stairs.” We just finished a video for “Drone Girl” and we’re going to make a video for falling up the stairs too. The videos will be released along with the songs sometime in April. So, yeah, been busy lately and we’re real excited to put our new stuff out!
Any favorite cover?
I have to say Kelly Schirmann‘s cover of “A Night Like This” is probably my favorite.It wasn’t my favorite at first but the more I listened to it the more I ended up liking it.Also, Four More Years’ cover of “Friday I’m In Love” is pretty high on my list too.