Reader’s note: Should ya wanna get straight to those yummy liner notes (and who could blame you!) just scroll down past the jump below…
Words by Jason Lee
Cover photo by Kian Gannonn
You may recall the part towards the end of It’s A Wonderful Life where George Bailey is about to jump off the bridge but then his wingless wingman of a guardian angel shows up and shows him how the quaint little ‘burg of Bedford Falls and its residences would’ve turned out had he never been born…
…with George’s friends all either dead or in jail or living out their final days as sad old spinsters in Clarence’s alternative reality with the town having been taken over by its resident miserly financier and renamed Pottersville, a town less about white picket fences and more about seedy speakeasies, sketchy delis, and combo Pizza Hut Taco Bells…
…and yeah we were just thinking how very much the same thing would likely happen to our beloved New York City music scene (even tho’ we *do* love a good sketchy deli) if one Mike Borchardt—he of mighty rock colossus Nihiloceros and well-regarded local music blog Full Time Aesthetic—were to have never been born cuz it’d certainly be a different scene without ‘em…
…where instead of a mutually supportive community of musicians and music lovers you’d likely find a Pottersville type situation full of vain, venal, backbiting musicians and live audiences who stare silently at the ground before shuffling off into the bitterly cold night and all due to the loss of one unassuming yet incredibly hard-working individual who tirelessly serves as both catalyst and connective tissue…
…such as that between the seven NYC-based bands found on Self Destroy Re-Destroyed (Desert Sharks, Frida Kill, Nevva, Ilithios & Basalt Jar, A Very Special Episode, Shadow Monster, and Brook Pridemore) each of whom recorded their own idiosyncratic “alternative reality” version of one of the six songs on Nihiloceros’s 2021 EP Self Destroy (plus a bonus track!) a record which also features the talents of Alex Hoffman on bass and Chris Gilroy on drums…
…and much as G. Bailey excitedly runs down the main street of Bedford Falls shouting out the praises of every storefront he passes at the end of the movie, below you’ll find M. Borchardt giving shoutouts to what his friends’ manhandling of his original songs except with a good deal more insight and interesting detail than in your average Capraesque happy ending so read on good people cuz there’s much to be revealed…
Desert Sharks- “Dirty Homes“
First of all they nailed the whole thing live in like 2 takes which was quite impressive. It was immediately clear they knew what they wanted to do with the song, and they came prepared. It’s got that classic Desert Sharks wall of sound we all love so much, and their version manages to wrap the whole thing in a sort of gloomy goth haze while rhythmically pile-driving straight through to the end. Stephanie and Cait came over to the house to do their vocals and we had so much fun getting all the screams.
Frida Kill- “iamananimal“
Probably the biggest departure from the original track, they totally reinvented the song. They slowed it down and made it way darker. Lily had mocked up a demo for the rest of the band to track to because she had to record her parts later. The moment I heard that demo over the speakers, I knew it was gonna be frikin sick. It had this low-fi early 80s X quality to it that made it all spooky and slithery, and I’m really glad they were able to retain that raw element in the final track.
Nevva- “Mammal Science Fiction“
Nevva was actually the band we recorded first of all the bands. We recorded alot of these at East Williamsburg Econolodge, and various apartments, so the Nevva day was a lot of figuring stuff out, both for us and the band. I think it was end of January and I remember the room was super cold and it took us awhile to get a feel for recording in the room. After running on lots of hot coffee donut sugar all day, the band tried out some really cool ideas on the fly. Particularly all those neat vocal harmonies were basically ad-libbed on the spot while they all sang around one microphone together. It brought an even more complex melancholy to the song’s already unassuming somber sadpop melody, but with a fun playful twist that’s just so perfectly Nevva.
Ilithios/Basalt Jar– “Halfway Human”
Manny managed to make this one a bit of dark horse, by keeping most of it super close to the vest until the very last minute. I knew he was going for a “Roxy Music thing,” but when Bryan from our record label had heard it, he dubbed it “Doom Nintendo.” So from all that, I really had no idea what to expect. He really drew outside the lines on this one, and Julie’s gorgeous vocal really glued the whole thing together. It’s a an incredibly beautiful rendition.
A Very Special Episode- “Baby Teeth“
Patrick has always loved this song because he said we finally wrote a song that felt like it was FOR them, and was constantly disappointed that we don’t play it live more often. So obviously they snagged this up right away and totally crushed it. The blast-beat was a bold choice; one that I definitely never would’ve considered, but it sounds great! I think the changes they made to the middle bit of the song are better than the original and really make it their own. And if you didn’t know, you’d think they wrote the damn thing themselves.
Shadow Monster- “Odie“
The Shadow Monster day began with John showing up to the session with this bass with a weird name that he’d just scored for free. Gillian rolled in and they quickly and methodically banged out guitar and drums in no time. The fun part started when we got to watch their creative process unfold as they worked together to Frankenstein their two separate bass ideas into something strange and magical. John had to leave at some point for another band practice, while we stayed and stretched Gillian’s voice to its last possible note. We all left that day completely fried, but knowing we had captured something special. And after Chris put the whole thing together, and I heard the finished track, it confirmed we were right.
Brook Pridemore- “A.N.U.S.“
The hidden song Easter egg track. We asked Brook to this song from our 2017 EP because one of the lyrics is a direct reference to a song they have called “Guitar Bomb.” So we thought it’d be a fun extra track to include. Brook had been on tour and dealing with busted gear issues we we asked them. Brook’s emailed me his track (as is) the day we were playing Rogue Fest. I opened the email which simply said:
“Very different than the source material, I know. ‘If you ever get annoyed, look at me, I’m self employed.’ —Randy Bachman” —Brook Pridemore
BONUS FOOTAGE! See actual footage below from Nihiloceros’s release show party at Main Drag Music in Brooklyn, NYC on 10./30/23 featuring all but one of the contributors to the EP…