Tuesday, July 16

Replicants produce unique spin on cover-tune compilation


Replicants produce unique spin on cover-tune compilation

By Vanessa VanderZanden

Daily Bruin Contributor

Ken Andrews, lead singer of the Replicants, has been stuck in a
"Warehousy loft-type space" for about a year. Tired of the
white-walled complex and its "big air conditioning ducts," he wants
to be out and on the road. But the tortured musician must continue
mixing and producing in his "utilitarian" studio.

"I’m really sick of it. I really want to play live now,"
complains Andrews.

However, the current band member of Failure and frontman for his
side project the Replicants manages to remain laid back and
positive. And with good reason.

The Replicants have just released a self-titled album of covers
of tunes ranging from the Beatles to the Cars. Snatching countless
enthusiastic reviews, the project includes the talents of one Tool
member, one Eye In Triangle musician, and one other Failure member.
And, once Andrews’ soon-to-be-released Failure album hits stores,
he will be able to return to his beloved stage.

In fact, live shows are partly responsible for the creation of
the Replicants. Back in 1992, when Failure and Tool paired up to
deliver a small tour of the West Coast, the two bands instinctually
clicked.

"We would just make fun of them constantly and they did the
same," recounts Andrews. "It was good."

Later, after Tool played Lollapalooza, the two bands toured
again, this time in promotion of Tool’s album "Undertow." The only
difference was that this time, the stakes had grown.

"The crowds were about 3,000 people bigger," Andrews says.

With the friendship that had developed between both Tool and
Failure, some members combined forces to create original works.
This plan was foiled, though, by prior commitments.

"Our other bands were taking up too much of our energy so we’d
just occasionally get together and have some beers and play a cover
song for fun," Andrews says.

He never thought the jam sessions would amount to much. "It was
kind of like a little vacation in a way. It was fun for me to play
bass, because I don’t usually play bass."

Strangely, a four-track demo tape of the haphazard group landed
on a desk at Zoo Entertainment. Before they knew it, the Replicants
were an official band with an offer to record an entire album of
cover songs.

"At that point, we had no idea what to do," explains a baffled
Andrews. "Everyone would just bring up songs and either we would
all agree or we wouldn’t and I think everyone sort of got their one
song that maybe other people didn’t want."

However, they could all agree on one thing: The Replicants would
have their own musical freedom.

"We like doing the Replicants because we could do different
versions of these songs in ways that Failure or Tool wouldn’t,"
Andrews says.

For instance, neither spawning ground for the creative forces of
the Replicants would think to record Missing Persons’ "Destination
Unknown" with an industrial/techno spin. Each song was dealt with
individually, following no preconceived notion of the album’s
overall sound. This system provided a good musical balance for
Andrews and his associates.

Ironically, the decision to record both John Lennon’s "How Do
You Sleep" and Paul McCartney’s "Silly Love Songs" reflects a
balance of a different nature.

"They were both sort of written in response to each other,"
explains Andrews.

Apparently, the feuding friends took harmful jabs at each other
in each work’s lyrics. Andrews feels the move to remake both pieces
was an important one, as "You gotta show both sides."

Most songs, though, were chosen on no specific thematic basis.
From Neil Young’s "Cinnamon Girl" to Gary Numan’s "Are Friends
Electric?" it’s clear that the Replicants worked, in Andrews’
words, "without prerequisites for the kind of songs we picked."

"Some of (the songs) we honestly loved the music and some …
it’s sort of a novelty thing," Andrews says. "Some of them we
didn’t change very much, either out of laziness or we couldn’t find
another idea."

The four covers from the demo track made it to the album, and
for a few others, the group took a new approach.

"We just said OK – we’re throwing out the original music,"
Andrews says. "We’re just gonna come up with our own thing. It
almost took the same amount of effort as writing a song from
scratch."

Yet, it proved a labor of love, since this aspect of the album
is what attracted the members to the project in the first
place.

"As we got further along, we became more and more bored with
doing similar versions. We got more excited with coming up with
different, weird ways of doing the songs," Andrews says. "It was
fun coming up with the ideas, (though) the execution got a little
tedious."

The entire album, recorded in Failure’s studio, was produced
piecemeal. "We were hardly ever all there together at once,"
recalls Andrews.

Laying down guitar tracks one at a time and devising their parts
somewhat individually, the Replicants sometimes would take a week
to return to half-finished songs.

"I ended up spending the most time on it ’cause I did all the
engineering and mixing," Andrews says. "I got a little burnt out
’cause I’d been in the studio six months previous to that as
well."

Though both creative sessions began to blur together, definite
differences between the two musical episodes were evident.

"The Failure album was a totally different way of working for us
because we decided to just get all the equipment and move into this
house," Andrews says.

The group had only written one song, but all the other tunes
were created and recorded on the spot.

"At least with the Replicants, we already had a map of the
lyrics and what the song was," Andrews says.

Regardless of all the success he’s been having between the two
outfits, Andrews doesn’t consider himself a rock star.

"Musically, I’m looking to be able to live and make records and
play," Andrews says. "About three years ago I realized it was a
definite possibility and basically for the last couple of years
it’s been the reality."

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Andrews has given up on his
childhood dream of being "a combination between probably Eddie Van
Halen and Rick Ocasek," though, he doesn’t feel these aspirations
have greatly influenced his work.

Perhaps a greater emotional drive to create music stems from a
somewhat touchy subject – his rejection from UCLA’s film
school.

"I just think it’s really stupid how … the only way that they
filter people out is by, like, grade point average which is the
dumbest thing ever," Andrews says.

Graduating from Cal State Los Angeles as a film major, he
received work in editing shortly after school. "I’ve always been
familiar with electronic boxes," Andrews says. "Once you understand
one, you understand them all."

Fortunately, he’s been able to apply this knowledge in his
musical occupation. Currently producing a small Canadian band’s
album in his studio, ever-busy Ken Andrews reflects on the
possibility of a second Replicants’ compilation.

"Maybe in a year or so," he says. "I’ve already thought about a
couple other songs that I might want to try."

The Replicants (l to r): Greg Edwards, Paul D’Amour, Chris
Pitman and Ken Andrews

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