Black Marble aka Chris Stewart has shared a new single, Johnny and Mary, a rendition of a song originally performed by Robert Palmer, and the second song lifted from an EP of cover songs titled ‘I Must Be Living Twice,’ due out August 14, 2020 via Sacred Bones Records. ‘I Must Be Living Twice’ was recorded shortly after 2019’s acclaimed full-length album ‘Bigger Than Life,’ and is available for pre-order via Bandcamp.
Chris Stewart shares: “A lot of people know Robert Palmer as this slightly garish 1980s pop icon, but not everyone is aware of his early more bedroomy synth stuff he wrote before he really got big. I’m always reminded of a festival he headlined in the early ‘80s. The Cure opened. They get the hook for time reasons and walking off stage, Robert Smith proudly proclaims ‘fuck Robert Palmer’ to a throng of drunk festival goers. A smattering of the chant ‘punk rock’ (still a relatively new thing at the time) starts to be heard. Everyone has their time I guess, sort of a recurring theme of my work. Even my band’s name is more or less about going in and out of fashion.” He goes on to say: “It’s not hard to find this old song kind of enchanting and more accessible than his ‘Addicted to Love’ era stuff, all relevancy subtext aside. And since the themes of the song deal with someone who’s undergoing sort of a career crisis, ‘scared that he’ll be caught, without a second thought,’ I thought it would be interesting to cover in the context of who he was and what he (and artists more broadly) often go through. It also felt nice to give some props to an early tune, focusing on a time in his ascent before a lot of inevitable complications.”
Listen to Black Marble’s cover of Johnny and Mary via YouTube below.
Johnny and Mary follows the EP’s first single, Black Marble’s version of In Manchester, a song originally by Wire. The single was released in early July with the announcement of the EP, accompanied by a nearly holographic, non-narrative video directed by Scott Kiernan.
Pre-order ‘I Must Be Living Twice’ here.
“I’ve always loved the cover song aspect of live performance. Most musicians are fans first and covers are a way for bands to show this. They can add an improvisational tone to an otherwise rehearsed feeling set, and give a sense that songs are owned not only by the people who write them but by the fans that know them and the other musicians that take influence from them.
About three years ago we started playing cover songs on stage, and a couple of unforeseen things started happening. First off, people would ask me – not knowing it was a cover – when the new songs they heard were coming out on an upcoming Black Marble LP. Sadly, I’d have to tell them that a) I didn’t write the song, and b) me playing this new material was not evidence of the impending new release they were hoping for. The other thing that would sometimes happen is people would come up to me who already knew the songs I was playing. These people were stoked to hear an old favorite worked into our set, but again they would often wonder if they could ever hear them outside of the live setting.
After a while it became obvious that we eventually wanted to record the covers we’d been playing live for the fans that wanted to hear them. Also, we’ve played a lot of shows in the past three years. We crossed the full U.S. several times and met a lot of great people and this covers EP is a cool way for us to remember that time as well.
As far as process, I recorded and mixed this one myself shortly after, and as a way to come down from, the process of writing and recording the ‘Bigger Than Life’ LP. I took some of the mixing and arranging things I was working through for a year on ‘Bigger Than Life’ and was able to apply to this record fairly quickly and easily, so I think from an engineering perspective this recording is the culmination of that way of thinking about presentation before I move on to the next phase.” – Chris Stewart, Black Marble, April 2020
‘I Must Be Living Twice’ EP track listing
1. Johnny and Mary originally recorded by Robert Palmer.
2. Golden Age originally recorded by Lives of Angels.
3. In Manchester originally recorded by Wire.
4. Emma’s House originally recorded by The Field Mice.
5. Poison Tree originally recorded by Grouper.