Torched Exclusive Interview By Contributing Artists Of ‘The Work Of Sinners, The Work Of Saints’ A Tribute To Love And Rockets / Tones On Tail

The Work Of Sinners, The Work Of Saints – A Tribute To Love And Rockets / Tones On Tail is nothing short of a carefully curated masterpiece that presents a time capsule from these two bands and brings it forward to today and beyond. This album, released on April 29, 2022 via Coitus Interruptus Productions brings together an incredible amount of talent that re-creates, re-envisions and pays homage to the soundtrack of our lives.

“I could say what the inspiration was behind choosing to put together a tribute to Tones on Tail & Love And Rockets, but really it’s the same inspiration behind each of them; to hopefully pay respects to all the music and musicians that have added the soundtrack to all the important moments of our lives. Well, those of us who dance around the edges of conformity anyway. It’s sort of a “lest we forget” sort of thing.” ~ Chris Halstead – Coitus Interruptus Productions

A few of the contributing artists were gracious enough to share their thoughts on the song that they re-created with the following questions…

1. What was the inspiration behind your chosen track for ‘The Work Of Sinners – The Work Of Saints’ collaboration?

2. What are a few things that you brought to the table to make your song version unique and truly yours?

Fiction 8 – “An American Dream” – Love And Rockets

Michael Smith – a little background – I, Mike, did the main vocal, bass, and electronics. David DeVoe, who is the frontman for New Ben Franklins (also on this comp), played all the guitars and did the backing vocals and choir at the end. We’ve played together on and off since ’94.

David and I have always been huge Love & Rockets and Tones on Tail fans. We argued about which song to cover, so that’s partly why both bands (Fiction 8 and New Ben Franklins) have tracks on the comp. In high school, this cute girl invited me to a goth club. One of the first things I heard there was “Go!” I couldn’t stop thinking about the song. I went home and tried to play it from memory. The next week, she lent me her copy of “Express”. It was life-changing. All these years later, it’s still a desert island album for me. It was tough to settle on “An American Dream”, but I think I did because it sums up the record so nicely. They really nailed the American penchant for boom-or-bust extremes on that one.

They say when you cover a song, that you should put your spin on it – make it belong to you. That’s important, but I guess I think a bit more like Bill Laswell. Rather than just one sound or the other, why not put the two different things together and see what happens? That’s how you find new sounds. We’ve done songs with acoustic guitars before, but never with arpeggiated synths. It was fun to put the various different things together. David had time to record the guitars before I was ready, so I sent him a click track, basic drums, and temp vocal. Meanwhile, I laid down the bass and electronics. We both worked without knowing much what the other was going to do. Obviously we both knew the song, but the process was a bit ‘exquisite corpse’, so that seemed appropriate for covering them.

Ashes Fallen – No New Tale To Tell – Love And Rockets

James Perry – I remember when I first discovered MTV. I was around 12 or 13 at the time and it was a game-changer for me. I was mostly into rock and metal at that time, but I’ll always remember the first time I saw the video for “No New Tale to Tell”. Daniel Ash walking in wearing head-to-toe black, leather jacket, skintight jeans, spiky hair, lipstick, and then the way he put on those sunglasses before he started playing… I thought “this must be the coolest guy alive!” It made a huge impression on me. And on top of that, what a cool, catchy song.

We started by increasing the tempo and giving it more of a rock edge. Then when we were trying to figure out what to do with the bridge of the song, we thought, “why not saxophone”? Modern gothic rock in general needs more saxophone!

Album art/design by Greg Rolfes

Bellhead – No Big Deal – Love And Rockets

Ivan & Karen – We wanted to select a song that we could pay tribute to by sticking to our roots of “2 basses and a drum machine”- we really make sure to avoid songs that wouldn’t require heavy instrumental programming or the addition of musicians to help us fill out the sound. The Love & Rockets original version of “No Big Deal” really has that grit and swagger that BELLHEAD is known for. We listened to every version of the song we could from remix to edit to live. We absorbed everything the band had done before putting our take on it. 

When we went into the studio to track “No Big Deal”, we kept saying that the song needed to sound like a black leather jacket. You’ll listen to this song and it will transport you to a punk rock bar that’s open until 4am and reeks of warm stale beer. It’s the dead of night and you haven’t taken your sunglasses off. Everyone knows you could start a fight at any moment. When the song ends, you are getting on your motorcycle racing the dawn into the horizon.

Stoneburner – The Light – Love And Rockets

Steven Archer – Inspiration: I covered the song – The Light, from Earth, Sun, Moon because that song encapsulates a moment in my youth that was chaotic emotional perfection. A time of every emotion all at once. Sadness mixed with love and fear mixed with hope. As you age and gain perspective on life I think that intense chaos becomes clarity, which is far more productive but often less sublimely beautiful. This cover of as a way of trying to capture that moment in a bottle.

What I brought to the table: I am a creature of noise and harmonic distortions. I find the line between a beautiful sound and one that slices directly through you very intriguing and beautiful. In addition to my personal relationship to the song I think I brought that sharpness to it.

Love And Rockets by Mitch Jenkins

cis MACHINA – The Dog End Of A Day Gone By – Love And Rockets

A01: There are so many songs by ToT and LNR that we absolutely love but ‘Dog-End’ was our primary choice. We always loved the crunch guitar intro and incessant drums, but it is mostly the imagery that the song conjures that always fascinated us. We assimilated the song into the machine well before we ever experienced Los Angeles and this song gave such a dark and haunting vibe about the “city of light”, “the city without a soul” where newspaper boys sell “the hard truth”, and “the drunk outside the Wendys’ is becoming less than friendly” and where there is “nothing less amusing than the Amusement Arcade”. Lastly, the way that Daniel Ash and David J’s human vocals meld together on the song are magical to our circuitry.

A02: The initial approach to the track was to replicate it faithfully and mechanically. We recorded the crunch guitar lines and tribal drums first and then worked the backing tracks. After supporting the guitar instrument with darker machines, and adding the bass machine, we completely stripped any “real” guitar from consideration, leaving a much more interesting and disturbing intro and feel to the song. Our approach to the vocals was to verbalize the song holding very true to the melody and lyrics, but then adding our machine to the vocalization using a combination of vocoder, polysynth, extreme compression, and delay (amongst other cis MACHINA algorithms). Only after the entire track was basically finished did we put any analog sounds back in, and then only at the very end where we supplemented the machines with human manipulated bass and guitar instruments to mimic the signature outro lines of the original and the song fades to silence.

Tones On Tail press photo

The Blue Hour – Tones On Tail – Christian Says

Marselle Hodges – Selecting a song for this tribute was very easy for us. Tones on Tail provided the soundtrack to our youth, much of which was spent in dance clubs. You only had to hear the first notes of “Christian Says” or “Go” to immediately stop whatever you were doing and rush the dance floor. Those songs are brimming with memory. Of those two, we chose “Christian Says” because it has such a sultry, sexy vibe to it that I thought it would work well with our smoky-noir vibe and co-vocals.

I really feel we put our Blue Hour spin on the song. From the dub-echo synths to the blended vocals to the cinematic—almost gospel—build at the end. It retains Tones on Tails’ sultry vibe channeled through the Blue Hour’s ethereal haze. I love the music and manic industrial drums Brian created, and Michael Louis’s bass was just perfect. He never disappoints. Also, I wanted one of those 80’s endings with the soaring female vocal stacks to give the ending a multilayered eargasm that leaves the listener in ultimate satisfaction. Ha! That sounded kinda sexual! But that’s also so true to the original. Truth be told this is one of my favorite covers we’ve done!