By Staff on May 2, 2012
Los Angeles-based popsters Leftover Cuties will be releasing their all-covers EP, Departures, in a couple of weeks and today, we get to premiere one of the tunes. We also chatted with vocalist Shirli McAllen about the new album, traveling and the influence of Los Angeles living on the musicians.
You may recognize "Trouble" streaming below from a little-known band called Coldplay. Although it is a cover of possibly one of the most known songs of the 2000's, the band has created an almost entirely new slow sway to it. Throwing it back to an almost 30's era, you could easily find this version of "Trouble" nestled right in-between Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday tracks.
Departures arrives May 15th and it also includes covers of "Fidelity" by Regina Spektor, "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga, "You Are My Sunshine" by Bing Crosby, "At Last" by Etta James and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" by Bob Dylan.
Pre-order your copy of Departures right here.
Can you tell us a little about your decision to cover Coldplay's "Trouble"? Why this song in particular?
Looking for the last song to cover for the EP was a very long and difficult process. We literally went through hundreds of songs looking for one that feels right and that we knew we could do something of our own with. "Trouble" came on on my Iphone one day when I was driving and had my music on shuffle. Something about the melody and lyrics spoke to me, and I knew instantly that this was the right choice. I'm really happy with the result.
Why decide to release an album exclusively of covers? How did you go about choosing each song?
Some of the covers on EP have been a part of our live sets for a while now, and have become some of our fans favorite. So, we thought, why not make a little collection of them and add a few new surprises for the fans? It's a great way to keep entertaining them while we are working on our next album that we are planing to release this fall. We also thought it would be a great way to reach new fans. We wanted to give people something they are familiar with and hopefully draw them to our original music as well.
For one song, we actually let our fans suggest songs online and then we had them vote on our 4 top choices. "Fidelity" by Regina Spektor was the winner. "Poker Face" and "You are My Sunshine" were no brainers for us since we've been playing both for a long while, and at this point they feel like one of our own. "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" was a personal choice of mine. I'm a huge Dylan fan and that's one of my favorite songs of all times.
Musicians often lead notoriously nomadic lives. Is the idea of travel one that was more important than the artists chosen for Departures? Did you have the musicians you chose in mind before you decided on the theme of travel?
Not at all, the idea behind the name carries the travel theme that was set by our debut "Places To Go". What "Departures" means to us is that these covers Departure from the original versions of these songs. It's also a Departure from our own original music.
Travel plays a huge role in this EP. How does traveling so much affect your music? Does it allow for better songwriting for you?
If I travel for longer then a few days by myself, yes, I write. When I go visit my family in Israel I often come back home with a new song or I'd write one shortly after. "I Miss You" from our previous album is a good example of that. But usually when the band and I travel it's harder to find time to write, there are always places to go and people to see and we tend to focus on the task at hand.
How does living in Los Angeles influence your band?
Most of us live in Venice Beach, and it's a great place to live. There's a lot of creative energy and tons of musicians around. I think living in Los Angeles definitely makes you want to bring your A game. There is a lot of talent in this town and you want to make sure you are doing something you can call your own. So I think it effect the band's originality, the city keeps us fresh.
Do you think your interest in noir comes from living in a city like Los Angeles?
Not particularly. Our sound came together very organically, one could even say it was a fluke. We started this band with Austin and I just jamming one night with his ukulele. We wrote a song called "Game Called Life" very quickly, recorded a demo at my house the next day, and didn't think much of it until about a couple of years later. I stumbled on the song while browsing my music and only then I realized that we were on to something, though I still didn't know what it was. Austin and I started writing more songs, adding band members that fit perfectly with what we were doing, and that's how our sound was formed. That first song we wrote eventually became the theme song for Showtime's "The Big C".
How are you feeling about the upcoming release of Departures?
I am very proud of it. I can't wait for people to hear it. I think that the last two songs on the EP show a side of the band that people haven't seen before. It's exciting to see the band growing and daring more and more.
The songs on the EP are from a fairly eclectic mix of artists. Do you think these six artists are a fair representation of your musical taste?
It is really eclectic, I agree. I wouldn't say that it accurately represents my musical taste. I think more so, our takes on these songs represent what we like. I have an appreciation for the songwriting of all the artists on the EP. I wouldn't be able to sing lyrics that I didn't like. You wouldn't necessarily find all these artists in my music collection, but I'd say most of them are in there among so much more music that I love.
Outside of covers, how do artists such as Etta James, Coldplay, Lady Gaga and Gene Autry influence you as a musician?
Bob Dylan is actually my biggest influential artist on this EP. But, each of these artist are inspiring in a different way. Etta James was an incredible singer with such soul. Coldplay has great anthemic songs and I love Chris Martin's voice. When you hear our version of Poker Face, I think you'll see that we are not influenced by Gaga's style, but personally I really appreciate her songwriting on this particular song.
How is this EP a continuation—or a departure from—Places To Go?
I see this EP primarily as it's own thing and as a departure from Places To Go, hence the title. The artwork for both are linked, but they highlight the difference between them. A living person versus a reflection.