Handsome Young Ladies Talk About Making Creative Covers on Their Upcoming Album: "It Has Made Me Such a Better Musician"
Handsome Young Laides aren’t your run of the mill cover band. The oxymoronically self-proclaimed “original” cover band - comprised of Sam Swanson (Midwest Blue, Dormlife, and Boomjuice) on both guitar and vocals, bassist Anthony Carvalho (Red Letter Statement and Praxia) and studio producer Jesse Sprinkle (Poor Old Lu, Demon Hunter, Dead Poetic, and Bluebrick Recordings) on drums and back up vocals - focuses on not just covering songs that they enjoy, but reimagining them in a way that only suits their unique sound. The result is the band’s upcoming album, We Got It Covered, which features their own renditions of Earth Wind & Fire, Queen, Michael Jackson, Elton John and more.
With years of combined experience in bands and behind the scenes in the music industry, Handsome Young Ladies know what it takes to create unique music, be it original songs or creative covers, making them a force to be reckoned with. We recently caught up with the band’s Sam Swanson to chat about their musical background, upcoming album and much more. Read the full interview below.
Can you tell us a little bit about Handsome Young Ladies for anyone who might not be familiar?
Sam Swanson: Yes, Handsome Young Ladies are what a finite number of people oxymoronically refer to as an “Original” Cover Band. There are a handful of acts out there that exclusively perform Cover songs with their own unique interpretation and style to make the songs almost sound as if they could be written by that group. Some examples are: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Nouvelle Vague, Post Modern Jukebox, Richard Cheese and Lounge Against The Machine, and Uke Hunt. These groups record albums of cover songs exclusively and develop their own unique following because there is some sort of artistic quality that is prevalent in the recordings and performances that give off its own integrity. To be put simply, these Cover Bands are not Copy Bands. Our specific sound is more of an Indie Rock/Post Grunge style of music offset by a more Soulful Croon. We like taking pop songs that were not originally recorded as rock and make them rock in our own unique way.
Prior to Handsome Young Ladies, you’ve all been involved in multiple other projects and bands - what makes this one special to you?
I think what makes this project special to me is that this is the very first cover band I’ve ever played/sang in. Additionally, it is my very first project with a drummer that I grew up listening to on cassette. Jesse Sprinkle (Demon Hunter, Dead Poetic, Poor Old Lu) is such a wicked talent and it’s an honor to not only play and record with him but have such an authentic and solid friendship between us as well.
What made you want to start a cover project, rather than just doing the occasional cover or two, as a lot of bands do?
ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES!!! All three of us are songwriters and have original material that we have been and are always making. This project offered the unique challenge of infusing our own artistic vision into it. For me personally it has made me such a better musician. Most notably, the chord progressions in the 70’s songs that we cover use formations that are so untypical of the past 4 decades of Mainstream Pop Music. I have so many more colors and shades to paint with in regard to the future original music that I will continue to use because of this Cover Band. Also, there is truly something admirable about artists who can re-record song and own it. I mean The Bodyguard is still the #1 selling Soundtrack of all time with good reason.
Have you learned any important lessons in previous projects that you’ve been able to apply to this band or have made you stronger musicians?
Yes, so many. Here are three:
Artistically, all three of my previous projects were so different that I was able to play different instruments and sing different styles that prepared me for this studio album in every single way.
Business-wise, this band is run a lot more efficiently and strategically. I learned so many valuable lessons from being young and more idealistic that I’m now very intentional about everything that I am involved in. Head is out of the sand and I actually like learning more about the business because I work for myself.
Performing Live, all of those rough tours through the US and scraping the bottom of the barrel to get by really humbled me a lot. I’m not afraid to say no but I’m also not afraid to earn it and take some risks. I think there’s a balance if you’re truly always learning and growing from the past. You become more self-aware, modify your behavior, and hopefully are making wiser decisions with an even greater amount of optimism. Everyone loves the underdog so stay hungry and stay grounded!
You guys are getting ready to release your new album, We Got It Covered. What are you most excited for listeners to hear on the album?
My hopes for listeners on ‘We Got It Covered’ are for them to hear the raw and tight performance of us as a band with a fresh take on songs that some might not even recognize. I hope that the people who haven’t seen us live experience through the album what others have in person and want to play this album at parties. Party album of 2019 #yearofthekiwi
Were there any songs you were really excited to cover this time around?
Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You”, Earth Wind & Fire’s “September”, Sade’s “Smooth Operator”, and Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” were my favorites to learn and re-arrange as a band. The others were a lot of fun also but the chords and melodies of those songs were personal favorites of mine growing up.
What was the most exciting part of the recording process?
Lack of ego. It went so quick and was very fun with less pressure because we weren’t recording our own original material. We spent 3 days on drums, 3 days on guitars, less than a week on bass, and then a little bit longer on vocals, back-ups and other layering. It felt like the first full-length I ever recorded when I was 19 years-old. We just hit record and went for it but took a little bit of extra time on the finer details at the end. It didn’t take as long as any other albums that I’ve made in the past and I think the care-free attitude that this was a cover band allowed us to have more fun with it by adding more gang vocals and sporadic layers.
Do you have any other big plans after the album drops?
Yes, we are currently scripting 2 music videos that will tie in with one other. We are hoping to have one come out before/during the album release and one come out after the album release this summer sometime. We also will be adding more Merchandise to our Webstore this summer and looking to book a whole lot more dates for the future.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, if you would like to help us accomplish our goal of charting on the Billboard Heatseeker’s Chart in May you can now go and pre-order ‘We Got It Coverted’ on Vinyl and CD as well as with Merch Bundles including: T-Shirts, Hoodies, Autographed 11x17 Posters, and Bumper Stickers at: handsomeyoungladies.bigcartel.com