Ahab Rex “Cold”
In 2003 I was approached by FTC Records to do a song for their upcoming Cure Tribute ‘Strange As Angels’. I was told I could pick any song I wanted and I initially gravitated towards a song called “100 Years” from the album ‘Pornography’, but on listening to the album I saw more potential in the song “Cold”. I gathered a band of Robert Hyman (post Usherhouse pre MR RUSSIA) on drums, Michael La Placa on guitar and myself on vocals and bass. We rehearsed “Cold” (hear the previously unreleased band rehearsal recording attached and the studio version below.) along with ”Dummy” and ”Boogieman”. ”To Whom It May Concern” was recorded with just myself and Robert while a version of the PJ Harvey song “Rid of Me” was tracked solo. The songs were intended to be a new EP tentatively titled ‘Singable Songs for the very Young’ with an eye for follow up to the ‘Rollin’ with the Ahab Rex Quintet’ EP that had been self released prior and was gaining some buzz. We recorded at National Studios in the Logan Square location with engineer Brooke Cassell (pre singing in Ahab Rex) and mix engineer Carson Krabbe. We were joined by Right Eye Rita on keyboards for “Boogieman”. Since “Cold” had a due date of June 1st to FTC Records, it was a priority. “Cold” was completed as well as “To Whom it May Concern” by May 28th 2003. “Dummy” was mostly complete when the computer crashed and all the backup files were lost. “Dummy” was far enough along to be rescued and completed but “Rid of Me” was completely lost, not even a ruff mix survives. Two work prints of “Boogieman” survived but were not far enough along for release. I decided to leave the song there to forget. I thank my lucky stars “Cold” was already done as it is one of my favorite recordings I have ever worked on. Also, I now back up everything myself. The arrangement for “Cold” was very simple. I had worked up a demo, but when I brought it to Robert Hyman he said, “I don’t need, it I know the song by heart.”, and Michael La Placa was perfect for making swirling noise with his guitar. Since the song has no changes it was easy enough to play with the tension. Since we were tracking bass drums and guitar live I asked Brooke Cassell to punch into our head phone mix somewhere after the three minute mark and let us know to wrap it up. Robert double tracked his drums and Michael put down guitar until he felt the tracks were equally full. I slipped into the vocal booth and recorded the vocals with Neumann TLM 103 mic run into a Avalon VT-737SP tube preamplifier into Protools. I cut the intro on bass run through a Digitech RP-1 Effects Processor direct into the board.
Photos taken April 27th 2003 on a disposable camera.
Michael La Placa
Carson Krabbe & Brooke Cassell
‘Strange As Angels: A Tribute to The Cure’ was released on Failure To Communicate Records in December of 2003 and was generally well received by Cure fans.
The Illinois Entertainer’s August 2004 issue singled out “Cold” as a “…[a] more creative interpretation.”
Another review of “Strange as Angels noted “…even though The Cure influenced many industrial artists, they really are and always have been a rock band. The bands here realize this, and the droning guitars opening up The Ahab Rex Trio’s “Cold” put most of the electronic songs on 100 Tears to shame.” -Danny Rowe Left off the Dial, January 2005
“Cold” was also included as the closing track on the CD version of the debut Ahab Rex album ‘Rollin’ with the Ahab Rex Quintet’.
Some reviews of the ‘Rollin’ with the Ahab Rex Quintent’ highlighted “Cold”.
“The highlight of the record is the closer, a heavy cover of The Cure’s “Cold.” -Hugh Miller Unifinished, Sept 2004
“An excellent, emotionally wrought cover of The Cure’s “Cold” waits at the end of the album.” -Justin Stewart Featured Review, Splendid Magazine 07/04
“The disc ends with the band’s cover of The Cure’s “Cold” from the tribute album Strange as Angels, replacing the moody synths of the original with crunchy guitar riffs, wailing lead guitars, and feedback accented by Ahab Rex’s deep monotone vocals and shouting background vocals. It’s a great intense rock take on the classic Pornography tune and quite seriously one of the best Cure covers I’ve heard (and I’ve literally heard hundreds).” -Joshua Heinrich Grave Concerns Ezine 05/04
“Cold” would go on to be included on my covers album Ahab Rex ‘King Maker’ released on December 20th 2011.