Cult US songwriter Jay Reatard died four years ago this week – but is more influential now than ever according to Canadian punks PUP. Check out the Toronto newcomers’ tribute to Reatard below, a cover of his 2006 anthem ‘My Shadow’, as well as a few words from the band about the Memphis man’s legacy:
“Jay’s name was one that we saw on posters and handbills around Toronto. He’d always be playing a place like The Silver Dollar (one of our favourite clubs in the city). At one particular show a friend’s band was opening, so we went out to support and also got to hear Jay for the first time. There was a raw, visceral energy to his music that is lacking in a lot of contemporary rock music. It’s almost like he knew he didn’t have a lot of time to waste – there’s a sense of desperation that permeates his music and makes it sound like he knew he was going to die – and that he was going to die soon.
He had been part of a movement of bands that kinda turned their back on this over-produced, decadent rock music – pushing lush and bloated songs to the side while pushing passionate performance and concise songwriting to the foreground – much like the artists in punk’s first wave. He was definitely one of the driving forces behind the garage rock/lo-fi/fuzz thing going on right now – guys like Ty Segall, Mikael Cronin, and bands like Thee Oh Sees – that have the same attention to craft but aren’t afraid to bury it in fuzz & let the live show run off the rails a little bit.
What we find most influential about Jay’s music is the craftsmanship. His songs have concise structures and interesting hooks that just happen to be buried under layers and layers of fuzz and distortion. We are meticulous in our writing process so that we can throw it all away and be totally unhinged onstage. His music has inspired us because it seems to work in a similar way. Outside of that, it’s the visceral push that comes from songs that just make you lose your mind. We want to write songs that are real and raw and make people give a shit. Jay was good at that.
We found out about his death in 2010 the same way pretty much everyone else gets their news these days: through the blogosphere. It was sad because it felt like he had really hit on something that people were craving. You never want to see someone so talented go so early, but in a weird way he fulfilled that romantic idea of rock ‘n’ roll that people still like to believe no matter how increasingly delusional it may be.
When it came to covering one of his songs, it was a toss-up between ‘Turning Blue’ and ‘My Shadow.’ Both are great songs, but we seemed to connect better as a band to ‘My Shadow.’ It’s wicked fun to play. Might we play it live on our first UK tour next month? Fuck yeah.”
PUP play a NME Awards Show on February 5 at London’s The Mill as part of their first UK tour. ‘My Shadow’ appears as the B-side to recent single ‘Reservoir’, available on 7″ at shows.