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Last year, beloved local rockers Pale Divine played a well-received reunion show at the Pageant. This year, the quartet is fortunate enough to be doing one again (guitarist Richard Fortus' Guns N' Roses touring schedule allowed him to travel to St. Louis). However, Pale Divine is doing two sets this year – and incorporating more of the covers fans loved to hear during its mid- to late-'80s heyday. In honor of that, B-Sides asked each member of the band (separately!) to name the two covers he enjoyed playing back in the day, whether these have held up over time — and to name a song he wished Pale Divine would cover today. The synchronous answers might surprise you. In addition, head to www.rftmusic.com to find out what the band's been up to in the past year.
Greg Miller, drummer: Cover song one for me would be "Ziggy Stardust" by David Bowie. I love that song, and I love the way we played it. I think we started messing around with that one day after we had been playing at [now-defunct club] Animal House. They used to play "Suffragette City" by Bowie on the big screen during breaks and on the radio a lot. It was something different, plus it's way cooler. All that old Bowie is just as cool now as it was then.
The second song would be "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus. We extended the end of that one for a good long bit back in the day. We used to play around a lot with reverb effects. Dave Probst, our sound guy/light guru, used to put this hellacious long reverb on my drums at the end of that. That was fun, because I sort of had a solo, but it was the anti-drum solo, in that I was seeing how slow I could play the part. [I'm] not sure if that one has held up well, [but it's] still a classic from back in the day.
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If I could cover any song in Pale Divine it would be "Sober" by Tool. That song is already very much like we were back then – a dramatic, grinding tune with great dynamics. I guess that's why I like them so much!
Dan Angenend, bassist: My favorite cover to play has to be [the Beatles'] "Strawberry Fields [Forever]." We decided to try to arrange it in a way that was kind of our own, and it came off pretty well. It became a crowd favorite, so I'm sure I'm influenced by that. It felt like home playing it again last year, almost like we never stopped playing together. The next on the list would be anything by Hendrix. I really enjoy hearing Rich play Hendrix. He is such a brilliant guitarist, and he really translates Hendrix into his own style. We used to play "Foxy Lady," "Castles Made of Sand," "Fire," "All Along the Watchtower" or "Gypsy Eyes" — any of those would do.
Michael Schaerer, vocalist: Favorite cover from the old days: "Don't Fall," the Chameleons UK. It's just so definitely Pale Divine, even though we didn't write it. [It's] really fun to sing and perform — very dramatic! Richard brought this to us, as he did with most of the covers we did. He's a voracious listener of music and student (dare I say master?) of all genres. We were all pretty into English pop at the time, and this was such a showpiece. It still rocks.
My second favorite is probably "Green Heaven" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. [It has] great lyrics, lots of dynamic changes. We did a lot of Peppers at the end of sets to get everyone pumped; [you] can't beat the Peppers for inciting a crowd to dance. As far as standing up to the test of time, "Green Heaven" and a lot of the early Peppers songs are a little dated stylistically, perhaps, but still fantastic.
I'd want to cover a David Bowie song from [The Rise and Fall of] Ziggy Stardust [and the Spiders from Mars], which is still one of my all-time favorite albums. From the production to the lyric content to the performances of all involved, it's just unbeatable. We used to do the title track, but it's really been covered a lot. Maybe "Moonage Daydream"? "Five Years"? Man, I love that album.
Richard Fortus, guitarist: I always loved picking obscure covers that we could make our own. I think one of the ones that we really grew to own was "Don't Fall" by the Chameleons UK. I always felt like we did it better than them. We should have put that on our Atlantic debut. We also did a great version of "Strawberry Fields [Forever]" by the Beatles. I think we did a good job with that one and made it into our own song, though if I had to choose between our version or the Beatles' [version], I'm afraid I'd have to opt for the original. It's such a classic and timeless song.
I'd like for the Eyes/Pale Divine to do a cover of "Moonage Daydream" by Bowie. I think we'd do a great job with that. Michael's voice would be perfect on it. I'd also like to do a cover of "30 Days In the Hole" by Humble Pie. Michael has a great classic-rock voice. He'd kill that.