"R.E.M. has so many incredible songs, and I knew it was going to be hard to choose only six, so I started with a list of about 25 songs," Jeff Caudill tells me when I ask him about his new EP, Waves of Conversation: The Songs of R.E.M. The 6-track collection is a collaboration between the singer-songwriter (Gameface, Your Favorite Trainwreck) and Musicians Vs Cancer, a non-profit organization based in Leeds, England that donates 50% of all its profits go to cancer research.
I asked Jeff how the project came together. "I’ve known [Musicians Vs Cancer founder] Peter [Beswick] for while. We met in Sheffield while I was on a solo tour in 2011, but I knew him before that through the various projects he was involved with. He’s always been an advocate of independent music. I really admire how he continues to be creative and motivated, and when this latest venture involved a charity for cancer research I was very interested. Add in covering songs from one of the most influential bands of my lifetime and I was all in."
Aside from the obvious great vibes that come from doing something for such a worthwhile cause, Jeff also admits that it permitted him to do something he's always wanted to tackle. "This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to cover R.E.M. Gameface made it a point to cover bands that were influential to us (Tom Petty, Psychedelic Furs, Jackson Browne) but we never had the chance to cover R.E.M. although they’ve been on my short list for a while."
I'm beyond honored to bring you the exclusive premiere of "Driver 8," my favorite cut off the Waves of Conversation EP.
The second single from R.E.M.'s 1985 album, Fables of the Reconstruction, "Driver 8" has a melancholic spirit to it that is timeless. "That was one that I knew was going to make the cut before I even started. For me, that song has everything — a great chord progression, a smart vocal melody and memorable lead guitar line. It’s not quite new wave and not really country but it could be either, or both."
Waves of Conversation: The Songs of R.E.M. will be released via Bandcamp on Feb. 5 and can pre-ordered today. Head to the page to also check out Jeff's version of "Try Not to Breathe."