Written by Chad Taylor
Strong Like Bear is an alt/jam/prog/rock four piece out of Ames. For those who are familiar with the band, their willingness to experiment and get a little weird with their sound is their biggest hallmark. Frequently seen messing around with surrealist blues outfit Electric Jury, the two bands have joined forces for projects ranging anywhere from a live performance of Pink Floyd's "Animals" in its entirety, to live-scoring Alejendro Jodorowsky's "Holy Mountain." But for this week's cover song, Strong Like Bear flew solo.
So, this is definitely the most interesting take thus far.
Guitarist Bryon Dudley: Thank you.
Bassist Greg Bruna: That's what we were going for.
It's definitely the biggest departure from the original.
Where did this idea come from?
Dudley: Well, the big elephant in the room, of course, was the use of the N-word.
Which everybody wisely avoided.
Dudley: So in the process of coming up with rhymes and the like, we kind of switched things up gradually. Then we came up with a line about Goldfinger, and decided to run with the whole James Bond theme.
And switching it up a little bit became switching it up a lot.
Bruna: Honestly, I feel like ours is more faithful than all the others, because we kept most of the original arrangement.
Bruna: The arrangement is the same, the beat is the same...
Drummer Rachel Dudley: ...and it's rap-y...
Bruna: ...we might have chosen new words, but we kept everything else.
That is an interesting change. All the other bands kind of adopted the music to fit their tastes, and you guys just changed the story....
Bruna: ...and kept the arrangement pretty solid.
And how was that? Taking something that was more or less an electronic arrangement to begin with and translating it?
Bryon Dudley: Yeah, we were pretty much flying by the seat of our pants. Luckily, these guys (Rachel and Bruna) are such a great rhythm section, that we were able to just set up mics and be like 'ok, now make a groove!'
Bruna: We would try to take pieces and create something out of loops. And then ended up being like 'nope, just keep everything we just recorded."
Bryon Dudley: That whole rhythm section is them playing in real time. It's a live take. It probably sounds electronic or like it's looped, but it's not. So yay rhythm section!
Bryon Dudley: And after that, we talked about jamming on the James Bond theme, but doing some weird stuff with it, so we wound up doing like a seven minute jam on that and just cutting.
Bryon: We pulled up the Goldfinger theme, and it's just that classic James Bond tune so it was like we HAD to put that in there.
Did you guys have to go back and actually watch "Goldfinger" again to remind yourselves of the story?
Rachel Dudley: Actually we had...
Bryon Dudley: Rachel and I had just watched all the James Bond movies last year. But I did go look up the Wikipedia article on the film, just for the basic plot. A lot of the lyrics are just the plot, straight up. It is, verbatim, the plot of the movie.
How long did it take you to convert "Goldfinger" into a rap?
Bryon Dudley: Not nearly as long as you'd think. About three beers, I'd say.
So the questions that we ask everybody: 1) are you happy with your version?
Bryon Dudley: Yeah.
Rachel Dudley: Yeah.
Bryon Dudley: I can't imagine us doing a live version of it.
Rachel & Bruna: No.
That was going to be the next question.
Bruna: This was totally a one-off project. The further we got into it, the more it was like 'yeah, there's no way.'
Rachel Dudley: It was fun though, because we got to stretch, and try something that we wouldn't normally do.
Bruna: We've never done anything like this at all.