Published on September 14th, 2002 | by Gerry Galipault0
Ivy invites you to its ‘Guestroom’
Adam Schlesinger has a full plate: The singer-songwriter-bassist and his cohort, Chris Collingwood, are putting the finishing touches on the next Fountains of Wayne album, and they’ve created music for an upcoming VH1 animated series that will feature their cartoon likenesses performing those songs.
That’s just half of it. Schlesinger also is one-third of the pop trio Ivy, whose debut Minty Fresh album, “Guestroom” (released Sept. 10), is a delight for lovers of covers.
How does he keep track of it all?
“I have a bevy of personal assistants,” Schlesinger said recently, with a hearty laugh. “No, really, it all kind of works out. I’m not very organized, but I have a calendar on the fridge, and that’s basically all I need.”
Most critics scoff at albums devoted to cover versions, but they might change their tune once they hear Ivy’s take on the Blow Monkeys’ “Digging Your Scene,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” the Go-Betweens’ “Streets of Your Town,” Nick Heyward’s “Kite” and House of Love’s “I Don’t Know Why I Love You,” to name a few.
For Schlesinger and his Ivy mates, singer Dominique Durand and guitarist Andy Chase, the album was just as fun to make as it is to hear.
“For one thing, you don’t have to write the damn song,” Schlesinger said, laughing. “That takes a big part of the workload off. We always spend so long on Ivy records and just labor over them, so we just thought it would be fun for us to do something quick and not sweat it too much, and this was the perfect vehicle for that.”
He’s particularly happy with “Streets of Your Town,” a forgotten gem from 1988.
“You might call that ‘song No. 1’ for Ivy,” Schlesinger said. “That was the first song we all talked about when we first met (in the early 1990s), and it was always a blueprint for us. We always thought we’d do a cover of it at some point, and finally we did.”
Ivy didn’t consciously go for obscure songs to remake; it just happened that way, Schlesinger says.
“Obviously, there’s a bunch of stuff we tried from the early ’80s, which I guess were our ‘formative years,’ ” he said. “Some of the songs are new recordings and part of it is stuff we had actually done at different points over the last few years that were released in small ways.
“Some of them weren’t even songs we wouldn’t have necessarily picked on our own but we were asked to do them, like the Steely Dan cover, ‘Only a Fool Would Say That,’ which we were asked to do by the Farrelly brothers. It was for their movie ‘Me, Myself & Irene.’ The version you hear on ‘Guestroom’ is a bit more mellow; the one we did for the movie was perkier, more upbeat by our standards.”
Bands like House of Love and the Go-Betweens, both of whom never quite made a big splash in the States, have a special place in Schlesinger’s heart. He feels Ivy has something in common with them; like them, they’re more appreciated in Europe and Japan.
“The pop they do never really meant much here,” he said. “It doesn’t rock; it’s not testerone-driven enough. We’re probably just like them, a little wimpy.”
ON THE WEB: www.thebandivy.com.
BWF (before we forget): The Ivy album discography (to order, click on the titles) – “Realistic” (Seed, 1995); “Apartment Life” (Atlantic, 1997); “Long Distance” (Nettwerk, 2001); “Guestroom” (Minty Fresh, 2002).