The Bird and the Bee Announce Van Halen Tribute Album

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June 11, 2019 at 10:46 am Quote #60599


The Bird and the Bee Announce Van Halen Tribute Album With ‘Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love’ Cover
By Claire Shaffer
June 11, 2019 10:35AM ET

Indie pop duo The Bird and the Bee have announced that they’re releasing a Van Halen tribute album, sharing the single “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love.” Interpreting the Masters Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen will be out on August 2nd.

The album will be in the style of the duo’s 2010 record Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates, crafting a band’s classics into a new genre. Vocalist Inara George and multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin (who’s produced for Adele, Sia, Beck, Pink and more) rework “Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love,” from Van Halen’s 1978 self-titled debut, into a lush synth-pop jam that skews closer to the Eighties. The duo previously released their cover of “Panama,” which will also appear on the album.

“When I want to listen to hard-rock music there’s still nothing that hits me like they do,” said Kurstin in a statement. “Every time I hear them it takes me back to when I first found them on the radio, and it felt so dangerous to me–like they were from a whole other world. It would be so great if people who would never usually listen to Van Halen heard this record, and then ended falling in love with them too.”

The Bird and the Bee will embark on a 15-date tour later this year, kicking off at Los Angeles’ John Anson Ford Theater on August 2nd. The opening show will feature Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters on drums and Justin Meldal-Johnsen on bass. Inara George will then continue the tour with a backing band, stopping in Chicago, Brooklyn, Birmingham, Austin and more before ending the tour in San Francisco.

The Bird and the Bee 2019 Tour Dates

August 2 — Los Angeles, CA @ John Anson Ford Theater
August 11 — St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
August 12 — Chicago, IL @ Sleeping Village
August 14 — Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Smalls Theatre
August 15 — Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre
August 16 — Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live
August 17 — Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
August 20 — Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
August 21 — Atlanta, GA @ Aisle 5
August 22 — Birmingham, AL @ The Saturn
August 24 — Dallas, TX @ Trees
August 25 — Austin, TX @ Parish
August 28 — Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
August 29 — San Diego, CA @ Casbah
August 30 — San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop

June 11, 2019 at 11:41 am Quote #60600


Interpreting the Masters Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen Tracklist
1. Runnin’ With The Devil
2. Panama
3. Hot For Teacher
4. Eruption
5. Jump
6. Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love
7. Jamie’s Cryin’
8. Unchained
9. You Really Got Me
10. Diamond Dave

June 11, 2019 at 1:08 pm Quote #60601



June 11, 2019 at 10:25 pm Quote #60606


I like the ‘Ain’t Talking ‘Bout Love’ Cover.

When you turn on your stereo, does it return the favor?

July 5, 2019 at 9:56 am Quote #60665

July 17, 2019 at 10:10 am Quote #60698


The Japanese release includes a bonus track, “Everybody Wants Some”

July 31, 2019 at 8:59 am Quote #60720

July 31, 2019 at 6:46 pm Quote #60722


Review: Bird and Bee cover Van Halen — no guitars, much fun
By PABLO GORONDI, Associated Press July 31, 2019 Updated: July 31, 2019 11:45 a.m.

The Bird and the Bee, “Interpreting the Masters, Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen” (No Expectations/Release Me Records)

An album of Van Halen covers without guitars. Wait, what?

Singer Inara George and producer-keyboardist Greg Kurstin, who make up The Bird and the Bee, carry off the intriguing concept with plenty of fun, grace and aplomb, focusing mostly on Van Halen’s debut album and some of the band’s other big hits from the David Lee Roth era, as well as a fresh take on their own homage to the spandex-clad vocalist.

Opener “Runnin’ With the Devil” is elevated by George’s multi-tracked vocals on the refrain — a reminder of the greatness of ex-Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony’s backing vocals — and a just-right combination of the original’s stomp with a lighter touch. “Panama” gets a dancefloor makeover and what sounds like a solo of tuned bottles.

Kurstin, a seven-time Grammy-winning producer who has worked with everyone from Adele to Sia to Beck, has a wild piano solo on “Hot for Teacher,” which features a spoken-word cameo by Beck. That leads right into “Eruption,” where Kurstin turns Eddie Van Halen’s flurry of notes into a quasi-classical piano piece.

It was shocking when Van Halen featured keyboards on their biggest hit, “Jump,” and while George sings the synth lines beautifully, it could have been a neat twist to play some on guitar. The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” was Van Halen’s first single and sounds so good here that George and Kurstin should target Ray and Dave Davies’ band for their next volume of interpretations.

“Diamond Dave,” the final song on the 10-track album, pays tribute to Roth. Even if the lyrics, written when he rejoined Van Halen in 2007, show their age, the ballad is a fitting closer to an album where the Bird and the Bee’s love for Van Halen requires no euphemisms.

August 2, 2019 at 12:28 pm Quote #60724


They were on James Corden’s late night show with Dave Grohl on drums. Looks like this album is getting some traction.

Stay Frosty

August 3, 2019 at 11:42 am Quote #60728


August 3, 2019 at 11:55 am Quote #60729


Finally Unchained: the bird and the bee Tackle Van Halen’s Legacy
Evan Sawdey
01 Aug 2019

In 2010, the quirky electropop outfit the bird and the bee scored a hit with an album of Hall & Oates covers. Now, almost a decade later, the duo reinvent the hair metal machismo of Van Halen into one of the most joyous albums you’ll hear all year.

Against all odds, it was a hit.

the bird and the bee certainly had a reputation when they showed up on the scene in 2007, the duo garnering kudos for a quirky pop style that anchored Greg Kurstin’s expertly overstuffed pop productions with Inara George’s powerfully expressive voice and lyrics.

In 2010, they dropped an unusual concept record called Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates. Effectively taking hits from Hall & Oates entire career and filtering them through a modern pop aesthetic, it was a striking album that not only paid loving homage to the ’80s pop titans but also allowed the bird and the bee’s distinct style to shine in a whole new light. “She’s Gone”, “Private Eyes”, “Maneater”, “Rich Girl”, and “Kiss on My List” were all giving striking reinventions, and the gambit paid off: to date, it’s the duo’s highest-charting album, and Spotify lists their take on “I Can’t Go For That” as one of the group’s most-streamed tracks.

Of course, the bird and the bee’s discography is so much grander than a single cover record, even as people kept prodding the duo for hints as to what a “Volume 2″ would consist of for years. The group’s Recreation Love album dropped in 2015 and Inara put out her fourth solo effort Dearest Everybody in 2018. Greg Kurstin ended up working with little-known artist Adele on her album 25 and may have won a Grammy or four for his efforts.

In early June 2019, the bird and the bee announced that Interpreting the Masters Volume 2 was happening, and this time, they were tackling Van Halen.

While reaction to this announcement was nothing short of ecstatic, true fans know that the group’s love of Eddie, Alex, and the rest of the gang could be traced back to their 2009 sophomore album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future. The album featured the song “Diamond Dave”, which was a love letter to VH’s notorious frontman. “Diamond Dave / No one can hold a candle / Nothing else is quite the same,” Inara cooed over Kurstin’s string-laden, explosive production, and it’s true: as a frontman, few could top his outrageous antics.

“I think we threw a bunch of ideas out there but nothing that really stuck until we landed on Van Halen,” says Kurstin, speaking to PopMatters. “We had the song ‘Diamond Dave’, from our album Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future, about David Lee Roth. Having that history made the decision seem right.”

While Hall & Oates’ peak-era was accessible pop-rock, Van Halen is one of the most foundational rock bands of the hair metal era. While their knack for a pop hook is undeniable, songs with leering subject matter like “Hot for Teacher” are suddenly recast as different beasts under Kurstin and George’s gaze. (“Teacher”, especially, gets assisted by a winking, leering cameo from Kurstin’s frequent collaborator Beck.)

The way Inara George tells it, the project didn’t come into focus until they started work on “Running With the Devil”. “I’m not sure this is the first song we started working on,” she tells us, “but it was the first song where we found our voice in the project. It’s such an amazing song and rethinking it and rejoicing the chords kind of set the tone for the whole album for us.”

“Runnin’ with the Devil” is one of five songs pulled form Van Halen’s iconic debut album, along with their Kinks cover of “You Really Got Me” and even the Eddie Van Halen star-making instrumental showcase that is “Eruption”, here given a wild piano-and-drums reinvention under Kurstin’s watch. “I think ‘Eruption’ is such an important part of Van Halen’s first album,” notes Kurstin. “It really shows how unique Eddie’s guitar playing is. Not only is it technically innovative but has such a beautiful movement to the chords outlined in the arpeggios. I thought it suited the grand piano and would bring out the more classical side to it.”

“The debut Van Halen album is the first one I ever heard which turned me into a big fan,” Kurstin admits. “I do love all of the Dave-era albums, but that first one might just be my favorite.”

So with over half of the album cuts devoted to Van Halen’s debut, why not just go the distance and remake that record from scratch? “We originally planned on doing the first album from start to finish,” notes Kurstin, “but we couldn’t pass up doing some of the big ’80s jams, so it turned into more of a greatest hits tribute.”

For such meticulous deconstruction of a beloved discography, Inara George notes there was no overarching intent on tackling their versions of the songs. Instead, they found their groove within each standalone work. “I think we always just look at each song as its own unique entity,” George says. “Part of the fascination in doing these cover albums is that we can look at how a song is crafted at what works about it. What was it about these songs that Van Halen wrote that just lit up the whole world. And then how can we take that same song and put our spin on it.”

Of course, right at the end of the new record, the twosome acknowledges their history with Van Halen by covering their own track “Diamond Dave”, this time giving it a loungey, piano-ballad vibe. “It’s kind of funny to think that we wrote that song so many years ago,” notes George. “I don’t think we had any idea that we’d ever do a full album devoted to David Lee Roth era Van Halen, we hadn’t even come up with the idea of our first Interpreting The Masters. Of course, there is way more personal attachment [this time around]. I also think it’s a testament to the power of manifesting something.”

On top of all of this, the bird and the bee are heading out on tour following the release, guested with Alex Lilly and Samantha Sidley (and, due to his busy schedule, sans Kurstin per usual). There’s even a special show in L.A. that will feature Dave Grohl on drums. Of course, now that the bird and the bee have toured without Kurstin before (save maybe a duet via iPad as the last song), have the fans gotten used to Inara leading the charge on a live stage?

“We’ve never been a band that’s toured much, so our live show hasn’t been seen by that many people,” George jokes. “I’m sure the audience misses seeing Greg, so we try to stay as true to the sound of the records as we can. And then we add him in through the iPad. It’s a fun way to incorporate him into the show.

“And yes, we’ll add some Van Halen,” she notes. “It will probably be three-to-four songs? Still working it out.”

Interpreting the Masters Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen
the bird and the bee
No Expectations / Release Me
2 August 2019

August 3, 2019 at 12:51 pm Quote #60730


The Bird and the Bee Shine on ‘Interpreting the Masters Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen’ (ALBUM REVIEW)
August 2, 2019 by Steve Ovadia in Album Reviews

Part of being a true Van Halen fan is always feeling the band never gets its due. Sure, people rave about Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing. And I’ve never met someone without an opinion about David Lee Roth versus Sammy Hagar. The band has sold tons of albums, but does anyone respect them as songwriters? Well, there’s me and Inara George and Greg Kurstin, better known as The Bird and the Bee. On Interpreting the Masters Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen, they thoughtfully and respectfully revisit the music of Van Halen through the lens of their own delicate, keyboard-driven pop.

The album (volume 1 was dedicated to Hall and Oates) focuses on the Roth years, which makes sense emotionally. The first Roth/Van Halen epoch is what captured the attention of so many. Plus, a lot of the big hits of the Hagar era are keyboard-heavy, probably making the work of translating the songs less interesting to The Bird and the Bee. Taking the mostly guitar-driven songs and making them work for the keyboard is a fascinating act of mental gymnastics. People often forget that Eddie began his musical career as a classically trained pianist. His musical DNA is keyboard-derived, even as he avoided the instrument for the early part of his career. So here we have The Bird and the Bee extracting something from the music that’s present, but not necessarily explicit. It’s a musical excavation.

Take “Eruption,” Eddie’s classically-flavored instrumental tour-de-force that pretty much redefined the rock guitar solo for generations of guitarists. Here, arranged for piano, it simply sounds classical, like the type of thing people in tuxedos and long dresses might watch in a stuffy hall. The Bird and the Bee have taken Eddie full circle to his roots. The piano arrangement has the added bonus of bringing out the beauty of the piece. Hearing “Eruption” on guitar, one tends to focus on the speed of the guitar. But on the piano, you hear how pretty it sounds.

It’s also interesting to hear Van Halen’s lyrics, which have the subtlety of a mid-July keg stand, given a bit of refinement. In Roth’s mouth, “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love” oozes sex and physical attraction, a catcall over two chords. The Bird and the Bee recast it as sexless New Wave, the song’s guitar hook now a synth riff that would make Robert Smith jealous. They find a depth that’s not apparent in the original, but still manage to slip an orgasmic yell into the final chorus, perhaps powerless to completely ignore the song’s inherent sleaze.

The album also tackles “You Really Got Me,” a Kinks’ cover Van Halen included on their debut. While the song is probably as much Van Halen’s as the Kinks by now, it feels a little outside the scope of the project, as does the inclusion of “Diamond Dave,” a Bird and the Bee original (from 2009′s Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future), reworked for piano. These are minor quibbles, though. Even the less successful covers, which almost veer into Billy Murray, Nick The Lounge Singer territory, are still interesting, revealing a new way to hear the original. The album works because The Bird and the Bee love Van Halen. Because who else would re-create the “Jump” keyboard riff chorally, making it seem like it’s being performed by angels from heaven? The answer is someone finally giving Van Halen their proper due.

August 3, 2019 at 1:04 pm Quote #60731

King Edward

Agony!!!!!! Not a fan!

August 4, 2019 at 9:49 am Quote #60735


August 3, 2019 5:00PM PT
Concert Review: The Bird and the Bee Do Van Halen, Without Guitars and With Dave Grohl
Randall Park dropped in for a “Hot for Teacher” cameo as the Inara George- and Greg Kurstin-led ensemble played the John Anson Ford.
By Chris Willman

The Bird and the Bee, Inara George and Dave Grohl with Randall Park
CREDIT: Christopher Polk @POLKIMAGING/Shutterstock

The duo the Bird and the Bee released an album Friday that imagines what happens to the catalog of Van Halen, as guitar-centric a band as ever walked the earth, if you take out all the guitars. Not to mention what happens when you have a woman with one of the lovelier voices in pop, Inara George, reiterating vintage David Lee Roth lines like “You’ll get some leg tonight for sure!” with a figurative straight face and a literal smile. In “Interpreting the Masters, Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen,” they’re out to find the synth-pop, jazz fusion, cabaret and classical influences in the band’s music… oftentimes where none existed, and that’s okay.

At the John Anson Ford Amphitheater Friday night, though, where the Bird and the Bee were playing a release-day show, the ensemble sounded — or at least felt — suspiciously like a rock ‘n’ roll band, despite the best efforts of George and her musical partner, Greg Kurstin, to deviate from the path. It turns out that if you enlist Dave Grohl to play drums, as they did for this one-off, it becomes rock with a capital R anyway, no matter how far Eddie’s Frankenstrat has been banished.

Making a much shorter guest appearance was actor Randall Park, playing the role Beck did on the new album, of the title role in “Hot for Teacher,” with the same sophomoric jokes about turning to page 69 of “Moby Dick.” (Park did add his own contribution: “All right, class, your assignment for tonight is to log onto Netflix and watch a movie called ‘Always Be My Baby. Tomorrow there will be a quiz.” Even with the genders switched so that it’s a young woman, George, doing the “Ohhh my gawwd” lusting, “Hot for Teacher” is still a brave choice to revive in the #MeToo era, though it will be surely be grandfathered in for as long as there is a classic rock format. Hearing Kurstin play a perfect jazz piano solo in the middle of it, and then seeing the group’s trio of female backup singer-musicians come out to join George in some choreography in front of Grohl’s power drumming, only heightened the absurdity about which year, genre or era of wokeness we were in.

There was plenty of other mirth to go around during the 100-minute set, including snippets of “Funkytown” and, yes, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” briefly sprinkled into the VH material. But George’s and Kurstin’s respect for the material was meant to be implicitly clear — and, near the end, as a safety precaution, George made it explicit. “There’s no snarkiness at all,” she said. “Not that you thought that. We just wanted to make it clear that we love these songs.”

The Bird and the Bee, Inara George and Dave Grohl
CREDIT: Christopher Polk @POLKIMAGING/Shutterstock

And yet they couldn’t resist pulling off one other good high jink. As “Jump” seemed to have come to an end, George handed the mic to Grohl, who launched into a lengthy monolog as Kurstin played the introductory instrumental bed of John Lennon’s “Imagine” on the piano underneath him. “You might not imagine that a drummer like me would play with a band like the Bird and the Bee, but I think herein lies the message,” he said. “It’s a message of togetherness and love hope and kindness for one another … and so I thought it would be appropriate to throw this song in the middle of the set just so that we can all celebrate that same love … If we all sing this song together,” he promised, that idealism could be crystallized, “and maybe we can even make it last forever.” With that, he started growling not “Imagine,” but a reprise of “Jump,” set to the tune of “Imagine.” “F–in’ jump,” he commanded, as the anthemic ballad version wound down, for inspirational emphasis.

(This musical-comedy bit of Grohl’s was pretty substantial for a guest drummer who came on board, George claimed, because “we put an ad in the Recycler and this guy called back, so we were like, okay.”)

There was more earnestness in some of the other songs. George has said she appreciates the sensitivity to the female gender that Diamond Dave brought to “Jamie’s Cryin’,” for instance. But even in the songs where there is more of a built-in ironic distance between whatever sensibilities George brings to the material as a seasoned mother of three and whatever Roth had on his mind as a barely post-teenaged king of the Gazzarri’s scene, she was clearly, as she said, not out to take the piss out of the material. If anything, it was a chance to put the piss back in, lending some mom’s-night-out swagger to the proceedings with her heightened physicality, as well as finding the existential sensitivity therein on an “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.”

George said she “wanted to talk about how many similarities Greg and I have to Van Halen. I can think of, like, two. We both grew up in L.A. We both play music. They like jazz, right? David Lee Roth and I have a similar style … but I’d say on a day-to-day basis, probably not,” she bragged/confessed. Actually, there was at least one doppelgänger tendency on display — Roth used to like getting his martial arts-style kicks on stage, of course, and so, Friday, did George, who at one point had a roadie bring a board out on stage for her to snap with her raised foot (she got it on the second try).

They do have maybe one other tangible thing in common, which is being lyricists of some wit, as George reminded everyone with a brief show-closing segment of actual Bird and the Bee material, including the estimable “F–ing Boyfriend,” plus “Diamond Dave,” the song they wrote about Roth a decade ago that presaged all this late ’00s love. George sang that with just Kurstin’s piano as accompaniment, cocktail jazz-style, and “You’re a Cad,” too, a swell Cole Porter-style tune from 10 years back that she said they’d never done in concert before. During these brief moments as an actual duo, without the horn section and multiple synths, you could wish these two had never become famous and had a simple, local act we could all go check out every week at the Dresden Room.

But that would neglect the glory of the analog synthesizers that Kurstin brought to the John Anson Ford to alternate with his jazz piano chops. The general musical m.o. of the Van Halen tribute, on record and in concert, seems to have been to avoid sounding like the original records but also not to introduce any sounds that couldn’t have been produced during the original VH era in the late ’70s and early ’80s. And so “Jamie’s Cryin’,” in all its newfound electronic glory, didn’t sound updated for the EDM era nearly so much as it sounded like it would have if Gary Numan had covered it. Parts of the show were about giving Van Halen extra dollops of Steely Dan chords and charts, and parts were about seeing how Moogy Kurstin could go in his arrangements — all topped by questions about the male-versus-female gaze in popular music that can be saved for another thinkpiece.

The Bird and the Bee, Greg Kurstin
CREDIT: Christopher Polk @POLKIMAGING/Shutterstock

Kurstin isn’t going on the road for the rest of the Bird and the Bee’s national August tour; being a superproducer has apparently put the kibosh on following the life of the touring musician, even for a month. But he seemed to be enjoying himself so much on stage at the John Anson that you wondered if he might be regretting that. Adele or Elton or McCartney or some other celebrity client may be calling, but are any of them going to allow him to indulge his Bill Evans fantasies in the middle of a retrofitted hard rock song? Anyway, all will be forgiven for bypassing the tour if they take less than 10 years between “Interpreting the Masters” volumes, as they did this last gap. There’s got to be another appropriately inappropriate catalog crying out for their touch.

August 4, 2019 at 7:40 pm Quote #60736


i love the horns in hot for teacher.


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