Under the covers
Getting wild with the Rezidudes
By Michael Witthaus firstname.lastname@example.org
The Rezidudes don’t want to change music, just rearrange it. A cover band, but not the kind typically hired for weddings, they like to give familiar songs “a swift kick in the ass,” says the band’s rhythm guitarist, Kevin Cornish.
“If you’re 25 to 30 and on up, you inherently know all the words — we just do them Rezidudes style,” Cornish says.
The band is putting the finishing touches on A Beat Off, their second album. Among the songs receiving the double-timed drums and hyper-caffeinated guitar treatment are “Hotel California,” “My Favorite Things” and The Beatles’ “All My Loving.” Easy, fun targets all, but the album also includes selections that every rocker loves — “Fortunate Son,” “American Girl” — done straight up, albeit with the pedal pushed to the floor.
“I’ve always been firm about the fact that we’re not a parody band,” says Cornish. “We like taking songs that might be guilty pleasures, where if you’re driving down the road with your buddy you might change the station. A lot of them are just generally good songs and we make them a lot heavier and a little bit faster.”
Kevin Cornish was always a fan of Gang Green, the Ramones, Wargasm and other hard and heavy bands, and he’s played guitar casually since his high school days. “It was always a highlight in my life, but I never looked at it as anything other than something to do on the weekends, get together and jam with my friends,” he says.
For several years, Cornish ran the Washington Square in Miami Beach, a music venue that he says did “three to seven bands a night, seven nights a week” up until its closing in 1993. The Mavericks signed their record deal at the club; Primus, Smashing Pumpkins and Marilyn Manson were among the acts that appeared there.
After moving from Miami to New Hampshire, he opened KC’s Rib Shack in Manchester in 2000. Cornish hired the Fools to play the restaurant’s second New Year’s party. The North Shore band was broken up at the time, repeatedly turning down offers to play big places like Hampton Beach Casino. They finally relented when Cornish upped the offer to a princely $3,500 for one night’s work, beer and barbecue included. “I knew I could get enough friends at 80 bucks a head,” he says. “If I had 60 people come, I basically covered my nut. I feel somewhat responsible for them playing out now.”
“We may be Fools, but we’re not idiots,” recalls lead singer Mike Girard in his recently published biography. Girard agrees with Cornish’s assessment — he credits the show with launching the Fools’ post-millennial incarnation. “The gig went well [and] we knew instantly after that, we had to put the band back together.”
When current Rezidudes guitarist Jim Koury had asked him who was going to open the show, Cornish told him no one yet. “Why don’t we?” asked Koury.
“At the time we didn’t have really a band together,” says Cornish. “So we called a bunch of these guys and we got together on a Sunday afternoon and put together 15 songs and we’ve been playing every week ever since. We called ourselves The Stools that night.”
They made a record in 2007, more as a souvenir for friends than a serious attempt to document the band.
“It was never intended to make it out of the front seat of my car,” Cornish says. “We didn’t put a lot of time and effort into it. The next thing I know our publicist in Florida is calling asking to shop it around.”
Welcome to the Suck went on to achieve modest international success. “I have a 75-page book of all the press we got,” Cornish says. “A lot the reviews were in German and Japanese that I couldn’t even read — I could just see the little picture of the CD.”
For A Beat Off, more care was paid to the recording process — it’s actually a complete reworking of a record made and scrapped in 2008. “This album sounds so much better than the first one,” Cornish says. “The more I listened to it, I wasn’t happy with it. I talked to the guys and talked to Screaming Ferret [the band’s label] and asked to start over.”
With the record almost done except for a few overdubs, the band is looking forward to playing out with more regularity. For the past year, their gigs were limited to Halloween and New Year’s shows at KC’s Rib Shack. The bad news is there won’t be a New Year’s show this year; Cornish recently took a shine to Grace Potter and plans to be in Vermont to see her band that night. The good news is that the Rezidudes are cleared to play out now that Jim Koury has finished making a new Meliah Rage album.
The challenge lies in finding places to play. Currently, they are scheduled to perform at Mad Bob’s in Manchester on Saturday, Jan. 22.
“We’re kind of caught in a world of not having a lot of venues,” Cornish says. “We’re not punk enough for the punk kids or metal enough for the metalheads. We’re a cover band that doesn’t fit into the cover band genre.”