Last week, Richmond, Virginia's Inter Arma released their covers album, Garbers Days Revisited. The album, named after their long-standing practice space, features a wide variety of tracks from various bands and songwriters. The variety in selection parallels the band's diversity in sound and style. The Virginia band has been hard to pin down over the years—though many people have tried (and frustratingly failed.)
Though the band states these covers were compiled for the fun of recording and releasing them, personally the covers speak to the influences of a truly singular band in modern metal. Inter Arma manages to turn each of these songs into their own. From a blackened Hüsker Dü take to a roaring Neil Young cover; from beating Venom at their own game to taking on a Prince classic, the gifted group turns the often maligned notion of a covers record into an exciting and varied show of musicianship.
Metal Injection briefly spoke to drummer, TJ Childers, about Garbers Days Revisited and the process behind selecting these covers as well as life during these times. Pick up the album from Relapse Records now and listen to it in its entirety.
You all are releasing Garbers Days Revisited following a live recording of a show from 2017 at Club Congress in Tucson, Arizona. These are both in response to events and times surrounding COVID-19. How are you all managing during this trying time?
Childers: To be clear, Garbers Days Revisited was recorded last August and at that point, we certainly had no idea that the album would be released in the middle of a pandemic. So while it wasn't a response, I hope that some folks will enjoy it and forget for 40 minutes or so about the fact that we're in the middle of this shit storm of craziness. The Live at Club Congress was a nice little coincidence of timing. Our beautiful friend Dallas from Pelican emailed us and said he had a live set of ours recorded from the tour we did with them a few years ago and asked if we wanted it. Just good timing.
What goes on in your practice space and what the writing and recording process for Inter Arma looks like now or how it’s evolved over the years?
Childers: Writing is the same as it's always been. Somebody will come in with a riff or two, we'll jam on it, see how it feels and go from there. If it don't feel good it ain't good! When we go to record the vast majority of the songs are complete, usually, only one or two will be pieced together in the studio and sometimes the interludes will be written in the studio.
The diversity in the covers selected I think speaks largely to the diversity of your music over the years. What was the decision-making process like for picking these songs in particular?
Childers: There were a few that were definites like "Southern Man" and "Runnin' Down a Dream" and then some that were discussed a bit more like "March of the Pigs." We didn't really set out for the songs to be diverse, it was just the tunes we all dig and have some sort of meaning to us.
Were there other covers you had considered for this record or ones that you have performed outside of your practice space?
Childers: Yeah, we've done a fuck ton of covers over the years ranging from Metallica, CCR, Misfits, Cock Sparrer, Minor Threat… there are more, I'm just forgetting. We could've put any number of other songs on there I suppose, these were just the ones we dug the most.
What are you hoping that people take away most from this covers album that they may not have fully understood or realized with your original songs and albums?
Childers: Well, our only hope was for people to enjoy the tunes, honestly. I guess people will see that we as a band enjoy a wide range of music. We all listen to all kinds of music and that's what we feel art should be: taking all of your influences and life experiences and channeling them all into your own form of self-expression. Now people will get to hear a couple of those influences and how our beer-soaked brains interpreted them.
I asked members of Inter Arma to briefly discuss what went into picking each cover for this album as well as their individual thoughts and stories surrounding
Ministry – "Scarecrow"
Mike Paparo: "I love Ministry and I think "Scarecrow" is a perfect cover for us. I’m probably wrong."
Neil Young – "Southern Man"
Inter Arma: "We're all big Neil fans and this one seemed like an obvious to us. It's been part of our live repertoire for quite a while now. Long live Neil!"
Cro-Mags – "Hard Times"
Steven Russell (Dirt): "I've sat on more porches and listened to that record more times and drank more beers to that record than I can even begin to count."
Nine Inch Nails – "March of the Pigs"
Childers: "I got that tape when it came out and listened to it non-fucking-stop. That was the best song on the record for me because it was the fastest. I was 11. Not much has changed…"
Hüsker Dü – "The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill"
Paparo: "It’s my favorite Hüsker Dü song and I always felt like it could be molded into a compact black metally tune. Am I crazy? You be the judge."
Venom – "In League With Satan"
Paparo: "VENOM IS SERIOUS BUSINESS AND THIS IS THE MOST SERIOUS OF ALL COVERS."
Tom Petty – "Runnin' Down A Dream"
Inter Arma: "If you don't like Tom Petty something's wrong with you."
Prince – "Purple Rain"
Childers: "Okay… I'm a huge Prince fan. This was something that I'd been wanting to do for a while and was never meant to be heard by the public. I know how Prince felt about people covering his music and I figured if I was gonna do one of his songs, why not shoot for the moon? Knowing full well I can't replicate that vocal performance (which was done live on stage, by the way) I decided to get very drunk and record the vocals.
They were done in one take and it shows. They're pitchy as hell and laughable at best. Again, I didn't think anyone, outside of buddies during a drinking session, would hear this. Some people at Relapse heard and thought it should be on the record. After some back and forth and a discussion on our end we decided to go with it. I still don't feel great about it but it's fucking out there so what the fuck?"