There are cover bands and then there are groups like Walk Off the Earth. The quirky folk-pop act turns original songs inside out.
Walk Off the Earth makes their covers their own. The Canadian band’s inventive version of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” with each of its five members playing one guitar together, earned 70 million YouTube views in two months and now is up to 184.6 million views. Their version earned praise from the recording artist and a contract from Columbia.
Walk Off The Earth has covered Adele’s “Hello,” Lorde’s “Royals” and Maroon 5’s “Payphone.” The group of multi-instrumentalists also writes and records their own material.
They’ll perform at The Ritz Nov. 7. Before then, percussionist Joel Cassady, who called from Orlando, Fla., offers his take on a recent popular cover, details what the act is working on in the studio and reveals what song is the group’s holy grail.
Q: So many bands deliver reverent covers but your group goes the other way. What led you there?
A: We want to make the songs our own. I love covers of bands that are so different than the originals.
Q: What do you think of Weezer’s near note-for-note version of Toto’s “Africa?”
A: I think Weezer killed it. We’re Weezer fans. Weezer did something cool. Weezer fans wanted the band to do a cover of “Africa.” They approached it like a bar band and had fun with it.
Q: What makes for a great cover?
A: At its root, it must be a great song to begin with. You take that song and you put your own signature on it.
Q: What song have you always wanted to cover but haven’t recorded?
A: That would be Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which is our holy grail. We’ve been trying to find the right way to cover it! We just haven’t discovered that yet. We have yet to figure out a way to alter it. Maybe it’s too perfect a song to change. Maybe we should just take the Weezer approach and just sing it as it is. Maybe we should just have fun with it and sing it like it’s recorded. We’ll figure it out eventually.
Q: You also write and record original songs. Why not just leave it at covers?
A: We want to challenge ourselves. We’re more than capable to write our own material. We’re working on some new songs now.
Q: What is the ratio to covers/originals at your shows, 50/50?
A: That’s exactly what is unless we’re doing a corporate event and there’s more covers then. We’re about balance.
Q: What are you working on?
A: We just finished off a holiday album ( “Subscribe to the Holidays,” which drops Nov. 16). Holiday songs are fun. We’re about to get into the season and it’s a great time of year, which is filled with holiday songs. There’s never enough holiday songs, right?
Q: What feedback have you received from the artists you’ve covered?
A: It’s been positive. We received a note from Maroon 5. Taylor Swift put us on her video screen (Walk Off The Earth’s clip of “Shake It Off”) during her “Red” tour, and so she liked what we did. The feedback has been great and then there are the fans, who apparently really enjoy what we do. We’re in an amazing place. We don’t take this for granted. We know how incredible this is. There are so many crazy talented recording artists, who don’t have a platform like we do. We do our best since people spend their hard-earned money on us. We’re fortunate.
Who: Walk Off The Earth
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 7
Where: The Ritz, 2820 Industrial Drive, Raleigh
Info: 919-424-1400 or ritzraleigh.com