Louisiana’s Thou have a long history of putting their own intense, sludgy spin on other band’s songs. Throughout their decade-plus stretch of recorded music, they’ve tackled influences such as Nirvana and Black Sabbath, as well as contemporaries like Pygmy Lush, though the group has said on various occasions that, aside from Nirvana, there’s one artist that everyone in the band agrees on: Fiona Apple. And that includes the band’s longtime roadie, Derek Zimmer, who once obtained a free ticket to one of her shows in Seattle by reciting the entirety of her second album When the Pawn… and that same night ended up meeting her after being seated next to her family. “Remember that scene in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure where he trails the V.I.P.s onto the Warner Bros. lot?” he reflects. “Well, it was sorta like that. Sneaking backstage with a family at a Fiona Apple concert? This would no doubt be my masterpiece, my gatecrashing opus.”
In fact, nearly a decade ago, the band had even planned an entire record’s worth of Fiona Apple covers that will probably never end up being released. As vocalist Bryan Funck recalls, the execution didn’t work out quite as well as planned.
“Since we first started touring, people seemed really preoccupied with the way we looked. We weren’t big, burly, bearded, tattooed metalheads draped in black denim and leather; and we cared more about Nirvana and Pearl Jam than Iron Maiden or Motorhead,” Funck says. “We all have a pretty wide range of musical interests that doesn’t quite overlap; Fiona Apple is one musician we can all agree on. So we thought it would clarify things a bit—and stir the pot with any chuckleheads—if our next tribute record was to Fiona Apple. I think we learned four or five songs, worked them through a practice, and gave up. It just seemed too farcical, too much like a parody, or like one of those nu metal covers of a pop song. We certainly have no interest in turning a deep-rooted, honest love of Fiona Apple’s music into a joke.”
With the recent release of Fiona Apple’s long-awaited fifth album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, the most talked-about non-metal release of the past month, it seemed appropriate to catch up with Thou about their own Fiona favorites. We caught up with the band—Funck, guitarists Matthew Thudium and Andy Gibbs, bassist Mitch Wells and drummer Tyler Coburn (guitarist KC Stafford wasn’t available to contribute at the time of publication)—to hear about their favorite Fiona Apple tracks. Each member reflected on which song stood out most to them and why (or why not). See each Thou member’s picks below.
MATTHEW: “Slow Like Honey”
“But there are so many favorites off the first three records, it’s hard to pin one down.”
ANDY: “To Your Love” or “Shadowboxer”
“Honestly, I don’t have a ton of deep thoughts about my faves.”
MITCH: “Not About Love”
“In high school, a girl broke up with me and then told me to listen to “Never is a Promise” to get across why she wanted to break up. That was… rough.”
BRYAN: “Sally’s Song”
“Her cover of the track off of the A Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. Even though it’s not technically a Fiona Apple song, the lyrics read as if she wrote it. Probably my favorite because it’s one of the few songs she does that I haven’t driven into the ground with relentless repeat listens, so it still sounds fresh every time I put it on.”
TYLER: “Get Him Back”
“I don’t have a very special memory associated with that song besides listening to it over and over again in my car. My most vivid Fiona Apple memory is, on an overnight drive after a Thou show, I was driving and Matthew was riding shotgun. It was probably 3 a.m. and I think everyone in the back was asleep. I put on Tidal with the thought that maybe Matthew would be bummed because I knew he was the only member of the band that wasn’t down to do a Fiona Apple cover when it had been brought up. But within 30 seconds of the first song he was enthusiastically singing along. He knew every word to every song and was clearly loving it. I guess because Matthew doesn’t drive, I was a lot less aware of his music tastes, whereas Bryan, Mitch and Andy’s music tastes have been beaten relentlessly into my brain on punishingly long drives. Turns out Matthew wasn’t down to cover Fiona Apple because he thought we’d fuck it up, but he was clearly as big a fan as anyone else.”
Words by Jeff Terich