The Great Beyond; An interview with Jeff Caudill about his R.E.M. covers EP

Singer-songwriter Jeff Caudill, the vocalist of Gameface and punk rock pioneer, returned with an R.E.M. covers EP, Waves of Conversation: The Songs of R.E.M., on February 5, 2018 via  Musicians Vs Cancer. Jeff has long had an obsession with the Georgian alternative titans and has managed to add his own heartfelt spin on these familiar classics.

Fans of Gameface and emotionally driven singers will feel like an old friend has returned to them. R.E.M. fans can rejoice that songs they know and love have been given a new lease of life with all the tender loving care they deserve. Additionally, all profits raised from the sale of the EP will go to Musicians Vs Cancer, an organization that works with established and up and coming musicians to raise money for cancer research.

Ghettoblaster recently caught up with Caudill to discuss the endeavor. This is what he told us.

When do you first recall having heard R.E.M.?

In the mid-’80s. I was in junior high and I was pretty heavy into metal and classic rock. I had friends that liked punk and new wave but I hadn’t quite gotten there yet. I think I first heard/saw them on MTV – the video for ‘So. Central Rain’. It sounded really fresh and new to me. I didn’t know what the singer was saying but his delivery and the jangly guitars spoke to me. I loved how authentic they were and how they carried themselves as a band. R.E.M. was certainly the catalyst that sent me down the indie and punk road that I’m still on 30 years later.

So you believe that R.E.M. had a punk spirit?

Definitely. I loved their unwavering dedication and creativity during the IRS years. I’ve always looked to them as a sort of blueprint for how to be a band. I imagine it was hard to stay in that mindset after selling millions of records on a major label. After ‘Green’, the catalog becomes a little spotty, but I think they navigated fame better than most bands.

Which of their tracks or LPs has had the longest lasting impact on you as a songwriter?

Their first four albums, Murmur, Reckoning, Fables of The Reconstruction and Life’s Rich Pageant are perfect as far as I’m concerned. I can listen to those any day, any time and they still stand up. Every song.

When did you come to the decision to do this?

I had known Peter from Musicians Vs Cancer for a while. He’s been involved with various indie projects in the UK for many years. When he pitched me the idea of covering a band that influenced me I was very interested, and when he suggested that profits would go to cancer research I was sold.

Which of the tracks on the EP are you most proud of and why?

I’m quite proud of all of it, but I especially love ‘The Great Beyond’ because I got my daughter and Goddaughter to sing on it. I recorded it all myself at my home studio. It certainly has a lo-fi quality but I think it works for what it is.

Has anyone from the R.E.M. camp provided feedback on this effort? If so, what was it?

I haven’t reached out to anyone but I would love to know what they think.

Have you performed any of these songs live?

Not really. I sort of stumbled through ’Try Not To Breathe’ at a solo acoustic show last summer though.

Are you writing a follow up to your last official EP yet?

I’m always writing. I don’t have any solid plans for another release at the moment. I’ll have to give it some time and see how things shape up. Life has a way of taking its time sometimes.