Over the past four years, Kerry Pastine & the Crime Scene have released three albums and an EP worth of original material. Some of the band’s greasy, edgy and cinematic music could fit into a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack. But for I Make My Own Luck, the band’s new six-song EP that’s coming out this week, dynamic frontwoman Pastine has recorded four covers from the late ’60s.
“We never do covers, because when you’re an original band, you’re like, ‘Oh, we’re not supposed to do covers,’” she says. “I miss doing covers. And we’ve been really inspired this year. When you lose friends or things happen in life as you get older, you’re like, ‘We should just find our friends and do duets.’”
And so they did.
One of those friends was Eddie Clendening, who played rockabilly around Denver before going on to play Elvis Presley in a Broadway production of Million Dollar Quartet and to sing on the Dolly Parton/Porter Wagoner song “Better Move It on Home.” Clendening was on his way from Los Angeles to Chicago to star in a production of Heartbreak Hotel and stopped in Denver to see his mother. Pastine and Crime Scene guitarist and co-founder Paul Shellooe invited him over for a few beers, and they recorded the rockabilly-fueled “Better Move It” the old-school way, with both Pastine and Clendening singing into the same microphone.
“We just laughed our asses off doing this hilarious duet,” Pastine says. “It’s kind of like Dolly Parton’s version. She’s yelling at him to get his ass home, and she’s stirring up the gravy. And she’s all pissed off. ‘I’m sorry, honey, but I got a little distracted at the bar. I’m hauling ass down the highway.’ She’s like, ‘You’d better get your ass home.’ It’s funny.”
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Pastine says it’s in the same vein as the duet she did with Railbenders frontman Jim Dalton on “Summer Wine,” which Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra first recorded in the 1967. She feels that they did justice to the originals while injecting their own personalities into the new cuts.
The other two covers on the new EP were inspired by Pastine and Shellooe’s visits to Mile High Soul Club, the monthly northern soul, R&B and funk night at Syntax Physic Opera.
“We like to go there all the time when we can,” Shellooe says. “They’ve been inspiring us with these cool finds. What’s cool is how deep [the DJs] dig. I find as a musician it’s totally inspiring. What makes music magical, I guess, is everybody’s interpretation, including doing these covers and trying to do them justice. It still comes out sounding like you.”
One track they heard at Soul Club was an obscure version of “Fever” by Bobby Freeman that DJ Steve Cervantes spun.
“Every time we go to Soul Club, we dance to it,” Shellooe says. “We thought, ‘Why is this version so cool?’ We’ve kind of messed around with it, but...I think we were at Soul Club and really tried to decode why this recording was so cool. It’s fun to listen really closely and go, ‘Oh, yeah, I can hear the drummer doing something that you wouldn’t really expect.’ Just not a lot of guitar in it. Bobby Freeman’s vocal style is just so cool.”
Pastine has performed “Fever” based on the Peggy Lee version before, but they used Freeman’s raunchier rocking version as a framework to build on, with Pastine recording backing vocals as well. Pastine and Shellooe also heard “Beggin’,” popularized by the Four Seasons, at Soul Club, and recorded their own soul-tinged take for the new EP.
While Pastine and her band have proved on previous recordings that they know their way around cinematic rock and swanky rockabilly, the two original tracks on I Make My Own Luck veer more toward soul, particularly the Motown-steeped “Joy,” which features some backing doo-wop vocals from Pastine’s daughter, Joy.
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Pastine says she wrote the song for her daughter and notes that she tries to bring to joy to the world with music.
“When we do these live shows, I like to get these kinds of chants going where we test the fire,” Pastine says. “The whole place is just lit, and I’m saying, ‘You’ve got to let it go!’ They’re saying, ‘You’ve got to let it go!’ and I’m singing it back, and they’re singing it back to me.”
Shellooe adds that Pastine tells the audience to think of one thing that they want to let go. “There’s something cathartic about doing that soul thing and screaming at the top of their lungs to let it go,” he says.
“I say, ‘Welcome to the church of rock and roll. We’re here to elevate your soul,’” Pastine says. “It’s fun, because they do like the interaction, and they do like the conversation, and they do like the connection, and they need it really bad right now. So when the ‘Joy’ song came out, we were like, ‘What could people sing to, and what would make them feel joyful?’ It just kind of connected with me writing the song about Joy. When you hear that, you think about how people could sing that out loud — and naming my daughter Joy.”
Kerry Pastine & the Crime Scene EP release party, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, August 16, Syntax Physic Opera, 554 South Broadway, $10.