Epic Soundtracks Lives On 'GoodThings'
Before singer/songwriter Epic Soundtracks' death in 1997, the former Kevin Paul Godfrey compiled quite a discography, both as a member of influential cult-punks Swell Maps, a collaborator with other bBefore singer/songwriter Epic Soundtracks' death in 1997, the former Kevin Paul Godfrey compiled quite a discography, both as a member of influential cult-punks Swell Maps, a collaborator with other bands (the Jacobites, Crime and the City Solution) and as a solo artist.
As such, it's no surprise Soundtracks left behind an extensive backlog of songs that have yet to see the light of day. The first such collection is "GoodThings," which will be issued May 24 via the DBK Works label.
"If my brother hadn't died he would have used most, if not all of the songs on this LP for his new album," Soundtracks' brother/Swell Maps bandmate Nikki Sudden tells Billboard.com. "I was waiting for the right time to complete the rough recordings that he left behind. He recorded the tracks with Kevin Junior (Chamber Strings) in his flat in London. Then Kevin went back to the States and took the master with him. Kevin recorded and played with me after Epic's death but always hung onto the tape. We met up in Seattle in 2003 and talked about the possible release of the demoed material. You have to remember that these 4-track portastudio recordings were all that we had to work with."
Instead of adding new bits to the existing tracks, Sudden kept things "as is. Nothing was added to the demo recordings. All John Rivers and I did was to mix the tracks that Epic and Kevin had put down. Kevin took the tapes to a studio in California and got them remastered. I wish he hadn't because if we'd had the original masters to work from then we could have made the album even better. I think people should realize that what they'll hear sounds like a studio recording and not like a rough and toss demo."
Nearly a decade after his passing (which at the time, was attributed to a drug overdose/suicide), mystery still surrounds the actual cause of Soundtracks' death. "We don't know why he died and we will never know," explains Sudden. "Any references to suicide and to a drug overdose are unfounded. I had the task of sorting out my brother's London flat. After walking into the room where he died and making my peace with him, I consequently went through the whole place. There was no sign of any drug paraphernalia or a note or anything pointing to either of these misplaced ideas. My mother thinks Epic died of a broken heart, and I and all his close friends agree."
Soundtracks remained a prolific songwriter up until his passing. "My brother left boxes full of 1/4-inch reel to reel tapes, cassettes, DAT tapes, 8, 16 and 24 track tapes," Sudden says. "There will be further releases over the years but I need the time to sort through my brother's estate in full. One of the best songs he ever wrote, if not the best, is a number called 'Teenage Heart.' He left behind a fully mixed band recording of this. This will form the centerpiece of the next Epic Soundtracks collection." Also upcoming are remastered editions of Soundtracks' three "proper" solo full-lengths: 1993's "Rise Above," 1994's "Sleeping Star" and 1996's "Change My Life."
In addition to overseeing the management of his late brother's music, Sudden himself remains musically active. "I'm involved in my own never-ending tour," he reports. "Next stop will be Spain. I'll be in the States for some solo shows this July and for a full band tour in the autumn. My album, 'Treasure Island,' was recently released by Secretly Canadian. I'm a musician -- I play concerts, I write and record songs. It's my life."
Did Sudden have any idea Swell Maps would eventually prove influential on others? "I could say, 'Yes!' and be honest ... or I could say that we never thought of the future, which would also be honest," he admits. "You're always creating for yourself and for the moment and that's what we were doing. But one also thinks of how one's work will be seen, to some degree or another, even if it's just in the back of your mind."
"At one time I made a comment to the effect that although Sonic Youth, Pavement and Pussy Galore may have been influenced by Swell Maps, we cannot be blamed for the consequences," he continues. "This was meant far more flippantly than it has been taken. Although I don't really listen to any of their music, the Sonic Youth folks are passing friends and good to see when they're in town. Epic was very good friends with them."