Track By Track: Tobias. & Friends – TOP TEN
Berlin-based producer, musician, and label owner of Non Standard Productions Tobias Freund has crafted a covers record that honours influential artists spanning four decades.
Berlin-based producer, musician, and label owner of Non Standard Productions Tobias Freund has crafted a covers record that honours influential artists spanning four decades. With album TOP TEN, he’s enlisted the vocals of Javiera González (building on their collaboration on the post-punk album ‘The Mutual Torture – Don’t’), Barbie Williams, Cormac McAdam, Carlos Cabezas and Stian Westerhus.
Meticulously re-produced at Non Standard Studios in Berlin, each track blends the old and the new with standout moments including Wire’s “Used To,” Bauhaus’ “All We Ever Wanted,” and DEVO’s “Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy.” and the introspective “My Sex” by Ultravox.
We asked Tobias to break down the album Track By Track for us…
1. Wire – Used To
All the tracks on this album appear in the same order that i started working on them, so “Used To” was the first track on the list. I knew quickly that Javiera González should sing this song, which we did in Santiago de Chile at the end of 2018. i used an MC-202 with slight distortion for the Bass, the Drums came from my favourite Mini Pops.
2. Bauhaus – All We Ever Wanted
The only record from Bauhaus i had at the time i was working on “All We Ever Wanted” was “The Sky’s Gone Out” which my school friend Lars gave me when we were still at school. The song conveyed exactly that feeling we had as teenagers, romantic hopelessness. Barbie Williams, who my wife and I worked with on our “Recent Arts” project, was the ideal cast to interpret this track. On Drums – TR 808
3. DEVO – Gut Feeling/Slap Your Mammy
Needless to say all the tracks on this album come from my favourite bands, but DEVO had a special meaning to me, sarcastic, funny future punks, right up my alley. Javiera was the first choice again and her interpretation has a fresh new arrogance. We shot a video for this song together with my wife’s brother in Santiago de Chile, it features some of my best friends. Unfortunately during the shoot we somewhat ruined a guitar we borrowed, sorry again Piti !!
4. Ultravox – My Sex
At this point I would like to mention that Max Loderbauer helped me a lot to find the right tone for all the songs on this record, without him the result would not have been nearly as good. “My Sex” had to be sung by a man and I chose my friend Cormac, who I had previously worked with on various of his and my projects. John Foxx, who sang the original song, was very important to my brother and me. After John Foxx left Ultravox he made the album of his life, “Metamatic” by John Foxx is the album that heralded the future or us.
5. YMO – Pure Jam
I distinctly remember listening to YMO’s record “BGM” at a garden party in the summer of 1980. Since that moment I’ve been in love with everything released by this band, it also brought me closer to the many facets of Japanese electronic music. “Pure Jam” is an extraordinary song, especially because of the combination of music and lyrics. I’ve never heard a song about an ugly piece of bread. I’m a big fan of the solo productions of the individual members of YMO, and through this I’ve also learned to love other artists such as Miharu Koshi or Hajime Tachibana. For Barbie Williams it was a bit of a challenge to find the right rhythm I remember, despite an extraordinarily charming performance.
6. The Stranglers – Outside Tokyo
This record from “The Stranglers – Black and White” was a record I bought just for the cover. I’ve done this several times and have rarely been disappointed. There are many tracks that I would have liked to have covered, but my choice was “Outside Tokyo”. A friend of mine from Chile, whose name I can’t remember, helped me with the harmonies, which are quite complex, and Max fine-tuned them again. Javiera’s voice has the right dose of melancholy that the track needs. On Drums again Mini Pops.
7. Chrome – Static Gravity
Chrome was also one of the bands that had a big influence on me, along with The Residents, this was one of the few bands from North America that found their way onto my turntable. Static Gravity was kind of an anthem among us. I remember always listening to the song at maximum volume, as far as that was possible at home. I whistled a part of the melody as a demo to later replace it with other instruments, but you can still hear the whistling in the song.
The singer Carlos Cabezas had a very successful band in Chile in the 80s, Electrodomesticos, I met him at a party in Santiago and asked him if he would like to sing a song from my TOP TEN record, he said yes, a perfect choice. On Drums this time Boss DR-55
8. The Flying Lizards – Her Story
This song is my favourite song on the record. David Cunningham is a producer who sees things a lot like me, he once said that his main tool for creating music is his studio. The Flying Lizards is a band that was developed in the studio, when this record came out in 1980 I was also in the phase of thinking about what to do with my passion for making music and working in a recording studio. It gave me a lot of confidence to be able to create music without having learned an instrument. The perfect mind set and the best soundtrack for a teenager who had the world at his feet. Javiera once again put in an exceptional performance and without Max’s help analysing the bassline I would probably still be pondering. Drums TR 808 plus real hand claps.
9. XTC – Battery Brides
Who doesn’t like XTC, well i guess my brother isn’t a big fan, doesn’t matter, but for me this band has many interesting aspects. Of course i love the music which for me is the epitome of pop but i also loved the artwork of the “Go2” record. The cover consists of a typewritten text about the strategy of using the artwork to influence the buyer to buy the record. The lyrics stretch all over the record and even the labels, a brilliant idea. “Battery Brides” was sung by Cormac again, with small variations on the original lyrics, and at the end a reference to an important moment in my past. drums, guess what…
10. Magazine – Permafrost
I worked with Samuel Rohrer, Max Loderbauer and Stian Westerhus on an album project called K.A.V.E. and had one last song without a singer. Stian is an exceptional performer so i asked him to close the record with “Permafrost”. He also changed a line of lyrics for reasons of the “me too” movement, (sorry Howard), maybe someone will notice. Thanks Stian and sorry that this record took so long, but unfortunately it was out of my hands.