Metallica bluegrass tribute CD on CMH

Fade to Bluegrass Volume 2: The Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica is a new CD in the CMH Records Pickin’ On series, due for a January 31, 2006 release. Like the first Metallica tribute project on CMH, the grassified covers were recorded by Iron Horse, a bluegrass band from Alabama. I had an opportunity to discuss the new CD with Tony Robertson of Iron Horse recently, as well as their involvement with other CMH Pickin’ On projects.

Here is the interview with Tony:

Q: Were you fans of Metallica or Van Halen before working on these projects, or did you have to become familiar with their music for the sessions?

“Being bluegrass people we were familiar to a very small degree, mostly by name association. We had to learn their music pretty much from scratch. In some ways, it made it easier to translate because we didn’t have to deal with our memory’s perception of their songs. It was a great learning experience.”

Q: How well did you think the material fit in a bluegrass context?

“We were sure that some songs would be a great fit and fairly easy to crossover, as they were very melodic. While the chord structures were unusual for bluegrass they gave a fresh sound to the genre. Ain’t Talkin’ About Love from the upcoming Van Halen project was a great song to do. It flowed very well and made bluegrass sense so to speak. Well written songs make the transformation considerably easier.”

Q: Were there any particular songs that were especially tricky?

“Ride the Lightning from the first Fade to Bluegrass project was quite a chore because it was not very melodic in its original form, so we had to recreate the flow into a bluegrass feel. It’s such a great song, we had to do it.”

Q: Have you gotten any reactions from these bands as to the bluegrass tributes?

“Kirt Hammit of Metallica posted a note on our guest book that said it sounded like we (Iron Horse) wrote the songs and they covered them. We were honored to get that reaction. One of the members from Modest Mouse sent word through CMH records that there tribute was incredible. We have not heard from Led Zeppelin or Ozzy Osbourne.”

Q: Do you ever perform these live?

“Yes… We played 3 venues in Europe this past summer, and probably 20 or so here in the states. We like to highlight the shows with some of the tribute songs because they are so unusual and the more diverse crowds always recognize some of the songs, and really like the feel of them. We also do some straight ahead bluegrass sets when we need to.”

Q: How long has the band been involved with these Pickin’ On projects?

“I think we started the Fade to Bluegrass project in Late 2002 and then followed up with Black and Bluegrass (tribute to Ozzy Osbourne), Pickin on Modest Mouse, (tribute to Modest Mouse), Whole Lotta Bluegrass, (tribute to Led Zeppelin) and Fade to Bluegrass Volume 2, that is due out in January. “

You can see the entire list of Pickin’ On projects on the CMH web site.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.