Straight off the forthcoming split from NYC indie label Totally Real Records, listen to two bands’ hot takes on each others’ tunes


Let’s start off by acknowledging that neither of these bands are (technically) from New York. Or even, like, Jersey. But because Bryan Bruchman of local indie label Totally Real Records is not only releasing this split but also plays some guitar on a bunch of the tracks, we’re going to round up to NYC. Just this one time.

Plus, this release ~totally~ rules.

SO! Now that we’re done with disclaimers, I’m pumped to put you onto a very rad forthcoming split featuring Hark (Atlanta) + the “lofi punx” of We Are Joiners (Netherlands) and, best of all, to premiere two of the tracks right here!

Beyond four original songs from each project, the record features a collaborative track + each act’s unique take on one of the other’s tunes, and it’s those two covers that—a day ahead of the wide release—I’m super hyped to share with you now.

But first, a word on the project from Bryan Bruchman from TRR:

“I’ve been encouraging TRR artists and friends of the label to collaborate a lot lately, and luckily people like Joep and Christian have been super down to experiment and just try stuff out, including a lot of requests for people to cover each other, which is how these incredible reinterpretations of ‘Wrong’ and ‘Johnny Be Good’ came about. This split was a long time in the making, and I even got to contribute guitars to the We Are Joiners tracks as they were coming together over the past several months, so when I realized we had two minutes of space on side A of these tapes, I suggested we all collaborate on something, so the exclusive track ‘Sturdy Vessel’ was born. This was a super easy and extremely fun project to work on, and I hope that everybody who hears it becomes a fan of both of these incredibly talented artists.”

Covers can take many forms, ranging from artists striving to reproduce another song as closely as possible—a wedding singer doing their best Neil Diamond while belting out “Sweet Caroline” for the 500th time to a drunk audience at some 24-year-old’s wedding—to a group totally transforming the track and adapting it to the point in which it bares little resemble to the original… like a ska rendition of “What’s Your Fantasy” by Ludacris or an opera take on “My Humps” by The Black Eyed Peas. (Both of which probably don’t exist? Idk, I’m not on Tik Tok.)

But at its best and most authentic, a cover is a love letter. An indirect act of collaboration in which one musician acknowledges another’s awesomeness and pays homage to a piece of art by re-packaging it in their own creative wrapper, adding to the narrative and continuing the story of the song.

With that, I’m thrilled to present two killer musical odes to and from two killer acts, who shared not just their work, but also a few thoughts on taking on each other’s tracks.

“Johnny Be Good” (Hark covering We Are Joiners)

See me hopelessly crying // Try not to start a new riot // Gotta live up to my name // And be a strong kid floating in space

Christian Perez (Hark): “This thing coming to fruition is pretty wild. We all connected over Twitter during the first leg of the pandemic because I sent my album (From Back Then and Afterward) to TRR and started getting myself acquainted with their roster. We Are Joiners stood out to me for their really raw sound so I sent them my album and they thankfully dug it. I floated the idea of doing some sort of collaboration, I’d assumed a track or two, and somehow we ended up with an 11 track split. I’m really proud of what we’ve put together and thankful that Joep and TRR welcomed me into the fold. This whole thing was fun as hell and getting to cover each other really allowed me to stretch my wings a bit. My version of ‘Johnny Be Good’ sounds nothing like the original nor like anything else I’ve produced up to this point, and having that freedom and acceptance made this thing come together easily. We also wrote the track ‘Sturdy Vessel’ together and it’s easily one of the best things I’ve worked on. I love that song. Joep provided the track and Bryan sent over a bunch of lead guitar takes and they just let me have at it with assembly, vocals, and lyrics. It came together really quickly and felt good from the get because it’s got strong bones. I’m hoping this won’t be the last thing we all work on together. I have a feeling it won’t be. I think we just might have a little something here.”

“Wrong” (We Are Joiners covering Hark)

“Do you think about dying? // Do you think about how cold heaven could be? // Do you think about the long lines? // Do you think about the love you might leave?”

Joep (of We Are Joiners): “I was on a train when Hark tweeted his album to me! Was hooked right away, his song ‘Bad news’ is an instant banger, a collab was agreed right then.”

The split, avail digitally and in physical form via 25 DIY mono cassette tapes, is out on Totally Real Records TOMORROW, but you can hop on your pre-order game now to get your hands on a sampler platter of originals, covers and collabs from what might just become two of your favorite artists—

And, I assure you, not a heavy-metal Taylor Swift track or acoustic Limp Bizkit take to be found.


Follow Hark at @workofhark and buy tunes on Bandcamp!

Check out We Are Joiners on Twitter at @wearejoiners, grab their music on Bandcamp and add their songs to your Spotify playlists!

Feature image provided by TRR.

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