It had to happen eventually. Burlington’s Walk Off The Earth, who have made a cottage industry of creating entertaining videos in support of both original material and a plethora of cover tracks, have finally produced a 15-minute short film in support of their latest project, a six-song EP titled `Taekwondo’.
Totally self-financed and shot as a spoof of those 1980’s `Karate Kid’ movies, `Taekwondo’ features guitarist, vocalist Gianni “Luminati’ Nicassio as a Canadian in Los Angeles who hits on band vocalist, musician Sarah Blackwood much to the displeasure of the local Ninja gang, `Taekwondo’ features two versions of the lead single plus covers of Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime” “The Power” by Snap and “Freak Me ” by Silk and an amazing bonus track (not included in the film) of WOTE covering Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name” using just ukuleles, acoustic guitars and a toy drum kit.
“We actually wrote “Taekwondo” a couple of years ago when we were in LA recording `Sing It All Away” explained Nicassio over the phone during a media blitz to promote both the film and six-track EP. “We were all sitting in a circle and someone said as a joke, ‘Let’s write a love song involving Taekwondo’. So we started kicking around this melody and I thought it was pretty good.
“We finished writing the song that night,” continued Nicassio, “But our A&R guy at Columbia wanted us to move in an alternative direction. He thought it was a great song but “it’s not going to propel you guys in an alternative world”. Which might explain why WOTE is no longer with Columbia Records.
WOTE proved they could successfully release an all original record (`Sing It All Away’), totally clear of covers but in their spare time, continued to work on the Taekwondo project, first creating a video and then deciding to expand the concept into a 15-minute movie.
“Universal Music, our new label, totally loved the song and we had sat on it so long that we wanted to expand the concept and I had always wanted to shoot a movie so this seemed to be just the right project,” explained Nicassio.
Involving all the band members; Nicassio, Blackwood, Joel Cassady, Ryan Marshall and Mike ‘The Beard Guy’ Taylor as Nicassio’s Taekwondo mentor, `Canuck Norris’, the fun short pokes fun at Canada, name dropping the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Justin Bieber.
Tracks like Mungo Jerry’s” In The Summertime”, Snap’s “The Power” and Silk’s “Freak Me” were all selected to fit in with the video’s context but a real eyebrow raiser will be the band’s take on Iron Maiden’s anthemic “Hallowed Be Thy Name:
“I am a metal fan, I grew up listening to that kind of stuff and I’ve always wanted us to cover a track like that,” Nicassio announced. “I’ve always felt we could set ourselves up to cover anything and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” was a real test for us. We recorded it with just ukuleles, acoustic guitars. A kid’s drum kit and lots of distortion. Our manager contacted Iron Maiden and they love the cover.”
Nicassio admits that the band’s unique method of covering other songs ( Taylor Swift, Lorde, The Weeknd etc), combined with their own song writing talents will continue to be part of WOTE’s on-going mandate and he sees nothing wrong with that.
“Growing up, there were lots of songs I liked that I found were covers, there’s nothing wrong with performing other people’s material,” Nicassio noted. “When we started out in Burlington in 2006 we were writing original material just like anyone else. Then we discovered we could do our own take on other people’s material and those covers were well received by our fans.”
Of course WOKE’s big breakthrough was their cover of Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” with all five band members playing the song on one guitar. The video of which, attracted the attention of Ellen DeGeneres who invited them on to her show and the rest, they say, is history.
The band’s first studio album R.E.V.O, released in 2013, featured “Somebody That I Used To Know” which guaranteed it hit status but their original material was also prominent and their all original 2015 `Sing It All Way’ boasted a genuine hit with “Rule The World”
Noting that the current state of the music industry “allows us free rein to do what ever we want to do.” Nicassio confirms there is no “straight up model” with his band. “I think some of our fans were scared that we would deviate away from the covers but I think we’ve made it clear that although we will continue to write and record original material, we’ll still continue to cover the other stuff.”
Certainly WOTE’s brand of musical entertainment has registered with fans globally. They have just returned from Australia, where they have a great following, are set to announce a major U.S and Canadian tour and are also set to go back to England and France.
Let’s see, Walk Off The Earth performing Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be They Name” at London’s Hammersmith Odeon. Now that would be interesting!!