31 musicians spanning genres, generations come together on Covid-19 charity song, “Flatten the Curve,” produced by Bruce Duff and written Frank Meyer
It’s hard to imagine the amount of hairspray that must have hung in the air during 1985’s star-studded charity recording of “We are the World” (no doubt, a serious fire hazard’s worth). In the days of Covid-19, we can’t imagine going out for a beer after work, much less picture Cherie Currie, Mike Watt and Josie Cotton huddled around an expensive microphone, one hand over their ear, the other floating soulfully in the air as if to find that perfect note.
These days, our rock ‘n’ roll saviors are recording at ad hoc home-studios, but that doesn’t mean they can’t come together to change the world through the power of song and a strong internet connection. Enter 2020’s fist-pumping quarantine anthem, “Flatten the Curve,” which dropped May 5th in an effort to raise funds for Jubilee Consortium and the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.
Think of the jam-packed rock single as a hard-hitting, high-energy PSA for social distancing paired with the allure of a vintage Where’s Waldo book (with an insane lineup of 31 musical powerhouses, you’ll find yourself listening to this track on a loop, trying to ferret out just whom did what part). It’s more fun than waiting for sourdough bread to rise. Trust me!
“Tracking vocals at home with three maniac kids and a spazmo dog running around is slightly challenging, but well worth it for the honor of singing on a killer track with so many other great singers and musicians,” said featured vocalist Ben Weasel. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to help spread the word and flatten the curve.”
Yes! Behold the power of remote recording (and one hell of a mixing job). But who would dare take on such Herculean cat-herding duties? Why, manager/producer Bruce Duff of course, who aimed to bring about some good vibes (and good social distancing habits) in the best way he knew how. That is, to break out the proverbial Rolodex and power up the mixing board.
Duff may have provided the lightbulb moment, production and mixing, but Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs bandmate Frank Meyer must be credited for penning the catchy song—one which will be remembered decades from now as a sonic artifact that crystalized a real freaky time in world history.
So, ready for that epic musical lineup now? Take a big breath:
Featured Vocalists (in order of appearance)
Chris Freeman (Gay C/DC/ Pansy Division)
Manfred Jones (Woggles/Magnificent)
Lisa Kekaula (The BellReys)
Adam Bones (The Two Tens)
Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers)
Ben Weasel (Screeching Weasel)
Wendy Stonehenge (Glitter Wizard)
Cherie Currie (Runaways)
Tony Reflex (Adolescents)
Suzi Moon (LA Machina/Turbulent Hearts)
Frank Meyer (The Streetwalkin’ Cheetahs/ Blind House)
Heart warming and utterly wild, right? These diverse artists might have come together for the greater good, but they aren’t suggesting we all just numb out with Netflix while we wait out the clock sheltering at home.
The lyrics talk frankly abut losing hope (This distance is killing me/I just want some company/Can anybody hear me when I call?) to the madness that comes after complete news saturation (The news is a disease/A virus in my home /The information is coming at you/you gotta leave me alone) to, finally, acceptance of a new dystopian reality and a very serious call to action: (Hey you gotta spread the word/From the inside flatten the curve/Though you might feel a little perturbed /Please walk the line and flatten the curve).
Basically, the entire cycle of Covid-19, minus the Zoom call ugly cry and munchie hangover.
What’s particularly striking about the song—besides the fact that it even came together at all—is the illustrious multi-generational lineup, which spans location and genres. Where else could alt country crooner Eddie Spaghetti (Supersuckers) and Pansy Division’s Chris Freeman share the spotlight with the likes of Norwood Fisher (Fishbone/Trulio Disgracias)?
The song was a no brainer for Fisher, who jumped on the opportunity to play bass (alongside Mike Watt) while supporting Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial assistance to career musicians and music industry workers who are struggling to make ends meet.
“Otherwise, I’d do almost anything for Frank Meyer and Bruce Duff,” he said. “All they had to do was ask. On top of that, I’ve got so much respect for most everyone that’s contributing to this, as well as several decades of awe and wonderment over the power of Mike Watt—you couldn’t keep me off this track!”
On a more solemn note, Fisher added, “The music industry is in such a disarray due to the circumstances surrounding Covid-19, that we have to stick together and support each other in every way possible.”
The idea that your instrument can be transformed into a tool for some greater good isn’t lost on featured vocalist Suzi Moon (LA Machina/Turbulent Hearts). She aimed to bring together a fractured, lonely world—both for herself and an anxious, captive audience.
“In times of crisis, music is there to unify us and help us feel less alone,” she told New Noise. “Contributing to ‘Flatten the Curve’ did that for me as an artist, and I hope it does that for listeners around the world.”
A full list of song credits, below:
Cherish Alexander (Josie Cotton Band)
Kent Holmes (Brutalists/Magnificent)
Ted Jedlicki (Thor)
Mike Watt (Minutemen/Secondmen/Stooges)
Norwood Fisher (Fishbone/Trulio Disgracias)
Steve McDonald (Redd Kross/the Melvins)
Billy Rowe: (JetBoy)
Brian Coakley (Blind House/Cadillac Tramps)
Brian Forsythe (Kix/Rhino Bucket)
Deniz Tek (Radio Birdman)
Michelle Balderama (LA Machina/Brainspoon)
Ray Violet (Jesters of Destiny)
Rich Jones (Michael Monroe, Black Halos)
Aaron Minton (Prima Donna) – Theremin
Chris Freeman – Melodica
Jussi Lehtisalo (Circle/Pharaoh Overlord) – synth
Melanie Vammen (the Coolies/Muffs) – combo organ
Paul Roessler (Screamers/Twisted Roots) – piano, organ
Produced and mixed by Bruce Duff
Written by Frank Meyer
Pre-production by Frank
Engineered by all 31 participants in self-isolation home studios
Mastered by Paul Roessler
Digital cover art Cherish Alexander
Performed by FTC
Label – FugThaCorona