In 2002, Built To Spill’s Doug Martsch formed a momentary side-project cheekily christened Boise Cover Band, whose sole album Unoriginal Artists will be made available on digital and vinyl for the first time on March 19th.
While BTS was on hiatus following the release of 2001’s underrated Ancient Melodies of the Future, Martsch invited a group of local musician friends to his home studio for a series of improvised jam sessions. He would soon find his group, comprised of guitarist John Mullin, long time BTS soundman Ian Waters on drums and his former Treepeople bandmate Scott Schmaljohn on guitar. Doug, meanwhile, absconded his key role as lead guitarist and played bass. When Scott no longer had time for the project he was replaced by boise guitar player Ned Evett, winner of the 2003 North American Guitar competition and inventor of the glass-necked fretless guitar.
“[I] got together with some friends, and we were going to jam, and then we decided to try doing some covers,” Martsch told Consequence of Sound in 2012. “We learned a few and recorded them, and that was it. It was just a little project that started out as a little jam session and turned into that. We never played any shows or did anything else. That was it.”
Boise Cover Band would cut one album, a collection of covers (obviously) recorded on Doug’s home studio with longtime Built to Spill producer Phil Ek engineering the live tracking sessions with Doug handling all the mixing and overdubs. With a satirical K-Tel style cover designed by Up Records executive Pete Ritchy, Unoriginal Artists found Martsch and friends taking on tunes like David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes”, the Pretenders hit “Back On The Chain Gang” and “I’m Glad” by Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band among others. It was initially released on Martsch’s unofficial side label Jo-Ri and sold at the merch table when Built To Spill would reconvene and tour behind their 2006 LP You In Reverse.
Unoriginal Artists has been cited by Martsch as one of his favorite albums he ever made, and follows last year’s Built to Spill Plays The Songs of Daniel Johnston last June. Hopefully, the next time we hear from Doug Martsch it will be with a new cache of original material. But in the meantime, you can pre-order Unoriginal Artists on BandCamp.