When Spotify asked Vancouver-based indie band Calpurnia to record a cover song, their top choice – and their only choice – was the Weezer classic “Say It Ain’t So.” It was the only song all four of them knew how to play, which they learned at rock camp four years prior, they explained on the new episode of Spotify’s Under Cover podcast.
Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard sings lead and plays guitar for Calpurnia, along with Ayla Tesler-Mabe on vocals and lead guitar, Jack Anderson on bass and Malcolm Craig on drums. The young band hailed Weezer, particularly The Blue Album, as one of the most influential alternative albums of all time. “Weezer paved the way for that nerd rock sound,” Wolfhard said. Guitarist Tesler-Mabe said that “Say It Ain’t So’ was actually her go-to selection on Rock Band 2, but in reality, it’s much more intricate.
Calpurnia took the song in a grungier direction that’s largely indebted to the droning bass lines and drums. Wolfhard said that he recorded his vocals clean, inspired by the way Rivers Cuomo’s personality comes through on the original, he said – but then admitted his voice sort of blew out toward the end. He noted that he varied his guitar sound by fingering the verses and picking the choruses.
“I have a tremolo pedal kicked on, which sort of modulates the volume and sounds very lovely,” Tasler-Mabe said of how she manipulated her woozy, electric guitar sound. “I wasn’t intending to use one for this song, but really liked the sound of it … I think by the time we were done, we found that we ended up changing a lot of things that we didn’t think we would.”