Letters To Cleo came out of the Boston, MA scene in the early 90’s with a string of hit singles and songs on some of the most iconic soundtracks of the era. The band split up in 2000 and after a small tour in 2008, returned to recording and touring in 2016. They just released a Christmas Ep called OK Christmas that’s made up of 3 covers and one original track. Guitarist Michael Eisenstein took some time while on tour to talk about this record and what’s next for the band.
Please press PLAY below for the MisplacedStraws.com conversation with Michael Eisensten:
On what led the band to record a Christmas Ep – Well the plan was to follow (Back To Nebraska) up with the an LP of original music…we’re actually back together part time, we all have other full time things that we do, be it in music or other. So we we have limited time when we could get together and work. The song writing schedule for the LP just kind of fell behind enough that we were not going to get it out and 2019. We were like “We’d would love to release something in conjunction with our November tour.” and Stacy Jones, our drummer, was like “We can always do some Christmas music”. :53
On how they chose songs – I think 3 of the 4 of us right away brought up “Father Christmas” so that was kind of on the list. It’s similar to the kind of songs that we do, it’s right in our sound so that was an easy one to go for. Outside of that we took suggestions and then I set a Spotify playlist. I just started adding to it and we were trying to pick the ones that not everybody knew and we’ve sort of narrow it down from there. 3:03
On changing the “machine gun” lyric from “Father Christmas” – We had recorded the entire song, there was a finished vocal on there, and that following weekend in late July were shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. Like everybody else we follow the news and the the extensive coverage of it, yet another shooting tragedy. Greg McKenna (guitarist) kind of brought up that it feels kind of weird putting out this. There’s a lyric in the song about asking Santa for a machine gun to scare all the kids in the street, and Greg was like it doesn’t feel right putting that lyric out at this time. Kay (Hanley, vocals) took to Twitter, we all agreed that was a problem, and asked The Kinks personally “is it okay if we change that lyric” and she never heard back. She has a vast Twitter following and they they all chimed in with suggestions and it was one of her followers had a kind of a rough idea of what we went with, which was “can you melt down all the machine guns so the kids are safe in the street”. 4:58