#15 – “The Fellowship of Hell” (2011)
L.K.: We were just wondering when a new song would pop up.
A.S.: What the shit, we are getting so many good songs. I guess it was only a matter of time, given that there were what, 30 new songs last year or something
L.K.: I would say that I was suspicious that this thing was rigged. Except that we DID get a >30 sec. McSweeney’s instrumental, so I mean, they haven’t all been, y’know… HIT-BOUND. John Flansburgh’s iMovie video for this song is…upsetting, to say the least.
A.S.: What, just the hand?
L.K.: John Flansburgh has frightening hands!
L.K.: Nah, this predates that. This predates Join Us even.
L.K.: This first appeared on a podcast back when they started doing podcasts again to get people excited about the forthcoming album. They conveniently seem to forget the podcast exists the rest of the time.
A.S.: Well, I mean they’re busy touring too.
L.K.: This is true, but they also seem to have a fairly short attention span for long-term projects. I mean, for all the fuss they made about the Instant Fan Club, that too has been a pretty low-key affair (though to be fair, they had things like the trailer fire complicating matters).
A.S.: Trailer fires, speaking of hell…
L.K.: But anyway, back to this song in particular!
A.S.: Yeah, this song rules. An instant Flans classic.
L.K.: Supposedly there were several prior versions of this song, prior to the one that wound up on the podcast/ARNATQ?
A.S.: Really? Oh wait, wasn’t there a version that was a lot slower?
L.K.: I swear when I was going back and reading a ton of interviews about The Else several months back, I came across one that mentioned “The Fellowship Of Hell”, which seemed crazy to me since the song had just recently been released to the public via TMBG’s official podcast. So I asked Flans about it on twitter around the time ARNATQ was released, and he said there were actually three different versions of the song. I think one of his posts must’ve got eaten or something, because it’s kind of hard to follow, but here’s what I’ve got. ”There are three different versions of that song. One awful acoustic attempt. That was actually the demo to “rock” it, and then”… ”…but that version sounded kind of weak. (“that” being the version on this album)” There is obviously a tweet missing there, but I never received it. But if the version that wound up on the album sounded “kind of weak”, then why was it the one on the album? The song appears to have been lying around quite a while in various guises, why release this version of it now?
A.S.: Yeah that’s weird that he’d release a weak version on the album, which if that’s the weak version, what the hell does the uh, “strong” version sound like?
L.K.: No idea, since I only seemed to receive the tweets about the first and third versions. I guess the second will just have to remain a mystery. Although… if the song did exist a few years ago, I wonder what made them hold on until 2011 to release it?
A.S.: Dissatisfaction? But why?
L.K.: Maybe they just figured they would get around to improving it more later and then never did.
A.S.: Which of course leads to other questions as to what else they’ve got sitting in the vaults
L.K.: Oh yeah, they have such ridiculous amounts of stuff… the number of Dial-A-Song cassettes alone that Flans must have, which just pop up on podcasts if we’re lucky.
A.S.: I’m honestly not sure what to say about “Fellowship of Hell.” It’s really just a strong, straight-ahead rocker that speaks for itself.
L.K.: Yeah, that’s basically it. Meaning of the lyrics is sort of cryptic, but the song itself is very short and to the point. It’s the sort of thing that’s a great little song, without necessarily being strong enough to make the cut for a regular album, which is of course exactly what wound up happening to it.
A.S.: I think it’s strong enough to appear on an album.
L.K.: I mean, I guess I would say it deserves to be on Join Us more than some tracks that did make the album, like “2082″, but it still has an unpolished sort of feeling to it. We’d probably have seen a fourth version of this if that were the case.
A.S.: I don’t know, I think it sounds fully formed, a complete pop-rocker – nice and polished, ready for release, which it ultimately received.
L.K.: Yeah, I really was glad that this made it onto some sort of official release after being on the podcast.
A.S.: I wouldn’t be too surprised to hear that if it hadn’t been released as a podcast, it would have been on Join Us.
L.K.: We’ll never know.