As The Civil Wars joked during the taping of their VH1 Unplugged set a few weeks back, they’re a duo that already performs “unplugged” most of the time, generally using an acoustic guitar or piano to deliver their songs. Knowing that, you wouldn’t necessarily think that the duo would gravitate towards performing a cover of a 1993 trip-hop classic, but once you hear their take on “Sour Times” (as originally performed by Portishead), you immediately understand how this fits into the band’s repetoire of seemingly offbeat covers.
“We’re lovers of all kinds of different music,” Joy Williams told us when we sat down with her before the show taped a few weeks back. “If we’re able to pick something out of the lexicon where we both go, ‘You listened to that, too?’, it’s really fun for us to say ‘Ok, what can we do with it as a duo?’ The lyrics themselves, to Portishead, I sat down to read them and they’re so mysterious. I still don’t even quite know what we’re actually singing about, but I’m kind of into it. It’s such a moody song!” (VIDEO BELOW.)
“That’s the thing,” John Paul White added. “There’s absolutely no doubt what she’s singing about. It’s a little more abstract than what we normally go for, but we want people to feel something with everything we do. Even if it’s a cover. If it’s gonna be lighthearted, then so be it. But this song is super deep and heavy, and it’s got that melancholy [feel] to it.”
You’ll be able to watch VH1 Unplugged: The Civil Wars right here on VH1 Tuner tomorrow, Tuesday, May 1. The show will make its on-air premiere on VH1 on Wednesday, May 2 at 6 p.m. ET/PT, and will premiere on Palladia on Saturday, May 5 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.