Dan Boeckner may be best known for his involvement in the recently reunited Wolf Parade, or the Divine Fits, or even Handsome Furs — he keeps busy, to say the least. The Canadian singer-songwriter and guitarist is now also devoting time and energy to his latest project, Operators.
The electronic grunge-rock band released its debut LP, Blue Wave, back in March, and more recently performed a cover of German artist Nena’s “99 Red Balloons”, an electro-pop hit from the 80’s, for The A.V. Club’s Undercover series. Boeckner delivered the lyrics with great intention, in part because of the song’s influence on his life.
“This song, I think, is one of the first songs that really ever made an impression on me, and I think I can trace my obsession with Eastern music and Cold War stuff back to listening to ’99 Red Balloons’ for the first time,” Boeckner said during the pre-interview. He then said he “Wikipedia’d” the song prior to performing it, and that the German version (“99 Luftballoons”) is more subtle and more of a parable, while the English version is directly about the Cold War.
For the cover, Operators stripped the song of its pop power and rather played up the electronic production with support from Boeckner’s echoing vocals. The result was a more pensive presentation of the song, a synth heavy version that sauntered on rather than surged ahead all while proving how a song can still resonate decades later.
Watch the performance above.