Heau! Heau! Heau!

Story by Debora Biasutti

Andy Plank, a UW-Eau Claire alumnus, started to compile Christmas cover songs with his roommates a few years ago. Now, he decided to open it up to the community and have local artists submit their self-produced tunes for a compilation titled “I’ll be in Eau Claire for Christmas.” News Editor Debora Biasutti recently sat down with Plank to chat about this year’s compilation and the holidays.

Debora Biasutti: When and why did you decide to compile Christmas’ tunes?

Andy Plank: The first (compilation) was in 2007. It was just me, Kyle Flater and Trevor Ives — we lived in a house together. We were going to send out a Christmas card that year, and we decided to record three songs of our own and put them in burned discs and send them out to friends. That’s what got it started.

DB: How many artists submitted their music this year?

AP: I think we have 13 different musicians this year. That’s the most we’ve ever had, and it’s a really cool eclectic mix of different kinds of musicians.

Me, Kyle Flater and Trevor Ives submit a track every year, but (this year) we have Paul Brandt, who has been in a lot of bands. There is actually a jazz band this year, a full jazz trio that submitted a song, which is pretty unique for the project — we’ve never had anything like that before.

There is a guy from Osseo called Bryan Bethke, which is kind of a countryish musician, like a pop-country musician. So, that’s really different, too, because usually a lot of the songs are really indie/rock kind of stuff.

DB: Do you have any favorite song in this compilation?

AP: I really liked Paul Brandt’s. He did “White Christmas” and it’s this really big, epic indie/rock song. It sounds like this huge Coldplay song. Kyle Flater always does a really good job, too — he just got engaged two weeks ago, so he had his fiancée sing the song “Winter Wonderland.” It’s a really good song to listen to.

DB: What is the best part of compiling those songs?

AP: I kind of act as a curator for it. I don’t really do much, I just send emails every year and say, ‘Hey, do you guys want to do this?’

Volume One put an article on their website this year saying that anybody who submitted a song could be in it, so that really helped a lot.

And it’s cool to hear from people saying that they really, really liked it. Some people tell me that when their families go to the tree and they open up their presents, that’s the CD they listen to — it’s pretty cool to be part of other people’s holidays and give them something.

DB: Are you going to do this project again in the following years?

AP: We will keep going as long as musicians keep giving us the songs.

We have been actually talking about starting like a Christmas band with standard people who will play the songs that were submitted, like a big holiday concert. We are not doing that this year because we didn’t have time, but maybe next year.

DB: Do you personally enjoy Christmas?

AP: Oh, yeah. I’m pretty big fan of the holidays.

In general, it just gives everybody a different feeling of cheeriness and a little bit of joy that they maybe don’t have in the other times of the year.

I think it’s a pretty sweet time to celebrate that.