Ever since the Beatles, b-sides have carried a certain mystique. For the back half of their upcoming single, “Lateral To The Devil” (due February 11), Later Fortune chose to cover David Bowie’s “Win,” an underappreciated soul-noir classic from 1975’s Young Americans. It’s the first release from the Philly duo—Chet Delcampo and Heyward Howkins—in three years. And the b-side is certainly no throwaway.
“I initially heard ‘Win’ as a kid on the headphones, with all this family acrimony going on around me,” says Delcampo. “The vibe just resonated with me.”
Delcampo (a.k.a. Chris Madl) and John “Heyward” Howkins have been friends and collaborators for many years. Among other projects, Howkins co-founded choral group the Silver Ages with members of Dr. Dog and the War On Drugs. Delcampo has worked with Joel RL Phelps (Silkworm), Kid Congo Powers (Gun Club, Nick Cave, Cramps), Dave Lovering (Pixies) and Karl Blau (who supplied the cover art for the “Lateral To The Devil” single).
Much like everything else, “Win” was a byproduct of the pair’s frequent bouts of experimentation in Delcampo’s home studio. “Chris came up with the arrangement,” says Howkins. “The only thing I took any license with was the outro, because I couldn’t wrap my head around the original—it never made sense to me. We knew we had to represent the saxophone, but we both agreed that it sounded kind of dated. Chris decide to use synth, though there was a bit of laboring over that decision.”
As for the a-side, its lyric is pure patchwork poetry from Howkins. “Sat lateral to the devil, not above him more on equal,” he sings over a shapeshifting bed of electronics, piano and surging percussion. “Asked if he knew what it’s like to be human, he said I wouldn’t choose it.”
“We went from this piano seed and fleshed it out from there,” says Howkins. “I had a few lines of lyrics, and there were some things I left behind from other songs that made sense.”
Right now, there are no plans for a full album of Later Fortune material. Delcampo is finishing up a new LP as Hong Kong Stingray, and Howkins has a solo EP in the works.
“We know when something sucks, and we’ve known each other long enough that we can tell each other,” says Howkins. “We can make as many mistakes as we want. It’s nice to have the luxury of time and resources.”