John sang praises for Yard Act while speaking to NME back in October, specifically complimenting frontman James Smith’s distinctive speak-singing: “I can’t do it but I love it and I wonder how they do it.” Yard Act thanked John in return a couple months later by covering “Tiny Dancer,” essentially confirming what would become a real-life friendship.
In a press release, Smith explains how a series of phone calls led him to giving John a spur-of-the-moment invitation to the studio with Yard Act: “Within our camp we have a saying: ‘Mad shit happens when you do art,'” Smith adds. “You make stuff because you want to make it, and you throw stuff you’ve made into the world because you’d rather share it than not.”
Smith goes on to explain how, after laying down his piano and vocal tracks, John gave him a piece of wisdom: “He said something very poignant to me — ‘I love playing on other people’s songs, especially these guys, because I started off as a session musician. The fascinating thing is you hear things so differently from other people, and when you hear what they hear, then it all makes sense.’ That insight, that curiosity and that approach to music is the reason he’s still standing after all this time.”
Mad shit, indeed. Listen to “100% Endurance” with a new piano part and backing vocals from Sir Elton John below.
John isn’t the only celebrity taken by Yard Act’s contemplative indie-rock, as English actor David Thewlis starred in the music video for the original version of “100% Endurance.” The song comes from Yard Act’s recent debut album The Overload, which they’re currently promoting on tour; grab tickets for their US shows this fall over at Ticketmaster. Meanwhile, John will be in the midst of his long-running farewell tour, which you can also get tickets for at Ticketmaster.