Drummer Ric MenckIn-demand drummer Ric Menck (Matthew Sweet, Velvet Crush, Liz Phair, Marianne Faithful) faced a quandary during sessions for Sweet and Susannna Hoffs’ recently released duets album of ’60s covers, Under The Covers, Vol. 1: Mimic classic performances like the ragged groove on Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” verbatim, or put his own stamp on things?

“I listened to the originals, but quickly discovered that I wasn’t good enough or interested enough in duplicating them exactly,” admits Menck. “But I would try to play the important bits, the happy accidents and mistakes. One of the best things about those older records is that they did it fast and left that funky stuff on, which I think is awesome.”

The release of Under The Covers is the first of many projects for Menck in 2006. His initial collaboration with Sweet, the 1991 power-pop classic Girlfriend, will be reissued as a deluxe edition, and a new Sweet disc featuring Menck should be out before year’s end. Menck is also on The Tyde’s new recording, 3’s Company.

Not all of Menck’s endeavors involve him bashing on his vintage Slingerlands. For starters, he’s currently helming two record labels. Through Birdsong he’ll be releasing an album by California band The Now People, who Menck says have “a total allegiance to soft rock.” And Rick’s reissues imprint, Reaction, will re-release Television guitarist Richard Lloyd’s Fields Of Fire album.

The drummer and label impresario can also add another credential to his résumé: author. Menck has been writing a book about The Byrds’ country-rock classic The Notorious Byrd Brothers for Continuum’s 33 1/3 series. He admits that finishing the book has been a struggle, and he frets that his editor wants to kill him. But Menck says he relishes uncovering the hazy details and anecdotes.

Patrick Berkery