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Watch Vulfpeck offshoot The Fearless Flyers cover Steely Dan


Vulfpeck exist in their own little corner of the musical world. Channelling the old-school styles of funk and soul rhythm sections like The Swampers and Booker T. and the M.G.’s, Vulfpeck are secretly one of America’s most popular cult bands, selling out Madison Square Garden without the assistance of a major record label or large scale advertising. They have their own sound, their own label, their own language, and their own mythos. They even have their own various offshoots.

There’s guitarist Corey Wong and his ridiculously prolific solo career which finds him releasing up to three studio albums every single year. There are also the solo careers of singer Antwan Stanley, saxophonist Joey Dosik, and drummer Theo Katzman, all of whom have carved out a unique place among the scores of Vulfpeck’s faithful following. But the most direct side project comes in the form of the Fearless Flyers.

Centred around drummer Nate Smith while featuring Vulfpeck stalwarts Joe Dart and Corey Wong along with Snarky Puppy guitarist Mark Lettieri, the Fearless Flyers combine prestigious technical ability with a loose attitude towards compositions which allows them to incorporate covers and unique arrangements, including contributions from Vulfpeck keyboardist Woody Goss and mandolinist Chris Thile.

Often deconstructing songs into an instrumental format, some of the band’s covers are their most wild and infectious. Their version of ‘Under the Sea’ from Disney’s The Little Mermaid is a delight, while their covers of Vulfpeck songs like ‘Adrienne and Adrianne’ put a meta spin on a group that already exists in a highly meta self-contained universe (bassist Joe Dart plays an instrument also called the Joe Dart, and Vulfpeck have a song called ‘Corey Wong’ named after the eponymous guitarist. Things get very meta very quickly with this group).

But more than anything else, the Fearless Flyers are meant to be an open-ended collaboration that lets some of the most talented musicians in the world jam on whatever they want. That’s the spirit that the core foursome bring to their latest cover, a take on Steely Dan‘s eternal early hit ‘Reelin’ in the Years’.

Featuring Lettieri covering both Donald Fagen’s vocal melodies and Elliott Randall’s signature lead guitar lines, the group’s take on ‘Reelin’ in the Years’ is the group’s most relaxed and easy-going cover to take. Usually, the Fearless Flyers take a more frantic route with their covers, souping up tempos to lightning-fast speeds and throwing in nearly-impossible runs on their respective instruments. But their take on ‘Reelin’ in the Years’ is remarkably laid back, with four guys just cranking out a straightforward cover while having a great time doing it.

Check out the Fearless Flyers’ take on ‘Reelin’ in the Years’ down below.