For a relatively new band to have an opportunity to jump on the coattails of the likes of Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion, it was the chance of a lifetime. Such was the case of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, New York three piece art-punk garage band that has drawn the attention and admiration of their veteran peers, from Girls Against Boys, to Jerry Teel from Boss Hog, who worked with them on their first self-titled E.P.
It was that Boss Hog connection that also led them to a tour with Jon Spencer. Brian Chase , YYY’s drummer, explains the good and the bad of life on the road and traveling through uncharted territory, “Some of the physical conditions of the tour were kind of rough for us. Other than that, that tour was a real godsend. It was our introduction to Europe, and there’s no better way to do it…Jon Spencer is such a real inspiration.”
Although their first yet-to-be-named full length has been delayed until next January, the actual music has been completed, aside from a few touch ups and finessing. Now it’s just the logistics of getting it made into a finished piece. In the meantime, fans will be able to get a taste of what’s to come through their first single release, “Machine”, in November. According to Brian, “It’s dark but dancey at the same time, kinda longer than some of the songs on the E.P.”
The self titled E.P., released towards the end of 2001, presents us with a “Wham, bam, thank-you ma’am” persona, packed with five songs that features Karen O on lead vocals, with a range than runs hot and hotter, from seductive serenades to screams. The first track, “Bang”, leaves the starting gate armed with some chunky Kinks guitar, and Karen sporting some shakin’ late 80’s style female sex pot vocals, “I need the real thing tonight”. “Mystery Girl” with its surf guitar licks via Nick Zinner, leads us to a Beach Blanket Babylon, complete with party favors of Jack & Coke, and Camel unfiltered cigs. “Art Star” is a raging poetry recital that falls face first into a fury of screams and thrashing sonic stampedes, than falls off the stage to slowly picks itself up and continues the performance in a gitty sort of way.
When searching for the producer of their new album, YYY’s looked to one of their favorite bands out of Baltimore, Love Life (www.templeoflovelife.com), who had used Dave Sidtj in the past. Brian tells us how it all worked out, “He’s definitely got his own his own style and unconventional mic-ing methods – like up on the ceiling and the walls… capturing the energy we have live and the sound of the band as a whole, then putting that tape.”
The YYY’s have made no bones about blatantly leaning on their influences for songwriting inspiration, even using samples as a foundation to create the song’s personality, as with “Our Time”, a psychedelic “Haight Street meets lower NY” track that takes it’s rhythms from The Shondells’ “Crimson and Clover”. But they are definitely moving forward in discovering their own identity. Brian sees their new material as having more, “diversity, [we’re] doing more slow songs, complex pop songs… dancey to the straight ahead garage thing. We still feel like we’re looking for our own sound.” And after only two years, he still sees a pretty clean slate and a world of songwriting and musicianship development ahead of them, “Who knows what next year will bring? It could be radically different from the stuff we’re doing now. So yea, we still see ourselves as a pretty young band.”