Why You Should Go See Yuck


Why You Should Go See Yuck On Tuesday
By Jaime Lees
Fri., Sep. 30 2011 at 3:57 PM

Yuck released one of the best albums of 2011. The London band’s self-titled debut encompasses everything great about ’90s indie rock all squished into one album. It contains melody, distortion and a tons of volume. Unfortunately, these distinctive qualities have earned Yuck a reputation in the music media as grunge revivalists. This label has divided the press, with authors either claiming that Yuck is recycled and derivative or ambassadors of the next alternative generation.

Either way, there’s no getting around it: Yuck sounds like ’90s rock — but only the best parts of really, really good ’90s rock. Shit, it’s not like the band is being constantly compared to Limp Bizkit or Matchbox 20 or even Bush. Yuck only gets compared to legendary, groundbreaking bands like friggin’ Teenage Fanclub and GD Dinosaur Jr and Sonic MFing Youth. It’s a compliment, really.

Still, the group’s sound extends beyond these comparisons. It also balances My Bloody Valentine-esque scorchers with a whole host of sweeter sounds, like that of Pavement or Neil Young or bits of the great C86 bands. These comparisons are especially impressive considering that all of the band members in Yuck are in their early 20s. They didn’t witness the rise and fall of alternative rock — they were still toddlers when Nevermind came out. Still, the kids in Yuck reference their indie forefathers with great maturity and skill.

Part of this competence comes from experience. Yuck’s two main songwriters, Daniel Blumberg and Max Bloom, have been in bands together since they were teenagers. A couple of years ago, Blumberg and Bloom quit the (relatively successful) Brit band Cajun Dance Party to form Yuck. With the addition of bass player Mariko Doi (of London via Hiroshima) and American drummer Jonny Rogoff, the lineup was complete. And the band wasted no time making their mark: it’s already played SXSW, recorded a Daytrotter session and toured with Times New Viking, Tame Impala and its heroes, Teenage Fanclub. Yuck is even scheduled to perform on the much anticipated Weezer cruise.

Despite a few disparaging reviews by out-of-touch rock critics, the band has been entirely embraced by audiences. They dig it. And it’s the fans who have pushed the band to the top of the indie underground. Yuck’s debut was released early this year on the righteous Fat Possum label and it’s been so well-received by the public that it’s being re-issued this month with six bonus tracks.

Check out Yuck for yourself this Tuesday at the Firebird with White Denim and Porcelain Raft.

  • Riverfront Times – link

Interview with Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth

 

Photo by Michael Schmelling. Doodles by JL.

Sonic Youth 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 17.
Live on the Levee, under the Gateway Arch. Free.


Electric Youth: Sonic Youth and Kim Gordon continue to age gracefully with a new LP, The Eternal
By Jaime Lees

In their 28-year career, indie-rock godfathers Sonic Youth have experienced unprecedented success — and had unparalleled staying power. Credit this longevity to the band’s stability: Guitarist/vocalist Lee Ranaldo, drummer Steve Shelley, bassist/vocalist Kim Gordon and guitarist/vocalist/her husband Thurston Moore have launched numerous side projects, completed countless world tours and released copius rarites and studio albums.

The band’s Matador Records-released latest, The Eternal, marks its return to an independent label. (It had been with Geffen since 1990’s Goo.) But Eternal is the perfect extension of the Sonic Youth catalog, a hybrid of resonant guitar textures and jammy, jazzed-out, free-form experimentation. The album evokes Daydream Nation‘s unpredictable explosiveness and the near-psychedelic, extended harmonies of Washing Machine, but it isn’t a musical progression as much as it is a lateral move. That in particular is Sonic Youth’s trademark: Although each new album the band releases might contain heavier guitars, additional harmonies or more noise, they all maintain that nebulous Sonic Youth quality. There’s something special about the dreamy pop blasts that the band creates together; instead of their dueling talents triggering a compromise, it feels as though collaboration enriches the Sonic Youth sound.

As Sonic Youth’s bassist and one of its songwriters, Kim Gordon has long been an inspiration to younger musicians. As one of the few females in a respected, long-running rock band, Gordon is thought of as the cool, MILF-y matriarch of indie rock. But unlike many women, she’s praised as much for her musical input as she is for her good looks and hushed, lusty voice. Her contributions to the band have rarely been as pronounced as they are on Eternal, on which she sings lead on several tracks, and her imposing bass lines sweep boldly through the din.

A prolific visual artist, Gordon is also accomplished in many other disciplines — including painting, drawing, writing, producing and organizing both art and music events. She’s also fronted two successful fashion lines, X-Girl and the new Mirror/Dash, which is sold at Urban Outfitters. On the eve of Sonic Youth’s current tour, we spoke with Gordon about how she balances her multiple interests with life on the road. She has a reputation as being private — even aloof — in interviews, but we found her to be inviting, engaging and downright giggly.

Jaime Lees: You have so many different projects. How do you decide what you’re going to work on? Is it deadlines?
Kim Gordon:
Yeah, deadlines. Exactly. Well, with the art stuff, some things you have to create [on deadline], either projects with someone or sometimes you get asked for a show. I work on ideas and stuff, but when it really comes down to it, it’s all about a deadline.

Do you complete your art first and then look for a show for it, or do you hear about an interesting show and want to create something for it?
It’s kind of a little of both. Right now I’m in this show in Graz in Austria, a group show. I don’t usually like group shows, but this one was interesting. I like the curator [Diedrich Diederichsen]. He’s a writer before he’s a curator. [Along with] my friend, Jutta Koether, who’s an artist, they asked us if we wanted to do a collaboration.

So how can you spend half of your life on the road and still be painting?
Well, this has been a really busy spring, but generally we just tour around a record. We’re not one of those bands that goes on tour for a year or something. We have a daughter, and Lee has kids so, you know, I try and tour around her school schedule. We’ve been gone a lot this spring already, so it’s hard. And I think it’s actually harder for moms to leave their kids. I know some people say, “How come people don’t make a big deal about asking fathers what it’s like to go on the road?” It is hard for them, too, but I think it’s easier if you have one parent at home that’s taking care of it.

Do you bring her [daughter Coco] with you on tour?
Sometimes. But as she’s gotten older she’s been able to stay home with someone. And she prefers to stay home. [Laughs]

When you’re out touring and you get to each new city, do you have something you like to do there? You know, like some people like to find the city’s best restaurant or used bookstore or whatever.
Oh yeah, we’re totally into picking out good restaurants. And actually, Mark [Ibold, of Pavement fame], who is playing bass with us now, he’s really great at looking up food websites, and he always knows about places to try. But when we first started touring, it was always like, “Where’s the good barbecue place?” [Laughs] So when we get to a city, sometimes we’ll get day rooms at a hotel. We usually have a few hours during the day to hang out before we do sound check, and sometimes we have interviews.

So you have sound check and then you go do your dinner thing before the show?
Sometimes. I mean, you have to eat a certain amount of time before the show. Steve, our drummer, won’t eat if it’s less than five hours before our show.

Does he get barfy?
[Laughs] He just plays better. And you do play better if you’re not full. Nothing like a whole lot of barbecue and then having to go onstage! [Laughs]

So do you get any of your other work done on tour? I mean, it’s not like you can paint on the bus…
It’s hard. Some people can do a lot of stuff on tour. I can’t because I have a perpetual state of exhaustion because I don’t sleep on the bus very well. Like, Lee seems to always have little projects he’s working on, but I’m not so good. I’m going to try and seek out, like, yoga classes and things like that to offset the barbecue. [Laughs] It’s a little anxiety provoking, actually, to have to go away for six weeks. In fact, I’m in the middle of packing right now.

I know, like, how many shoes do you bring? Who knows?
Yeah, it’s like, how do I pack all these vitamins? I always over-pack. But you’re basically living out of a suitcase for six weeks. It’s like, you buy all these clothes [at home], but then you kind of have to say goodbye to them. [Laughs] It’s hard to go away during the summer, actually. But it’ll be fun once we get going.

Is it easier for you guys when you’re touring with another band, because then you have more people around to hang out with? Or is that just annoying?
[Laughs] Well, it can be. You’re together all the time, and sometimes you sort of create a distance, because otherwise you would really be irritated all the time. [Laughs] Twelve people on a bus is kind of hard. But anyway, God, it’s nice to be asked other questions than normal, you know? I mean, we get tired of the same questions all the time so it’s going really well so far. You’re doing a good job.

Well, thank you. I’m bored with reading the same questions all the time. So, do you ever have free time? Do you ever have a time where you’re at home, and you don’t have any huge projects staring at you?
Um, pretty much never. But last summer, we only did a little bit of touring, but that was the first time in maybe twenty years where we hadn’t toured in the summer. I mean, it was kind of shocking, actually. But when I’m home I procrastinate about doing things so I can hang out with my friends. Like now, I should be getting my things done, but I’d rather see my friends before I go, so…

So what are you doing when you get back from tour? What’s your next big thing?
Well, Mirror/Dash, the clothing line, is kind of an ongoing thing. But for the next project, I have a book I’m working on, my paintings, and I’m sort of working on another painting series. But we’re going to do a bunch of touring in the fall, so I’m kind of keeping my schedule as open as I can. I don’t want to be too…pressured. But as busy as I am, Thurston has many more projects than I do. I don’t know how he does it, really. But it’s energizing if you get stuff back from it.

  • Riverfront Times (St. Louis) – link
  • reprint in The Pitch (Kansas City) – link
  • reprint in Dallas Observer – link
  • interview outtakes at A to Z blog – link
  • Sonic Youth – website
  • Sonic Youth – Facebook
  • Sonic Youth – Twitter
  • Urban Outfitters – Mirror/Dash
  • Michael Schmelling – website