1.There was a recent discussion about how so many different musical
avenues have now been explored, that there may never be another innovative
musical movement. Would you agree with this?
I dont know, I think you can never say never! But, I think
we sort of feel like the way to be innovative, is to combine many different
genres and to sort of embrace the availability of so many different
types of music. The fact that people arent so strict about genre
definitions anymore (pausing), you can easily like something thats
from around the world, as much as something thats part of a local
music scene. So, I think our way of being contemporary, is to really
embrace a kind of openness. But, I do hope theres something innovative
that will come out, which will make me go: Ive never heard
of that style of music before!
2.Throughout the history of popular music, which artists / bands
do you think have successfully managed to re-invent themselves and keep
pushing things forward?
Well, lets see (thinking)
I mean I think The Beatles
were really good at re-inventing themselves. I think David Bowie is
good at re-inventing himself. Bob Dylan I think has a lot of cool styles
I really like Time Out Of Mind and some of his later albums.
Leonard Cohen, he has a great lounge / Serge Gainsbourg-style album
from The 80s, called The Future, which we were all really into.
Neil Young changes it up all the time. Prince
Obviously, I could
keep going on and on (laughing), but I feel like anyone that I really,
really respect and love, doesnt do the same thing over an over
again you know?
3.Would you say that Yeasayer could have existed in any musical decade?
I dont think so, because of the technology that we use.
The way that we use computers to kind of help us write songs, is very
contemporary (pausing), I suppose if we were alive in different eras,
we would probably be trying to make music. But I dont know if
we would have been able to achieve the same kind of success that we
have in this day and age, without the advent of the Internet and the
spread of music digitally and the blog atmosphere and everything. So,
I think were definitely very fortunate right time, right
4.How often do you learn / deconstruct other peoples songs,
to help develop new techniques and increase your knowledge of sounds
etc. and do you have any specific examples of tracks that youve
analysed, or musical arrangements that you are fascinated by?
I dont really do that, but I love figuring out chord progressions
to songs and having singalongs to Tom Petty or something like that.
Ive thought about as an exercise, trying to recreate a David Bowie
song or something, but Ive never really followed through with
it. Once when I was in school, I was in a video class and I (pausing),
I wanted to just play one of my own songs to make a music video, but
for some reason, we werent allowed to. So I did a cover of a Kraftwerk
song, called Neon Lights, and made it much more organic sounding and
weird, with cello and harp, stuff like that. So thats the only
time that Ive ever really done that, with a pop song.
5.Ian Curtis believed that every song you start, you should
finish. Would you agree with this?
I mean, John Lennon had a theory that if you start writing a song,
you should finish it that same day or something. Ive found that
sometimes that works, thats good, but then other times, I find
its good to come back to something after youve reflected
on it, or to take an incomplete / partial song and present it to your
co-creators and collaborators and say: Hey, what can you add to
this? And then they make it way better and you have this kind
of synergy, that you wouldnt get by just sitting there and finishing
it an hour. So, I dont know? But yeah, its worth it to explore
a sentiment and to see it through and not give up.
6.On a similar note, how closely do your songs match whats
in your head?
Well, the thing is, I dont really ever create songs in my
head Im not like someone who has a full song in my brain
that I just need to get down on paper. Im not like a Mozart genius
(laughing), and I think all of us like to tinker, where we play something,
get something going, create loops and experiment over the top of it.
We sing various melodies, see if it sounds good and create words to
fit to it etc. So, youre constantly transforming what your idea
of the song is. But there have been songs that Ive completely
demoed out and Ive seen them through to the best of my abilities
to completion, and then I bring them to the band and they completely
change. That happens quite often too.
7.Of all your songs to date, are there any that have taken on a life
of their own / gone beyond your expectations, i.e. peoples reactions
No, never (laughing)! The more you listen to a song, I feel like
the more (pausing), you know, we had this one song that we were constantly
mixing and then suddenly we thought: Oh shit! We lost the goose-bumps
what happened!?! I dont know if we listened to the
old version now, if wed be like: Oh, theres the goose-bumps!
Or if it was just because we listened to that particular mix ten times,
so that by the eleventh time, we didnt get goose-bumps anymore?
Then you start to wonder if it will give anybody goose-bumps. But, I
think the more that you beat at a song, the worse it gets. So, you just
hope that even though youve listened to a song a thousand times,
that someone else will find something good in it.
8.Is there a track that you consider to be A Perfect Pop Song?
(exhaling a deep breath) Oh man! A Perfect Pop Song
(long pause + thinking)? Probably Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper.
9.What was the first instrument that you ever owned and is there
an instrument that you would still like to own?
Well, Ive actually played cello my entire life, but Ive
never owned a cello. Because as a child, I was always growing through
different sizes and they were very expensive, so I never owned one,
I always rented them or borrowed them from people who owned them. So
thats something that I would like to own, just for my personal
pleasure of spending leisure time practising cello (smiling)!
10.Youve now played shows all over the world but have there
been any particularly memorable places for you?
Oh god (thinking), Id say Australia and New Zealand were
pretty amazing, yeah! In New Zealand, we went to this beach called Piha
Beach, which was this volcanic black sand beach and you could climb
up this rock I think it was called Elephant Rock or something.
But at one time, it was a fishing village, so when you climbed to the
top of the rock you could see the whole coastline, so that was pretty
11.At a guess, how many gigs do you think youve played since
you started as a band and what has been the most memorable crowd / incident
that has happened at a show?
Well, weve played a lot of shows, but just last week in
Glasgow, we played to a pretty memorable crowd. There was a guy who
just got up onstage with face-paint on and started dancing he
was probably 13-years-old but that was pretty awesome because
he had to get up onstage and do like a little jig. It was great (laughing)!
12.If you had an unlimited budget, what would be your dream stage set-up?
Oh god, I dont know wed probably have a crazy
light show! We were talking the other day about having these screens
that project on a 45-degree opaque sheet of glass, and then that creates
this hologram onstage. I think it would be great if we could be dancing
next to holograms onstage (laughing).
13.Last year, 20 acts paid tribute to REM @ Carnegie Hall, NYC
a night billed simply as The Music of REM and the
show was the fifth in a series of charity events which have previously
honoured the likes of Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and
Elton John. But if you had to choose a legendary artist / band to be
honoured in the same way, who would it be and why?
You know, whenever I think of artists that I really love, I think
about how I really hate it when other people cover them. Like Arthur
Russell for example I love Arthur Russell but I dont
want to hear Jens Lekman doing a cover of an Arthur Russell song you
know? With someone like Neil Young, or whoever, they have such a distinctive
style that it makes the song so unique, that when someone covers it,
it just cheapens it and it becomes a coffee-house kind of thing. So,
I would rather people keep creating original things, unless youre
really going to do something strange as a cover.
14.Do you have any hobbies outside of the band?
Ive started playing squash, so Im trying to get into
that thats going to be my work-out to get me into shape
(smiling) and I like watching movies as well.
15.I was reading the other day, how when The Jam spilt in 1982, it
made the national news in the UK and came as a great shock to the bands
fanbase. But, has there ever been an artist / group whose decision to
call it a day took you by surprise, as you felt that they still had
so much more left to give?
I was pretty sad when Pavement broke-up although now theyre
getting back together, but just to cash-in on their popularity really
I think, because I dont think theyre doing any new music
together. I mean, I was very sad when Kurt Cobain died obviously (pausing),
gosh, Im trying to think who else (thinking)
that was sad, not that I was expecting him to do much good work after
Um (thinking), thats pretty much it, because I
wasnt alive when The Beatles broke-up to be sad about that (laughing)!
16.With the recent release of new Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix records,
what are your feelings on posthumous releases / people vault-raiding?
I think if its done in a responsible manner, posthumous
releases can be wonderful. I mean, I think most of the Arthur Russell
stuff thats out there was posthumously released Im
sure he may have been really disappointed with that but at a
certain point, you have to realise that he was someone who had an incurable
illness and just couldnt release stuff that was perfectly good.
So, if someone was to go into my computer hard drive and dig up incomplete
Pro Tools sessions after I died, I would be really, really pissed off!
But you know, I dont think were at that level of interest
where people just want anything from the brain of Anand Wilder (laughing).
Pretty much everything that we write and that were proud of, we
put out anyway were not hoarding any tapes (smiling), because
if were not recording, were on tour (laughing)!
17.Has there ever been an artist / band that youve religiously
collected everything on, from records to memorabilia to press-cuttings
to TV clips etc.?
No, I mean I think of myself as a Beatles buff, a little bit,
and other things that I have the most comprehensive collection of are
Neil Young and David Bowie, stuff like that. But, I dont think
Ive ever been one to just go completely bonkers for one particular
person though. I never put pictures of Syd Barrett all over my wall,
I just had one poster of him (laughing)!
18.Chris once said: Personally, when I write songs, I think
about little movies. So on that note, I really love your promo
videos, but if you were put in charge of an MTV Takeover, of all your
favourite music videos, which ones would you absolutely have to play?
Its funny, because we actually had this assignment for some
TV station. We compiled a big list of videos, but they wouldnt
let us play any of them, because we had to pick from their 45. But we
came up with a great list that included Fad Gadget, Collapsing New People,
theres this great Herbie Hancock video called Rockit I think,
I love the Lionel Richie video for Hello (laughing), thats a really
good one! Like A Prayer by Madonna, I really like that. Theres
a Siouxsie And The Banshees video that we like, but I forget what the
name of the song is. Theres so many great videos out there, but
so many really horrible ones as well (laughing).
19.Have you ever bought, or been tempted to buy an album based purely
on the artwork, not knowing what the actual music was going to be like?
No, but I hope that people will be tempted to buy our records
because of the artwork (laughing)!
20.The Fiery Furnaces once asked their fans to send in reviews of how
they thought songs on their next record were going to sound, without
having heard anything from it, and theyre eventually planning
to make an LP based on the results. Do you think this is an interesting
Yeah, thats cool, but I mean I dont really have any
interest in what fans expectations are, or what they want us to do or
anything like that. I think our job is to keep fans on their toes and
to keep tricking them and subverting their expectations!
21.When you were younger and prior to actually making records yourselves,
did you ever look at album credits, to learn more about producers, engineers
and the equipment / instruments used in recordings etc?
Oh yeah (excitedly), for sure! And I think thats part of
the reason why people go to see live music too, because you have this
completely audio experience and then you need to fill-in that information
thats missing, by adding a visual element. A lot of people think:
Oh, thats how that band recorded their album its
just them recording their live sound. But then you realise, that
maybe thats how it works for some bands, but for the likes of
us, were basically covering the songs that we create in the studio,
in a live setting.
22.Do you think the length of an LP is important, and what are some
of your favourite long and short records?
I think its important for what you want to achieve. If you
want to achieve the epic OK Computer, 53 minutes long or whatever, that
can be great that can be a wonderful experience all the way through.
Or, if you want to do something thats a little bit shorter (pausing),
like the early Beatles albums are like 30 minutes or less, and each
song is jam-packed even though some of them are under 2 minutes. So,
I just think it depends on what youre trying to achieve and I
think with Odd Blood, we were trying to be a little bit more poppy,
or have more verse / chorus / verse kind of songs. The intention from
the beginning, was to have a shorter album under 30 minutes, so that
when it finished, youd maybe say: That was short, I wish
there was more. Rather than get to the end and be like: That
was a little long, can we change it you know?
23.If you could collaborate with any dance act or DJ to create a Yeasayer
Vs. crossover track, who would it be?
Um, I dont know, it would be fun for us to do something
Vs. Major Lazer, that would be fun. Or Yeasayer Vs. Spank Rock (laughing)!
24.What do you think it is about NYC that has bred so many classic
bands over the years, and who do you consider to be among the Citys
I think its just an artistic and cultural centre for the
United States. Its a place where you can work freelance jobs and
not have to hold down a 9-5 and have time for your creative efforts.
There are a lot of venues to put your art or music on display, and there
are a lot of people who are really enthusiastic and encouraging
its a very encouraging environment for creativity! I think some
of New Yorks finest include: Blondie, Talking Heads, Television,
Simon & Garfunkel, Wu Tang Clan
But there are so many, and
I know Im definitely going to think about more 5 minutes from
25.Lastly, chips or cream buns?
Like sweet or savoury? I always like to do a combination. I think
I used to be a salt guy, so I would have gone straight for the chips.
But ever since I stopped drinking as much as I used too, Ive been
going for the sweet, because you need that kind of pleasure in your
A very special thanks to Anand, to Yeasayer for kindly
allowing me to photograph their soundcheck, to the bands Tour
Manager Iain, and to Nita + Josh @ Goldstar PR, for all of their time
You must stick up for yourself son
Never mind what anybody else done