Chicago’s Finest: YAWN
One of the best kept secrets of the Chicagoland alternative scene YAWN recently released their new L.P. Open Season and have begun touring in support of the album. Thankfully enough, they were able to take time out of their hectic schedule and answer a few questions about the current state of their band.
By: Richard A. O’Neill
Listen to YAWN and other top picks with DJ O’Neilllll on Fridays at 12PM
Q: After the release of your excellent self titled E.P. back in 2010 YAWN seemed to drop off of the Chicago music scene. What were you guys up to during this time and what finally prompted you to finally get back to recording?
A: We were doing just that, recording. We went on a few small tours, but really kept in all fall and winter writing and recording the new material.
Q: What is your recording process like? Is your band more of a, ‘block out the world and record for 16 hours’ or, ‘our music develops organically’ or where in between or perhaps something completely different.
A: Its a little bit of everything. We had that ‘block out the world’ sort of mentality going into mixing, but the process in which we record is also our writing process. A beat/sample/chord progression is recorded, we play it on the speakers and elaborate on it or jam out to it. That way we immediately have it as a jumping off point and start exploring other instruments or ideas. Sometimes its all of us, sometimes just two. Its kinda neat in that way. And ideas can certainly be molded or shaped outside the studio, just going about our day… in an organic way. I guess our main ethos is “try anything” – we’ll record any and all ideas and decide later what works and what doesn’t.
Q: Your latest album is more of a developed sound than what you have produced before. Do you contribute anything to this new found edge? New musical influences, better equipment, clearer heads gained through age?
A: Yes, all of those things, as well as getting familiar with recording on our own. The EP was a crash course in learning the DIY recording process. We got more technically proficient, learned a lot about recording methods, and bought better equipment. I think we are also just honing in on what we want our sound to be, you know, having a distinct vision for a song… and now we’re capable of getting that vision across… making it sound like it does in our heads.
Q: How is touring treating the band so far?
A: Touring has been a rollercoaster of emotions for us. Its fun playing shows, and getting into it with a different crowd every night, but its the crappy van problems and all the expenses that are weighing us down. This is what you get when you’re a broke band with a lemon for a vehicle. You really learn the cold business side of being a band.. it’s discouraging sometimes.
Q: Are you looking forward to being back in Chicago?
A: To be quite honest with you…. no. hahahha. We’ve spent a lot of time in Chicago. We kinda wanna get out of the city, and go elsewhere for a bit.
Q: Have anything to say about what type of audiences you find in Chicago? If so, any notable differences between us, ‘Berliners by the Lake’ than say the audiences you would find on the East or West coasts?
A: Its hard to compare. Chicago tends to be a tough town to play, but it seems we have a really close following of friends and fans. They come out and pack the venues when we play, and thats great. The scene here is scattered around. NYC and Philly have better laws on bars letting in 18 year olds in, so you see the venues packed every night.
Q: Hunter S. Thompson once said that you don’t go looking for acid but that it finds you when the time is ready. I only bring this up because you recently gained some interesting press focused on your song Acid. Like other current alternative bands such as WAVVES, Animal Collective, and the Smith Westerns; YAWN seems to be riding a new wave of psychedelic music which differs from the Acid-Rockers of the late ‘60s who promoted peace, love, and unity, and all that fun stuff. Why do you think that this new era of psychedelic music is more focused on feelings of vulnerability and childlike innocence rather than proclaiming a new age of Aquarius?
A: This is an excellent question. It seems to come from exterior forces, social, political and state of the world. In the 60′s the pop culture explosion joined people together. There was no internet, cell phones, twitters, so people just got together. Communally exchanging… everything really. So when acid came to them, it touched everyone… if there was enough to go around. So the music celebrated that. Today, we are wired. The internet changed us, through social networking we are really just becoming less social. This isolation, on top of the feeling of insignificance when you see how big the world is makes for a more introspective experience… for us anyway. When we took acid and wrote that song, it was just Adam and me, and we were huddled in our basement over our instruments. It’s fun to really explore your own emotions and moods… something we definitely do not need drugs to do but hey, being sober can get kinda boring sometimes!
Q: Any plans after the band is finished touring?
A: We’ve gotten a head start on some new material, so we’re definitely gonna record when we get back from tour. Who knows maybe there’ll be another YAWN release within a years time.
12/17 – Chicago – The Subbterranean w/Carbon Tigers, Treehous, Rites (Popstache 1 Year Anniversary)
Download their Self-titled EP here.
Catch YAWN as they tour the West Coast with the Kooks!
12/2 – Seattle – Showbox @ The Market
12/5 – Portland – Doug Fir
12/4 – Vancouver -Commodore Ballroom
12/7 – Los Angeles – The Music Box
12/8 – Los Angeles – The Music Box
12/13 – San Francisco – The Filmore