Ahead of their Dublin show, Ciara Andrews speaks to Yuck singer Daniel Blumberg about the band’s success, influences and compliments from Mark Hoppus
They were just babes in arms when their musical influences were at the height of their careers, but that hasn’t stopped indie foursome Yuck from making an acclaimed album with a distinct vintage sound reminiscent of the early 1990’s.
Talking to lead singer Daniel Blumberg as he travels in the back of a van around France to continue their tour in support of the band’s self-titled debut album, it becomes clear that nothing about Yuck is conventional. When quizzed about the unusual choice for a band name, Blumberg admits to Otwo that they chose it “because it’s a funny name for a band”. He also describes how the band came to life after he met American drummer Johnny Rogoff in Israel. After hearing their sound, Rogoff decided to fly to the UK to join Blumberg and Max Bloom (Blumberg’s bandmate from his previous group Cajun Dance Party) as part of the band. With the addition of Bassist Mariko Doi from Hiroshima and the occasional backing vocal from Ilana Blumberg to the line up, the Anglo-American-Japanese band was born.
With tracks such as the infectious ‘Get Away’ dominating the indie airwaves, Yuck have had an exceptional year. Stints at SXSW and Electric Picnic over the summer have allowed the band to showcase their album to a wider audience than ever before, and they are now taking this new-found fame on a European tour stretching until the end of November, as Blumberg explains to Otwo; “The tour finishes at the end of this month and then we’ll be making music again”. Talk quickly moves to the band’s plans for a second album, which leads Blumberg to describe his writing process. “I don’t know if I’d call it a passion. It’s just something that I do. You can get as much joy out of it as frustration, so it must be passion.”
Developing out of the London music scene, Blumberg explains how it was a difficult process for the band to break out amongst the striking competiveness they found there. “It’s bullshit. That competiveness isn’t anything to do with making music. It’s just not a very good environment”. The band recorded their debut album in London, in Blumberg’s home and guitarist Max Bloom’s bedroom. Blumberg notes how this was quite a challenge for the band; “There wasn’t anyone saying ‘you need to finish it’ so that was quite tricky. I guess it just took longer”. The result of this long recording process speaks for itself as the band’s debut album has an undoubted rawness and frustrated yearning, as well as confident acoustics and vibrant melodies.
Blumberg also reveals to Otwo how the band has been dealing with their newfound fame and recognition. “It’s difficult to get your head around it. When you just start writing songs and then you’re suddenly performing them it’s a shock to the system, but there are many exciting things about playing live”. A personal high point for the band was their performance on Later… with Jools Holland in May and they can even add Mark Hoppus, singer and bassist of Blink 182 fame, to their list of fans as he has tweeted that he can’t stop listening to their album. Blumberg recalls his reaction to one of his idols praising the band’s album. “That was so funny. I used to listen to Blink 182 the whole time when I was younger. It’s really insane.”
When quizzed about the band’s grunge-driven early nineties style, Blumberg denies any conscious effort to recreate the sound stating, “loads of my favourite bands are from the nineties but you can’t really identify where you draw influences from. When we started writing songs together for the first time we didn’t really have any plans. We just write it song by song, not really thinking about it and for better or for worse, our album is pretty diverse”.
It’s a diversity that is easy to spot. The impressive variety in their songs ranges from the heavy fuzz-driven riffs of ‘Rubber’ to the sweet melodic sounds of ‘Shook Down’ and ‘Stutter’, proving that those who label Yuck as simply derivative copyists couldn’t be more wrong. Granted, they may not be the most inventive band you’ll hear this year, with their familiar sound reminiscent of late 1980’s and early 1990’s bands such as Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., but the effortless appeal of Yuck’s music cannot be ignored or written off. In a year of retromania, where bands seem to draw ever more heavily from past influences and somehow still manage to sound fresh, Yuck could be the microcosm of this entire style. There may be no musical revolution here, but Yuck have the perfect amount of confidence and vibrancy to pull it off.
Yuck play the Button Factory on November 26th. Tickets are priced at €15