In last week’s Dollars To Pounds I joked that from now on I’d only interview bands from Stoke Newington in North London because it’s where I live and I am extremely lazy. This week I caught up with Yuck. Approximate distance from their house to mine: 800 metres. Not that I knew that when we set this up. Also, they were away on tour so it doesn’t really count. Yuck is a rag-tag quintet of junior dinosaurs with keen pop smarts and an easy charm. Their seemingly endless supply of stellar songs suggests the slacker tag they’ve picked up has more to do with fervent, faded melodies than a fondness for ennui and plaid. We spoke about deserts and Jazzmasters.
Download: Yuck, “Suicide Policeman”
I was trying to quit smoking, then I listened to “Suicide Policeman” and decided not to. It’s basically your fault that I’m still smoking.
Max: I said to Daniel that I was going to quit smoking in four years, to which he replied, “No, you quit when the first baby rolls out.”
Max and Danny, in 2005 you had an album out when you were 15 with Cajun Dance Party (The Colourful Life). What did you learn from that experience?
Max: I think for the most part we learned how to be better musicians, how to be more opinionated about what guitar sounds we use and how to get a sound we’re happy with…
Danny: I think also we were so young when we did that band and you change so much when you’re a teenager, we’re older now and our taste in music is so different and our lives are so different.
Danny, is it true you met Jonny in an Israeli desert? That’s pretty cool.
Danny: Max and I met when we were little. My first memory of him is us discussing the beauty of Sporty Spice. Last year I went to Israel to see some friends, I hitchhiked to this date farming community in the middle of the nowhere and Jonny was making lunch for everyone. He had this white apron on and poured me some ice tea. I was wearing a Daniel Johnston T-shirt and he was wearing an Animal Collective T-shirt so we just started talking about bands we liked. We ended up lying in the grass with some stray cats singing Silver Jews and reciting the whole of the Airing Of Grievances by Titus Andronicus. It was beautiful. I knew he was a drummer because he couldn’t stop air drumming and hitting wooden things. Max and I had been recording in his bedroom back in London and when we needed to get a band together we knew Jonny had to be the drummer so we asked him and he just dropped out of college and came. We knew Mariko from going to gigs in London and Ilana is my little sister so we met her aaages ago through my mum and dad.
Ilana is doing her A Levels at the moment. If she doesn’t get good enough grades will you kick her out of the band?
Danny: Yeah! No, if she gets good grades we’ll all buy her a Jazzmaster.
Max: I like Ilana the way she is.
If you could zip back in time and play a show, what would your dream lineup be?
Mariko: The Pixies—I want to hang out with Kim’s sister because they look really cool together.
Max: Superchunk—they’re one of my favourite bands, I want to see them live more than anything and I can’t go to Primavera this year.
Daniel: Neutral Milk Hotel—there’s all that footage on YouTube of them playing the songs from In The Aeroplane Over The Sea and I just wish I could have been there. That album is just so incredible on so many levels.
Jonny: Piebald—ever since I was younger they’ve been the band that I’ve loved. They’re just the coolest guys ever.
Who does the cool Yuck illustrations?
Danny: I do them. It’s interesting you call them illustrations rather than drawings because I sometimes think they illustrate our songs.
Like all the best people (ie me), you live in Stoke Newington. Where is your favourite place to hang out?
Danny: the best place in Stoke Newington is The House Of Game where Jonny lives. He wrote a theme tune called “Welcome to the House Of Game” which is amazing. They have a bong called Beatrice and a million posters that they bought from the record shop I work at. That’s the second best place to hang out. It’s called Lucky Seven Records and you can buy all your favourite Royal Trux albums for £3.
Max: My favourite place to go is Gun Factory studios, where we rehearse. My favourite people to meet here are Adam and Trev, they own the studio. I also like to go to The Birdcage, which is a pub exactly equidistant between mine and Daniel’s homes.