GEN F: Yeasayer

Photographer Guy Martin
October 23, 2010

When not perusing soul-rotting gossip sites and far worse, I do my duty and search the internet for new and interesting music. Unfortunately, most of the bands I come across are not so much bad, as just, you know…who cares? So when something genuinely new and different sounding comes along, like Brooklyn-based outfit Yeasayer, it’s worth putting on some clothes (does nudity preclude “work”?) and standing up for it.

A lot of other people have also made it their duty to search the internet for new music, and accordingly, Yeasayer has been the subject of some increased chatter on the better parts of the web. This began when they posted a lone hypnotic song called “2080,” an infectious merging of art rock rhythms and Laurel Canyon pop harmonies. The band’s full-length, All Hour Cymbals, due this October, offers ten striking songs sculpted with a barrage of innovative sounds and beats in the service of some surprising hooks and heartfelt choruses—think solo Peter Gabriel and TV on the Radio catapulted into a future that resembles William Burroughs’s surrealistic Middle Eastern Interzone.

There aren’t a lot of hard facts out there about Yeasayer. No concise bio or moody pictures of them in tight pants. I was eventually able to land an interview, sort of. Not in person or on the phone, but via email. The band’s pleasant intermediaries explained that they have jobs, so it’s difficult to get them all in one place. Then Jason Foster, who serves as both Yeasayer’s manager and also heads their label, We Are Free (a new offshoot of his Baltimore-based Monitor USA), alluded to a deeper reason for the caginess. “We just really want this to be about the music,” he explained. “To keep a little bit of the mystery without being pretentious. Sort of like when a kid got his first Led Zeppelin record and was like, Holy shit, what is this?”

In the ensuing, but somewhat cryptic, email exchange, the four members of Yeasayer cite David Bowie’s Low, Wu Tang’s Enter the 36 Chambers, “almost anything by Fleetwood Mac” and “The Love Theme from Spartacus” as works that have influenced them. They deny being a psychedelic band, claim to be friends (two of them cousins), insist they are not inspired by drugs and that their album does not line up with The Wizard of Oz. When asked about their goals or intentions for All Hour Cymbals, singer Chris Keating typed out the following manifesto, which I suppose pretty much says everything you need to know: “We are tired of feeling like members of a lost generation who need to romanticize the past. We want to make interesting and diverse music that doesn’t sound like much else.”

Posted: October 23, 2010
GEN F: Yeasayer