With the Christmas alcohol severely depleted, the gravy down to its last drop and not a single sausage wrapped in bacon in the house, I had to admit defeat – The holidays were over. As a lover of this particular festive period, I could happily drag the occasion out for a few more months, but it was all but forgotten come January 4th. But there was light on the horizon. An unwrapped present beyond the tree, discovered two weeks late.
On January 12th, the fuzztacular ‘Hearts In Motion’ arrived on virtual doorsteps across the world; a nugget of heart-racing brilliance from Yuck. With the release of the new single came the announcement of their third album ‘Stranger Things’, set for release into the wild on February 26th.
Tongues had already been set to wagging-mode with the release of ‘Hold Me Closer’ last year, and these two snippets were soon joined by the frantic ‘Cannonball’ to whet appetites across the land. Even their Dads were on hand to lend some support (mainly for Jacuzzi/sauna purposes…)
On Stranger Things, Yuck have gone back to their roots – home to London and their old digs. Parts of the record were produced at front man Max Bloom’s parents’ house, in the same room where their self-titled debut album was recorded. The recording was down to Yuck – Max, bassist Mariko Doi, drummer Jonny Rogoff and guitarist Edward Hayes – a goal in mind to create a record that truly captured the band as they are, with minimal involvement from anyone else.
To coincide with the release of their third album, Yuck offered their most dedicated fans a little bit extra for purchasing a copy of the record, offering all manner of incentives on Pledge Music. Aside from the usual paraphernalia like T-shirts, vinyl and posters (boring!), there were such goodies as a life sized cutout of your favourite Yuck band member, a personalised Yuck sing-along at your Bar Mitzvah and even the much fabled Yuck Cruise! There was also this gorgeous little fella from the Hearts In Motion release.
As well as all manner of incentives to buy the new record, the past month has seen Yuck out in them there United States of America for SXSW and a run of shows across North America. On their return to Blighty, the quartet kick off a UK tour at Rough Trade East in London, culminating in a final show in Bedford at the end of May! Full details can be found here.
With Stranger Things now a month old, and with a mammoth run of shows looming, I pitched a number of questions to guitarist and vocalist Max Bloom, who was more than courteous in answering them.
BCFB: Your third album ‘Stranger Things’ is out now – How stoked were you to get it out for people to hear?
Max: I’m really excited. I don’t think I’ve ever been more proud of an album we’ve done. It felt good to do things completely on our own terms; it meant it came out more or less exactly how we envisioned it would.
You put the album up for release through Pledge Music, with some enticing exclusives (though I was gutted to see Yuck Cruise isn’t a real thing…)
How did you come to the decision to put up pre-orders through pledging? What were some of your favourite exclusives that you put together?
PledgeMusic was actually something that our manager Kurt suggested. It’s a really fun way to get people involved in your album campaign, and you can have a lot of fun with it. We’re already booked to do karaoke with someone in Austin, and I’m working on a second cover song for someone now. That one in particular ended up being a lot more work than I thought it would be!
You’ve put out a few singles in the lead up to the album’s release (including that delightful ‘Hearts In Motion’ picture disc!) How have people been responding to the new material?
People have been responding really well. I haven’t really been reading many reviews, but people seem to be enjoying the music and shouting the words in my face when we play live, so that can only be a good thing.
It’s been noted that the first couple of songs from the record were written on a coffee high. Where, when and how were the other songs conceived?
It depends… some songs are quite new, and some are a few years old. When we decide to write an album, we don’t sit down and write it. Sometimes songs written a long time ago suddenly make a whole lot of sense in this context. Songs like Hearts In Motion, Stranger Things and I’m Ok were written just after the 2nd album was released, and then songs like As I Walk Away, Down and Yr Face were written quite recently. Most of the songs were just written in my flat on acoustic guitar, but Ed wrote Like A Moth and Yr Face.
What sort of things were you taking inspiration from with this new record?
Anxiety and isolation seem to be quite common themes on this album, just because I was drawing upon certain feelings that I’ve been experiencing over the last couple of years. Musically I felt the need to make quite loud and happy music. I was listening to a lot of bands like Fugazi, Modern Lovers, Television Personalities, Wire, etc.
It was recorded back home in London, in what sounds like a stripped back, relaxed atmosphere. Can you tell us a little about the production process this time around and how it worked out for the four of you?
The production process was a lot more simple than it has been in the past. We recorded the drums in a rehearsal studio near where we live called Gun Factory. Jonny had all the drum mics, so we just booked a rehearsal room and recorded all the drums in a day. Then we recorded guitars and everything else in my parents’ house. It was pretty easy, we’ve refined our sound over the years so it isn’t easy just to put a mic in front of a guitar amp and know immediately whether it sounds good or bad.
I love the artwork you’ve been putting out for the singles – Who’s behind that side of things?
We worked with this illustrator called Sam Cardelfe (www.samcillustration.com). All our artworks previously have been quite abstract, so I was attracted to his style because it was quite literal. I sent him the album and pretty much just told him to interpret it in any way he wanted, and I was really happy with what he came up with. I’m so happy with the album cover, I think it works so well alongside the music and I don’t think it could’ve been any better.