In the mythology of the United States, the West Coast came to represent an area of golden opportunity, the furthest out point a settler could travel in search of their independence.
With the Westward rush now over, the area retains a typically American sense of optimism, that anything might happen. It's a spirit, a feeling which runs through the music of Cayucas like ripples of water running down a dusty hillside.
Led by Zach Yudin, Cayucas are named in homage to a real life Californian town. Untouched by the wealth of tourism, the town itself is trapped in that tranquil, white picket fence America which didn't quite make it past 1969. Searching after some other, dream America, the band's debut album is all carefully etched songwriting, rich production and gasps of youth. Intrigued, Clash asked Cayucas guitarist Christian Koons to take part in Their Library...
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What is your favourite book and why?
Tough question to open with. I think I'd have to go with 'Franny & Zooey' by JD Salinger. It's the only book I've read front to finish in a day. It kind of just rocked my world in a lot of different ways. The book is basically just four conversations, but they're done so well. The Glass family, which I believe Wes Anderson based 'The Royal Tenenbaums' on, is fascinating. Salinger talks about ego, relationships, religion and spirituality in ways I'd never thought about before. He really cracked my mind open about a lot of things.
What other authors do you like?
There are a lot of contemporary short story writers making work right now that's just brutally good. George Saunders, Jim Shepard, and Denis Johnson are some of my current favorites. Also John Hodgman. He's the guy who played the "PC" in those old Mac vs PC commercials. He writes humor books though, too. And they're astoundingly funny.
What draws you to certain books?
A strong voice. I can read chapters - worth of pure description if the guy describing is doing it in a fresh, funny, or beautiful way.
Have you ever discovered a real lost classic? What is it and why?
Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
I don't think so. Songwriting is more sound and feelings based for me. Lyrics and subject matter usually come last.
What are you reading at the moment?
I'm juggling a few different things: 'Pulphead' by John Jeremiah Sullivan. A collection of his nonfiction. It's really well written and insightful. 'That Is All' by John Hodgman. It's about, among other things, the apocalypse. Hodgman's one of the only writers that makes me literally laugh out loud. 'My Bright Abyss' by Christian Wiman. The editor of Poetry Magazine's reflections and wisdom about love, death, and faith. What is the first book you remember reading as a child? The first series I got really into was 'Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice', and I'm not even close to ashamed about that. Those books were dope.
Did you make good use of your library card as a child / teenager?
Actually, no. I wasn't a big reader until college, and by that time my friends all had really good books I could borrow. As a kid I basically just read Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Have you ever found a book that you simply couldn’t finish?
I've started 'The Brothers Karamozov' a few times, and it's always really good, but something always gets in the way of my finishing it. It's so long.
Do you read book reviews?
Nope. There's too much good stuff to read and too little time.
Would you ever re-read the same book?
Yeah. I have a few times. And I read some short stories over again.
Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
All the time. I think to connect with a book at all you have to see a little bit of yourself in at least one of the characters. Holden from 'The Catcher in the Rye' is an obvious one, maybe the biggest one for me. Also the protagonist of 'Old School' by Tobias Wolff. I read that recently.
Do you read one book at a time or more than one?
More than one, usually.
Is there an author / poet you would like to collaborate with?
Oh jeez. Yes. But I'm not worthy. Tomas Transtromer is my favorite poet. He could write some pretty awesome lyrics, probably. But I doubt he'd have any interest in that. He won the Nobel Prize a year or two ago. He plays piano, too, though. So maybe we could write a song together.
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Cayucas' debut album 'Big Foot' is out now.
Photo Credit: Cara Robbins