“Bernard Butler let me take all of his iTunes onto my iPod. I don’t come from a music family at all; it was a silent household apart from me,” says Yuck frontman Max Bloom, who is sat with Clash on a blustery Shoreditch rooftop, just a couple of miles from his Dalston home.
This gestation period of listening to music that Butler gave Bloom when he was a teenager has resulted in him making music that outshines the Kooks-lite sound of his first band, Cajun Dance Party. Butler was actually the producer on their album, but it seems that his artistic guidance didn’t really sink in until Bloom and former Yuck singer, Daniel Blumberg, left CJD to form their new band.
“When I discovered My Bloody Valentine and Dinosaur Jr. that really changed things for me,” explains Bloom, who is back from a six-week American tour in support of Yuck’s third album, ‘Stranger Things’ (their second without Blumberg). “[Daniel] wanted to do other creative things, that’s the short story of it,” says Bloom, showing slight unease remembering the intense challenge it left him facing.
But while they were together and it was working they had a brilliant creative time, rehearsing at The Gun Factory studio in Homerton, East London, and sparking some magnificent ideas that pricked the ears of scuzzy melodic rock-loving US label, Fat Possum, who signed them. The band ended up on a strong wave of momentum playing high-profile events like Primavera Sound, gaining the same level of respect as bands such as The Smith Westerns and Girls. So, when your best mate and frontman ups and leaves it must be a hard pill to swallow. “It was really difficult because it was a very awkward situation with my best friend essentially,” Max confides. “But my friends and family helped me a lot during that time and I managed to get through it. It was a really difficult decision and a really difficult time.”
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It was a really difficult decision…
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Remarkably, Bloom managed to fill Blumberg’s thoroughly enigmatic boots and defy the odds in sustaining the band’s momentum by writing a remarkable second album, ‘Glow & Behold’. “When [Daniel] left it wasn’t that hard to transition without him,” Bloom explains. “That being said, it was also incredibly hard and it was a huge learning curve.”
‘Stranger Things’ is Yuck’s most realised effort to date. Bloom, an independent music fanatic whose favourite producer is Steve Albini, has left the comfort of his label and, along with his manager, has taken on all responsibilities. “It’s the first album that we did absolutely everything for,” he says. And when he says everything, he means everything: touring, distribution, recording, and beyond.
This puts the band in a unique position compared with previous efforts where they always relied upon an outside hand. “On the first record we did the drums in the studio in Old Street and then recorded the guitars and everything else ourselves. The second album someone else did it entirely with a producer and on this album we did it all ourselves, which was very gratifying, and a lot easier.”
This indie spirit seems to be suiting Max. He’s completely undeterred by the challenge, and quite critical of the norms of having a producer. “I feel like the term ‘producer’ is pretty redundant nowadays,” he affirms. “If you’re a producer that’s great for a band who have no artistic vision or no idea what they’re doing whatsoever. But because recording is not a science any more – you don’t need to know how to operate a tape machine or a mixing a desk; you just need a laptop and an interface and you’re good to go… We merely used an eight-input interface and our pedals, and amps to get the sound – it cost us literally nothing to record,” smiles Bloom.
Despite having infinite control with the digital technology, the band chose to keep things simple to retain the spirit of their ’80s and ’90s DIY influences. “We made a special effort to not go overboard with overdubs so would we would be able to play everything from the record on stage,” Bloom says. “It’s a very magical thing to hear two electric guitars together and drums and bass. There’s something very amazing about it that I really like.”
It’s this irrepressible love of live music that keeps Bloom inspired and putting up with long periods on tour and being estranged from his home and girlfriend. “Music is something I always do out of habit,” he says. So does that mean there will there be another Yuck album soon? “I make music all the time and don’t always know really what it’s for – if another Yuck album comes then fine.” Time will tell, but from meeting Bloom we get the sense life in Yuck is more steady and inspired than ever before.
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Yuck spoke to Clash ahead of our Marshall x BoxPark takeover. Kicking off today (May 13th) the Shoreditch event features exclusive DJ sets, live music from BLESS, Bella Figura and Sample Answer. Plus there might just be a few free drinks on offer from our good friends at 808 Whisky from 5pm… first come first served.
Words: Cai Trefor
Photography: Lee Kirby
As if that wasn't enough, Clash are able to give away a Marshall London Smart Phone and a pair of Marshall Major II Wireless headphones! To stand a chance of winning simply tell us which song you'd love to blast out of some Marshall equipment…