Back in September, nostalgia-hued indie-rock sorts Yuck, straight out of London but sounding more like Californian kids raised on a diet of Dinosaur Jr, released their second LP, ‘Glow & Behold’. It marked the beginning of phase two for the band, after the departure of frontman Daniel Blumberg.
Today, Yuck is fronted by founding member Max Bloom, beside Mariko Doi, Ed Hayes and Jonny Rogoff. It’s Max who provides Clash with this track-by-track guide to the act’s latest long-player.
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‘Sunrise In Maple Shade’
“I wanted to start this album with an instrumental, to set a certain atmosphere before the album began. I feel like without the restriction of lyrics your mind is more able to drift away and picture certain scenes or images. The idea with the instrumentals was to treat the album like a 12-hour period, starting off in the morning and ending up at night.
“There’s an ambient track running underneath this whole song which I recorded on one of our American tours. We stopped at a petrol station on a really hot day and I found a swamp and hid my dictaphone there for a while, just to see what would be recorded. I heard nothing too out of the ordinary, but I found the sound of the insects and the trucks going by really soothing, so that was a kind of starting point for this track.”
‘Out Of Time’
“This is probably the oldest track on the album. I remember writing this about three years ago in my first flat in Stoke Newington. Since I wrote it, I knew I wanted it to be at the start of this album.
“I guess this is quite a simple song, and I've grown to appreciate simple songs and melodies more and more over the past few years. I wanted this song to be quite an uplifting start to the album, and I guess it’s quite happy musically, but lyrically it has quite a melancholy meaning for me.
“I remember when we were recording this one, we spent a really long time getting that Theremin sound at the end using a Korg Kaossilator. it was really irritating… I wanted to throw it at a wall by the end!”
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‘Lose My Breath’ (video above)
“This song was always supposed to be nearer the end of the album, but a day before the album went into mastering we decided to change the tracklisting around so this was at the beginning, and it ended up flowing a lot better. Stuff like that always happens a day before mastering, and it always stresses me out so much at the time, but it’s always worth it in the end!
“This is quite a happy and joyful song, and it was really fun to record, too. The main riff kind of phases in and out in such a way that it sounds like a synth, which I like a lot. I remember we also turned the Marshall stacks up so, so loud to record the rhythm guitar for this one as well!”
“I’m really proud of this song. It’s one of the more meditative moments of the album, and I think it has a really important place. It has a relatively simple melody and structure so there’s a lot of space around the sounds.
“We experimented a lot in the studio, with old tape delays on the guitars, which was really fun. You can hear that most obviously on the last 30 seconds of this track. The tape was so old that you could hear what other people had been doing on it before us! So, potentially, someone’s hit record has worked its way into the background of one of the guitar tracks.”
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‘Middle Sea’ (video above)
“This was one of the last songs that I wrote for the album. It came from quite a frustrated and angry place, and I remember it was written quite quickly. I really like the drum sound on this: you can hear the sound of the church hall.
“Vocally, this was quite hard to record because I would always shout the verses so loud so that my voice would always be completely shredded, which meant that we couldn't really do any more vocals for the rest of the day. But maybe that pissed me off which fed into the track more, who knows.”
‘Rebirth’ (video below)
“This song is quite unique in comparison to the rest of the album, and I guess the same can be said about how it was recorded.
“I wanted to get a really full and watery texture with the guitars. We used a really old Vox AC30, which we double tracked and put hard left and right, and then we used a Roland Solid State keyboard amp, mic’ed up both speakers and put that in stereo running down the middle of the track. I’ve never used one of those, without the valves they sound quite cold and artificial, but I was really fond of it. I think that amplifier added a really interesting texture to the guitars.”
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“I think this is probably the song that I’m most proud of out of the whole of Yuck’s output to date. This is the track where I was most grateful to be recording in a church. I see this as quite an isolating song, so making the use of that huge church hall was really important for the sound.
“I remember we recorded the guitars quite late at night, it was so romantic, I nearly kissed (producer) Chris Coady several times. We set microphones up on the ceiling, as far away from the guitar amps as possible. Branches kept tapping on the roof and I kept thinking it was ghosts!
“All the reverb you can hear is completely natural, which was really amazing for me because I’m normally used to having reverb as a plug in, or turning a dial to change the sound of it. This is completely different, like recording the reverb itself as an instrument. We also used the old church organ as well, which was really amazing.”
“This song holds a very special place in my heart, and is another pretty old one. It’s a really romantic song for me. I love the combination of ‘Somewhere’ fading into this song. I feel like this song really summarises my love for Grandaddy, which probably doesn't really come across all that much!
“We started getting pretty ridiculous when we were recording this song. I didn’t smoke weed at all when I was recording the album, but I did smoke weed once and I found these sound effects of whips cracking on an old keyboard, so I had to record them onto the track.
“Unfortunately it sounded really good, but it was so funny, so we were in a bit of a debate over whether to keep it or not. In the end we decided to take it off because it sounded too cheesy… but maybe one day, as a B-side, I’ll release the version with the whip crack!
‘How Does It Feel’
I wrote this track when I was really heavily listening to ‘Rings Around The World’-era Super Furry Animals, and also lots of Wilco. I guess it’s kind of a goofy track – I wanted to make something quite cosmic and spacey sounding, but also something quite classic and ‘60s Burt Bacharach-sounding. I associate this song with ‘Out Of Time’, because it sounds quite happy but has a melancholy feel running underneath.
“I remember we used a 12-string baritone guitar to record the bridge section. The guy who owned Dreamland (the studio near Woodstock, where ‘Glow & Behold’ was recorded) – his name is Jerry Marotta – brought it in for us that day, which was just a happy coincidence. I should probably say that Jerry was a big part of this album, only because I love him so much! He used to drum for Peter Gabriel, and we bought each other whisky. He’s one hell of a man!”
‘Twilight In Maple Shade’
“This is the second and final instrumental of the album. I wanted to make a connection with the first album by having an instrumental as the penultimate track – on the first album it was a song called ‘Rose Gives A Lilly’.
“With this instrumental, I wanted people to picture a dark forest just a few minutes before everything goes pitch black. It’s a pretty incredible time of day, and luckily I got to experience that exact atmosphere every single day when I was recording this album. The environment of where we recorded definitely had a huge impact on the album, particularly with this track.”
‘Glow & Behold’
“This song was one of the last to be written for the album. This was quite an interesting one to record. We recorded some of the guitars through a really old rotating Leslie organ speaker, which sounded really weird and cool. I wanted this song to be quite a big and bold closing statement for the album. If you’re listening to it at night-time, then I guess when the trumpets kick in you should be picturing fireworks!
“There was a lot of debate over what we should do with the long guitar tape loop at the end: whether we should fade it out, and then fade it back in again. But we just let it run until the end. I like listening to loops like that, over and over again; it makes you lose perception of what you’re hearing after a while, like when you say the same word over and over again until it loses meaning!”
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Yuck headline London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire on February 19th. Interested sorts can find out more about the band via their official website. ‘Glow & Behold’ is out now, if that wasn’t already made clear, and can be streamed in full via Deezer, below.