London trio Yak are already so experienced with this touring business, they’ve got their own favourite service stations. “We get up to all sorts at those places,” jokes frontman Oliver Burslem, mischievously. “I couldn’t possibly go into it…”
All the talk surrounding Burslem, bassist Andy Jones and drummer Elliot Rawson - and there’s a lot of it - circuits around their live reputation. Fierce, far-flung shows go into the deep beyond by default. Walls shake, floorboards rattle and lured-in onlookers go cross-eyed. It’s absorbing to an extreme. But that’s just the half of it.
It’s when Yak get off stage that things begin to take a life of their own. A hazey-effect video for debut single ‘Hungry Heart’ probably overstates the acid-like trip of it all, but it’s not far off. Amongst the various stories that Burslem lists off, best of all is “going to a metal night and meeting some guy from Ghana”, partying with Bristol gig-going legend Big Geoff before “going back to the hotel and playing backgammon” and Jones getting lost in a Sunderland casino. Every city brings a new escapade, and with support slots on forthcoming Peace and Palma Violets tours around the corner, Yak aren’t going to keep quiet.
The group formed on a whim, according to Burslem, who’s known Jones since they were both twelve. “We gave up playing, and then a year ago we thought we’d get together and have a bit of a bash. Elliot sent us a message saying, ‘Do you want some drums?’ We said, ‘Are you any good?’ and he said ‘Yes’.” Simple as that.
When it comes to the true bare bones of these three, the backstory isn’t as unpredictable as their tour anecdotes. Sonically, there’s no fancy stuff, no gimmicks to latch onto. “‘Hungry Heart’ is about two notes. It’s not rocket-science. I love simple music. I like repetitive, stupid music - beans music,” says the frontman. “We’re used to doing work. This isn’t work - this is just a big holiday, really. As long as the offers come in, I’ll play every night.”
“For any bands who say it’s hard work, it’s fucking bullshit,” Burslem adds. “We went and played Glasgow, I drove all the way there, played the gig, drank all night and made our way to Sunderland, piece of piss, woke up the next morning. It’s really, really easy,” he claims, rocked up in the back of the band’s knackered but loveable tour van, lightbulbs hanging from the roof by a single, struggling wire. It’s not paradise, but it’s clearly where Yak belong. Now the live game’s been honed to the nth degree, expect this journey to go onwards and upwards.
Photos: Emma Swann. Taken from the March 2015 magazine of DIY. Yak’s debut ‘Hungry Heart’ 7” single is out via Fat Possum.
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