Formed from the ashes of indie forgettables Cajun Dance Party, a pinch of sand from the Colorado desert and a single hair from Kevin Shields fringe, Yuck were one of the most successful UK breakthrough acts of 2011. Their self titled album reminded us all of a time when all you needed to make some songs was guitars, drums, an 8-track and a garage.
Having aurally battled critic and music-fan alike, Yuck’s debut made it onto DIY’s albums of 2011. Here’s what they had to say for themselves.
Firstly, thank you for making what we deem as one of the top albums of 2011, how does it feel to get such a great response from all across the board?
Thank you! Many more people have heard it and actually enjoyed it than we expected. There were lots of really good albums this year so it feels surreal to be included in your list.
Are you generally the type of band to pay close attention to critics and reviews? Or do you like to distance yourselves from these things, whether it be the hype or the less favourable reviews?
We’ve toured the album and dwelled on it for a while but when it comes down to it we’ve only made these songs and now we’re making new ones and it’s exciting. I don’t read or pay attention to good or bad reviews just because I don’t really know the people writing them so I don’t know if I should trust their opinion. It’s difficult to ignore opinions so it’s easier to just make decisions and decide things between ourselves.
Could you tell us a bit about the recording of the album? Where and when did it take place, for example?
We did the drums for most of the songs in a few different studios around London, then we went to Max’s parent’s house and he recorded the guitars on his 8 track. Then I took the 8 track to my flat and we recorded the vocals there. Then Max mixed it at Gunfactory studios in London and a man called Matt Pence mixed two songs in Texas. When we started writing together we recorded everything onto the 8 track so we decided to keep doing what we were doing.
Do you have any interesting tales to tell from the recording process? Or was it a pretty workaholic affair?
Not really, the neighbours complained at Max’s house. And speaking of neighbours, I had to do lots of the vocals again because the footsteps from my neighbours upstairs were adding ambient out of time percussion to all our songs. So I ended up doing the vocals all in one go one time, I just sung the album from start to finish.
Apart from the songs that Max and Llana sung and also ‘Get Away’, I don’t really drink but for some reason I thought I should get really drunk for recording that song, so it would sound more jovial. It’s weird re-recording stuff sometimes, you have to get into a certain mood but maybe not a drunk one…
Being your debut album, was this the first time you’ve properly spent whole lengths of time solely in the studio?
We actually didn’t really spend much time in the studio. Only for the drums and Jonny did them all in one take - that was quite funny. We didn’t even play along with him, he just played with a click. I think his brain is somewhat weird.
Could you tell us how the lead single ‘Holing Out’ came about?
We tried recording that in a studio the first time and then we didn’t like it so that’s why we decided to record the album on the 8-track. Sometimes people called it ‘HolDing out’ at the start and that was quite funny. The Video Nasties have a lyric on their song Gobi which goes ‘holding out for you’ so when people started calling it that I thought maybe I’d stolen it but then I remembered that it’s actually called HoLing out and there’s a big difference between a hole and a hold, isn’t there?
And what’s the story behind the album art? Did the band illustrate the sleeve themselves?
I started doing these drawings when we started writing these songs. When I was writing the lyrics I’d normally be drawing too so they’d come together at the same time. I think they have a relationship with one another. They fill in each others gaps. I just realised that what I just said sounds very sexual.
Anyway, we started using the drawings for our release covers and I made photocopied, stapled books to sell at shows when we started playing live. It was strange because i stopped doing them as soon as the album was mastered and then i realised how linked they were.
Now our label Fat Possum have made all of the drawings from that period into a really nice hardback book. The answer for that question was basically an advert for the book.
Now some time has passed, is there anything you’d change about the record? Maybe something born from this being your first full-length release?
No not at all, the only thing I regretted was not putting certain songs on there. We kept playing these other songs (we’d written or recorded at the same time as the album) live and I wished they’d gone on the album.
But now Fat Possum made a DELUXE/EXTENDED edition of the album, that problem has been solved and now all the songs are together like they should be. The answer for that question was the advert for the deluxe edition of the album as well!
How have the fan responses been live? It must surely be a great feeling finally having enough material released that everyone in the audience would know the words of, right?
It definitely has been crazy to go to different places and hear people singing these songs we made. Brazil was the weirdest time that happened. I’m not too used to it yet, I don’t really know what I’m meant to feel about things like that, it’s quite exciting at the time when it happens but it’s also strange. I also really enjoy supporting other bands when the audience don’t necessarily know any of our music.
Is a follow-up likely for 2012?
I have no idea actually. We’ll probably just release it whenever it’s finished. Probably 2012, as I think 2011 is running out so we should wait till then.
You were one of the breakthrough acts of this year, do you have any tips for who we should watch out for next year?
Personally it feels like we’re a really new band still. But definitely Fanzine. they’ve become such an amazing band this year. Every time I hear a new song by them I get so excited.
Yuck’s self-titled debut album came 20th in our Top 50 Albums Of 2011. Read numbers 20 - 11 here.