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TAS in Session: Yeasayer


There has been a great deal of buzz surrounding the new album from Yeasayer called Odd Blood. The band made a lot of noise with their debut All Hour Cymbals, but Odd Blood is a bit more cohesive and focused. It's a great collection of catchy, dancey songs with amazing harmonies and cool beats.



Yeasayer came to The Alternate Side studios recently and performed four songs from Odd Blood. We talked about how the recording process differed this time around, how these songs came together, why they wrote about an old boxer in "Ambling Alp" and the 90s dance influence on the songs (including a discussion about Haddaway!):

Russ Borris: {With 'Ambling Alp,' who decided] to write a song about an old boxer?

Chris Keating: That would be me.

Russ: You just decide to write a song about an old dude?

Chris: I'm not particularly good at writing songs, so whenever I'm reading or watching a movie, I'm like, 'I need to write this song.' That's the hardest part. I was watching old documentaries about boxing and I thought, 'that would be cool, to try to write about that.'

Russ: Clearly everybody has a distinct love of harmony, it's all throughout the record, but it seems to come from different places from each of you personally. It clearly seems it's not all from Pet Sounds; there's other influences in there.

Anand Wilder: I've never even heard Pet Sounds, I have no idea what you're talking about.

Ira Wolf Tuton: Pet Shop Boys? (band laughs). I don't know, I think harmonies are something else you can take advantage of by arranging. I think the tendency is when you hear a rock band doing harmonies is you always liken it to Crosby, Stills and Nash or The Beach Boys or Yes. I think we did that a lot more on our first record than this one.

Anand: We tried to use harmonies a little more sparingly on this album.

Ira: More as a tool as opposed to shove it down your throat. As an arrangement tool to elevate certain parts.



Russ: The arranging seems to be a huge part of getting these songs together. When you're actually doing the arranging, how long is it taking you to try to get one thing done? It's not just strumming a guitar and trying to get a vocal right. There are a lot of elements coming into play here.

Anand: That's pretty much 99 percent of what we're doing when we're recording is just saying, 'Maybe we should play this keyboard part? No, let's scrap that. Maybe we should do this guitar part'

Ira (overlapping): Maybe this should be the bass line, the melody line ....

Russ: That seems like something that could be endless.

Ira: Yeah, [we have to have] self-imposed deadlines.

Anand: Luckily you have the live shows so you can keep improving upon the recorded material.

Russ: How are these songs playing live? Do you feel that they're a lot different? Still evolving?

Chris: I think some of them are still kind of evolving. Some of them are totally different. But it's still really early on touring on this album. We haven't really toured on this album in a major way yet.

Anand: Sometimes what works as a seventh song on an album doesn't work at all in a live setting. So you might have to stretch out a song or put a new, exciting beat over the song.

Russ: Definitely a dancier vibe on this album here and there. Was that a concerted effort going in?

Ira: Yeah, I mean we have to play this music for the next year, two years, so it was conscious for us. We want to enjoy playing it night after night.

Anand: When we made the first album we didn't know how much we would be touring so more down-tempo songs filled the flow of that album but this time we didn't feel like playing those types of songs live.

Chris: It felt like we needed to do something different in contrast to the last album. Something a little more electronic. up-tempo, try to mix in dancey kind of sounds with the weird other s**t we've got going on. We get accused of being very 80s but I don't think we are.

Anand: We took some inspiration from the 80s but also the 90s dance stuff that's kind of laughed at like Haddaway and The Real McCoy. These songs that you listen to know and go, oh, this gets me so pumped up - 'What is Love?' (all laugh).