Featured image from yuck.bigcartel.com/
I caught up with Yuck; a four-piece ‘grunge revival’ band, before their Shanghai gig last month to discuss Asia, their musical influences and their upcoming album. The band- composed of vocalist/guitarist Max Bloom, bassist/vocalist Mariko Doi, drummer Jonny Rogoff, and guitarist Ed Hayes- attracted a huge crowd and put on a fantastic show. With their dreamy vocals, catchy choruses, and laid-back feel, Yuck are definitely worth a listen!
How are you guys enjoying China so far?
Max: It’s good, it’s really interesting and eye-opening ’cause, obviously this is the first time we’ve ever been to China ever in our lives. We haven’t really got time to properly look at places, ’cause it’s mainly just been like flying on the morning of the show, getting in, playing the show, going to sleep and leaving really early the next morning.
So you haven’t seen any of the sights around here?
Mariko: We had some time off in Taiwan.
Yeah I saw a picture of you guys near the tower
Max: Yeah we had, like, two days off in Taipei which was cool, but in China we didn’t have as much time. We did some things, just not as much as I would’ve liked to.
Have you tried any of the local food though, like chicken feet or anything?
Ed: I had bull frog, but I ate it and there were just, like, bones in every bite! So much work and not much food.
Sounds like most Chinese food..
Ed: It’s just you don’t normally eat, like, thousands of bones, and just a tiny bit of meat… but the meat tasted good, so..
So do you notice any differences between performing here and in western countries?
Max: I think the crowds are a lot more lively in Asia, it’s quite nice coming over here for that. But then again, I don’t think that’s normally the case, I just think.. I don’t know! We had a really raucous show in Hong Kong, and apparently crowds aren’t normally like that. I don’t really know what the standard is because obviously we don’t normally play here. But yeah, the crowds have been really good, obviously it’s completely different from playing a show in England or America in a way I can’t really describe, cause you’ve got different people with a different culture.
What have the best and worst moments of the tour so far been?
Max: This tours been an emotional rollercoaster, like extreme highs and devastating lows. I’ll give you a run-down of the lows first of all. We got fucked around, royally, with our flights on the way out here, like there was so much shit from the start. The cab driver drove through central London and we were an hour late and we nearly missed flights and shit, it was so fucking stressful. Just shit like that. I lost my voice in Taipei as well…
Jonny: Oh yeah, my bag got left in Amsterdam! That wasn’t devastating though..
Ed: Every possible thing that could’ve gone wrong at every stage of the journey has.
Max: It’s mainly just been, like, stupid logistical shit.
Jonny: I had to borrow drumsticks off someone, which looks horrible as a musician, like ‘Excuse me sir, I’m at this big show with no drumsticks’!
Max: There’s been mostly good times, like playing new shows, they’ve all been great, and going sightseeing in Taipei was cool.
So what’s your favourite city been on this tour?
Jonny: But it’s not fair ’cause we also got like four days off there, everywhere else we were there for like two hours. It was amazing though.. Also you don’t have to wear a [pollution] mask. Not saying I dislike the mask, it’s a fashion statement for sure!
Have you guys noticed the pollution a lot then?
Jonny: I didn’t really notice the effect but I didn’t realise it was as bad as it was.
Ed: We got here and we were told that Shanghai’s a bit better than Beijing in terms of pollution, but we could just see like smog. I don’t understand, was it like, fog or was it smog?
It’s usually smog!
Jonny: While the airs not the best, I don’t think it’s a situation where I’m gonna need to something about it. We’ve got really intense, like really toxic painters masks. That was like the first thing that was given to us when we got off the aeroplane and I was like oh, this is business.
Ed: This is a business trip.
What venue/city would you most like to perform in that you haven’t already?
Jonny: I wanna play New Jersey ’cause we’ve never played there before.
Max: I’d like to say a music festival in Barbados.
Jonny: I wanna play Hawaii, I know it sounds cliché, but everyone who’s been to Hawaii say’s it’s kinda the greatest place.
I’d imagine so! So who did you all listen to growing up?
Jonny: My daddy
Max: It’s kind of embarrassing pre the age of about eighteen. I went through a jazz phase and a Beatles phase.
Ed: Yeah there’s always that and then, like, Beach Boys.
Max: You liked nu metal.
Ed: Oh yeah Metallica, um, Motley Crue was a big one for a couple of years before I got really sick of them and couldn’t listen to them at all. Uh, Jimi Hendrix.
Have you got to meet or tour with any of the bands you liked?
Jonny: Weezer we played a show on a cruise with. It was kinda surreal, I still can’t believe it happened. I’m still coming to terms with it three years later.
Max: That was kinda near Barbados!
Ed: Teenage Fanclub
Jonny: Weezer was huge band for me when I was very young. Nirvana was pretty big, REM, my mum had an REM casette. She gave me vitology by Pearl Jam.
Max: But we haven’t played with any of those bands
What do you think you’d be doing if you weren’t in Yuck?
Jonny: I would’ve finished college probably. Or maybe not.
Ed: Jonny got asked this question before and his answer was really good.
Jonny: Oh, I would be a….. Oceanographer. I was obsessed with the Titanic when I was a kid. Shipwrecks were a huge part of my childhood. I learned about lots of really weird obscure shipwrecks like the Bismark. The idea of them just sitting at the bottom of the ocean floor and the fact you could go explore them was the most incredible thing for me.
Max: Read into that what you will, that Jonny is obsessed with Shipwrecks.
Mariko: I never knew, that sounds cool.
Max: I think I’d study golf course management.
So what advice would you give to new bands on starting out?
Max: I think one definite piece of advice that I would give to new bands would be before anything to write loads of songs, maybe twenty, thirty songs before you show anyone anything. Because I know a lot of bands and my last band had the same thing, where you release four songs and release them on Myspace and you get this weird pressure of knowing that people might be listening to what you’re doing rather than just being alone in your bedroom or whatever. I think the writings just alot more honest when you think that no one will hear.
Ed: Also I think that you’re kind of stuck with that and you feel like you have to write songs in that way, you can’t any other way which feels a bit weird. Another big thing is wear earplugs from the very first gig, cause your ears will be wrecked otherwise!
You guys are releasing a new album soon, how’s that working out so far?
Max: Yeah it’s fine, it’s basically done, we recorded it ourselves, I’m really happy with it and think it’s the best album that we’ve made.
Will the sound be more like Southern Skies or the older albums?
Max: I don’t know, I think it’s different to everything. I think going into it I wanted to make an album that would be really fun to play live, so I think it’s definitely more of a ‘band’ record. The instrumentation is more like two guitars, drums, bass, not like the first records, a bit more of a step forward in a good direction.
Which bands are you currently listening to?
Jonny: I’m really obsessed with this guy from Philadelphia called Swearin‘. I think they have two albums, their newer one that I’ve been listening to is called Surfing Strange and it just, yeah, I don’t really know how to describe it.
Max: It’s kinda like lo-fi garage rock.
Jonny: Yeah, which is like something I haven’t listened two in years.
Max: I really like this band called Purple and also Colleen Green. Umm.. Oh fuck, yeah, there’s another band called Houndstooth– I don’t really like the name, but they’re from Portland and they make music that sounds like Neil Young.
Mariko: I really like the band Ought, they’re really good.
Max: That’s such a hard name! I always think you can judge the level of your band name by how easy it is to say in a loud bar, like if someone says ‘What’s your band called?’ and you’re like ‘Ought’ and they’re like ‘Whaaat?’. Like that’s impossible to say, even in a silent room, Ought, O-R-T?
Thanks so much to Yuck for talking to us!