Behold Shoegaze Stars Yuck: "We're a Band in Transition"
Since their 2011 debut, London-based shoegazers Yuck have earned an esteemed spot among the in-the-know indie circuit. With an impressive self-titled debut under their belts, their momentum has been growing.
You'd think last year's departure of Yuck's front man and chief songwriter, Daniel Blumberg, would have hindered the band; however, his departure doesn't seem to have halted Yuck's progress in the slightest.
After Blumberg left to pursue new project Hebronix, guitarist Max Bloom picked up the slack, stepping up to the abruptly vacant spot of band leader. Late last year, Yuck released their sophomore album, Glow & Behold, as a trio.
For Bloom, the shift to front man has been relatively smooth. Besides, he's already used to such front man duties as giving interviews.
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"I've always done most of the band's interviews, actually," he says during a recent phone call. "Daniel was never good with interviews, or the general talking thing."
Bloom chuckles, but he speaks truthfully and not vindictively of his former band mate.
"This transition was something I had time to prepare for," he explains. "But it's been difficult in the sense that I recorded Glow without ever having been a vocalist."
Vocally, Bloom cut his teeth during a stint of live shows. "The experience I gained from learning vocals in five quick gigs was insanely valuable," he reflects. "Way more valuable than any singing lesson."
Last year, Yuck supported rock vets The Pixies on tour, shows that were among Bloom's first as lead singer.
"I'm still learning to use my voice, but it's quickly become really fun," he admits. "The key thing I've learned is not to care when you're up on stage and everyone is looking at you -- to just enjoy the attention."
Yuck wasn't only sans their former front man as they prepped to record Glow; they also shifted their recording approach. Their debut album was recorded modestly, at Bloom's parents' house, and mixed on Garage Band; Glow, on the other hand, was recorded in a church-set studio in New York, by known producer Chris Coady (Beach House, Foals).
"When you're recording at home, you have certain limitations," Bloom recalls. "Like neighbors shouting at us to keep the noise down!"
"What I wanted to achieve on Glow was beyond what could be achieved recording at my parents' house."
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Ideally, Bloom would like to bridge those two gaps, and eventually build a professional home studio, "like [Wilco's Chicago studio] The Loft," he muses. "That's the holy grail of band recording!"
Bloom considers Glow a personal "creative burst of energy"; still, he admits feeling Blumberg's absence during the album's conception.
"In the past, I could be relatively lazy," he admits. "I could get away with writing a piece of music that didn't necessarily make sense, and just pass it off to Daniel. He would deal with it, write the lyrics, and make it a song. This time," he compares, "there was way more responsibility."
The departure of Blumberg served as an impetus for change for Yuck, on many levels. "We're a band in transition," Bloom acknowledges. "I think Daniel leaving has forced us to explore new ways of doing things. On a practical level," he continues, "We'd rather have the responsibilities shared throughout the band, as we do now."
Furthermore, Yuck has recruited a new member: guitarist Ed Hayes joins them on their current tour, which kicked off last month.
"Ed joined Yuck with the intention of just playing with us live," Bloom says. "But we've written songs together, and we take band photos together...it feels like he's in the band.
"Ed has changed the band," he concludes, "and for the better."
Besides looking forward to warmer climates -- "Texas is a highlight of our tours," Bloom says -- his tour wishes are simple.
"I'm just looking forward to looking out the window of the van, honestly," he laughs. "I listen to music, read books, watch TV series."
He's particularly fond of Seinfeld and The Wire.
"Touring North America is interesting," Bloom adds, "because each state has its own culture. For someone who's grown up in the UK, it's always a sense of adventure."
But what he's most looking forward to might surprise you.
"Dunkin' Donuts, Waffle House, Denny's..." Bloom lists excitedly, his British accent especially thick.
"I'm really looking forward to all the horrible shit food America has that the UK doesn't. America has really good diners too," he exclaims. "The whole diner 'culture' is quite interesting to me, as we don't have those in the UK."
The fast-food fiends play Rudyard's this Thursday. If you're looking to make a real impression on the band, come equipped with a list of recommended local diners. Yuck will personally thank you.
Yuck plays Rudyard's Thursday, February 6 with Golden Cities and Empty Shells; doors open at 9 p.m. Note to the band: Rudz's burgers are delicious.
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