London based band YUCK came onto the scene in 2011 with their self-titled debut album. A deliciously retro mix of nineties style indie rock, they paid ode to PAVEMENT and DINOSAUR JR while adding something all their own. With fuzzed out guitars, pained vocals and a noise pop sensibility, they have just released the follow up, Glow and Behold (via Fat Possum records). In April of this year frontman Daniel Blumberg left, announced via the YUCK Facebook page, and fans wondered if the band would survive. They clearly have, and the trio is announced their new guitarist Ed Hayes this September via a series of shows at the Macbeth pub in London. Max Bloom has taken over lead singing capabilities, with Mariko Doi on bass and Johnny Rogoff on drums. NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION sat down with jovial and obviously good mates Ed and Max to talk about band uniforms, genres, and how now they have double the amount of afros in the band.
So I know you guys are based in London but really where is everyone from?
Max: I’m from London, Ed’s from London, Johnny is from New Jersey and Mariko is from Hiroshima, Japan.
The name. Was choosing “YUCK” a good or bad decision?
Max: I think it was good. From my experience people either love it or hate it. A name’s a name really, it doesn’t mean anything to me, to be honest.
Ed: Every other thing you see on the street is a good band name, really.
Why did Daniel leave?
Max: He left because he wanted to focus on his solo stuff.
Was it amicable or a surprise to you guys?
Max: It wasn’t a surprise, but it was [pauses] a long time coming. I definitely expected things were moving that way a long time before we officially said it. I feel like everyone is a lot happier that things have worked out this way. Daniel wanted to focus on his solo stuff, and everything worked out for the best, because everyone is doing what they want to be doing.
For you to step up to be the frontman, was that weird?
Max: I sang a little bit on the first album but for the most part this is a completely new experience. I feel like it was weird at the beginning not having the person there that I’m sort of used to having around me, someone being there to share the responsibility. It was weird at the start but now it doesn’t really feel like anything’s changed, everything’s normal. It doesn’t feel like I’ve had to “step up,” it’s just sort of what I have to do.
So you are the new guitarist that was bartender at the pub?
[Ed starts laughing]
Wait is that bad intel?
Ed: No, it’s just funny that that is intel.
So tell me the story.
Ed: Well I’ve known these guys for awhile. I played in a band that had a couple of tours with YUCK, a band called FANZINE that is now broken up. With Daniel leaving, space freed up in the band for an extra guitarist, Max approached me and I was really keen to join in.
Why was it important to find a new guitarist?
Max: The aim was not to “replace” Daniel. It was like, this was sort of how the band has progressed. Getting Ed was not an effort to replace Daniel in anyway.
Sorry, this is like talking about the ex-wife in front of the new wife. [everyone laughs]
Ed: I’m a guitarist onto my own!
You’re not just a trophy wife. But I mean, was it “we always want to be a four piece?”
Max: I mean, the songs were written for four members. Ed’s role is not the same as Daniel, he’s his own role, his own genre. [they both chuckle]
If you had to put yourselves in a genre, what genre would that be? I know musicians hate this question, but it helps, with the tag.
Max: Say, like, my neighbor asks “What type of music do you play?” I just don’t know what to say. I guess like … rock? Rock – pop? [laughter] Indie grungey rock pop? I have no idea what to call it. It’s difficult, because people who aren’t in the band assign a genre, so that it’s easier to pigeonhole that band with other bands and it’s easier to understand. I mean I do it, but I can’t really do it to myself. I got asked in an interview: “What attracts you to play the music that you play?” And I felt really stupid, I didn’t know how to answer that question. I don’t think about why I play the music I play, it just appeals to me. I don’t think about the genre, I just sort of do it.
It’s kind of like trying to explain your favorite flavor or your favorite color.
Max: Yeah, I don’t know why I like purple… [laughs]
I thought you guys would be into gray [they are both wearing matching heather gray t-shirts]
Ed: Yeah, that’s conditional entry to the band: must wear gray shirt.
YUCK: “…it’s been a fairly joyful experience. It felt like a huge accomplishment, overcame a lot, and came out the other side better for the experience.”
Besides Daniel leaving, what have been some big obstacles for the band? How about important moments?
Max: I feel like we’ve overcome a lot. I can’t think of any major obstacles, it’s been a fairly joyful experience. It felt like a huge accomplishment, overcame a lot, and came out the other side better for the experience. Recording the album is the main thing we’ve been through, and rehearsing and getting the live show ready. We are about to play our first live shows in a couple of weeks.
For people that are coming to your live shows, what can they expect?
Ed: More afros. [he has an afro, as does drummer Johnny]
Max: Yeah, more afros.
Double the amount of afro?
Ed: We’ve increased our afro percentage 100%?
Is there going to be competition, an “afro off?”
Ed: Oh, Johnny would win that, his will be gazzumping mine.
Max: As far as what the live shows will be like, we’ve been rehearsing for awhile and it’s definitely sounding the best it’s ever sounded. I want to be impressive and play a great live show, and from the first day it’s been sounding really great, especially the old songs. I think a lot of that is due to Ed being an awesome guitarist.
Max: It’s just to be some new songs, some oldies, a cover maybe. It’s going to be really good.
Eloquently summarized. So, you know the name of our magazine. Tell me, what do hope and passion mean to you?
Ed: I am the master of hope and passion. I hope… [laughs] things go well and I hope we get a passionate reaction from the crowd.
Max: That’s pretty good. I don’t think I can’t top that.