Float Fest 2016 Yeasayer Interview

By Natalia Glenn
Float Fest Press Team

Yeasayer happens to be one of Brooklyn’s many underrated experimental rock bands. Gaining tons of momentum back in 2007, Yeasayer was not too far away from us due to their participation in SXSW that year. Their debut album, All Hour Cymbals, along with a psychedelic live show that got tons of buzz, really put the Yeasayer’s craft into a lot of peoples’ ears and faces. Fast forward even more distinguishing projects later, Yearsayer is still a fly and down-to-earth group of guys that are not concerned about making music that’s en vogue, but real and connectable art. I was fortunate enough to talk two of the three about the evolution of performing music and art in our world. Ira Wolf Tuton and Anand Wilder were nothing but fun. Check it out:

How has the Float Fest experience been so far?

Wilder: This is probably the hottest festival.

Tuton: Yeah it’s definitely, like, the hottest… The sun is like really intense.

W: It’s just moving from shady spot to shady spot.

T: (sarcastically) So yeah, it’s going great.

Are you guys excited to somebody?

W: Did Bone Thugs already play?

T: I was going to say hi to Santi because we grew up in Philadelphia together and 10 years of touring we’ve never played a show on the same day… So I’d like to say hi to her.

Yeasayer performs at Float Fest. Photo by Natalia Glenn.
Yeasayer performs at Float Fest. Photo by Natalia Glenn.

Cool… I know you guys are known for the experiential concert setting and dramaticism, are there any elements the set is going to have that we’re not expecting?

T: Well, we’re playing during the day… But we’re bringing energy! I always love playing in Austin because the crowd is so receptive and they get it… Sometimes when you give it your all and the crowd doesn’t give it back it’s tough getting through an hour set when you don’t get that back. I always love the audiences in Austin particularly because we’ve always had a good time here.

Yeah, I think we have a lot of energy here for it being so hot…

T: Yeah, we have a lot of skin here.

W: Yeah a lot of people passing out and fainting.

Now on to the tunes:  What’s the difference between taking your earlier album, Fragrant World, on tour as opposed to Amen & Goodbye?

W: Well, I’m playing a lot more guitar. The last album was a little more sample-based and electronic, not that we didn’t sample on this one, but we weren’t afraid to use acoustic guitar and electric guitar.

T: It’s more of a played record and I think that also transitions into the live show as well. There’s a lot of complexity in its arrangement that lends itself to making mistakes more. I find it more enjoyable.

W: When you do less instrument playing, you have to make up for it with lighting… We’re just trying to sell our beautiful faces and our nice dance moves…

T: We’re bringing a custom light show when we come back to Austin… But I agree I feel like there’s been a lighting arms race that we’ve been involved in for a while and we’ve kinda stepped out of that. I’ve gone to a bunch of shows, just by the nature of doing this for a living, and I’m kinda at the point where enough is enough already. I guess for me since I’ve seen it so many times already, and I like mystery and theater… but it’s so pervasive and everybody’s doing bigger, better LED’s and lasers. When Daft Punk did it, nobody had ever seen it before… It kind of just blew everybody’s mind. Now, ten years on, there’s no mystery to me anymore, all I see is a big rental fee.

W: It’s because you’re not high enough, man.

T: Right, I’m on the wrong drugs… aahh.

W: You’re thinking about rental fees?!

T: I know, I’m such a corporate beast!

W: You’re like ‘what is the overhead on this?’

T: I used to be like so cool, man…

W: You mean you’re not like ‘woah this song is totally a blue – sounding song.’

Well I feel like you guys have opportunity to make your set super dramatic because of that new music video…

W: Yeah that was pretty awesome that we got to work with Mike Anderson on that…

T: He took a lot of assets from the album artwork… That was kind of the genesis of what came afterwards. David Altmejd did all the sculptures and that was an incredible experience working with them.. Super fortunate for us, he was willing to do that. Light shows in the past and videos, we’ve always been super lucky with the people we’ve worked with outside of the band… Visual artists, whether they were making videos or the album artwork, or whatever… And it’s kind of fun farming that out to people we enjoy and respect

So what’s next for you guys?

W: We’re gonna do Lollapalooza in Chicago.

T: In less than a week… Long week…

W: And then we actually got a bit of time off. Because we were just on tour for like two months straight. So we had a big US tour and then a big Europe tour.

Right, you guys just got back here…

W: A couple weeks ago.. We got back just in time to celebrate our country’s independence from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland in 1776…

T: Just when Great Britain was celebrating their independence from the rest of the world.

W: And then we came here… We were actually in Lake Tahoe last night.

T: Yeah, we played a show there.

W: It’s been a busy weekend for us.

T: But I think we’re planning on a Fall/Winter run, and I think sometime in November we’ll be in Austin… Because we missed Austin on our American run. So we’re coming back in November and hitting some other towns around here.

W: We might have a new music video coming out.

Are you going to be working with the same people?

W: We don’t know actually. This is something we just heard like last week.

T: Yeah, videos… It’s really cool to just send your darlings away and see how somebody can re-contextualize or see how it can trigger another part of the imagination in a different direction

W: So parts of the song that you’re like ‘oh that part is kinda boring’ it’s like ‘oh when you’ve got some visual’…

T: Yeah, when you have cats chopping up onions! I love that part!

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