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Chicago band YAWN portrait

Q&A with YAWN

written by: on August 29, 2011

Yawn - Open Season album coverRecently, Pop ‘stache chatted with Adam Gil and Daniel Perzan of Chicago-based band YAWN.  The band’s debut release, Open Seasons, drops this Tuesday, August 30, with a release party at Schubas. Stop by if you’re in town, but in the meantime gain an idea of what you’re in for here:

Pop ‘stache: I’ve been reading a lot of articles about YAWN online. The trend seems to be  Animal Collective and Yeasayer comparisons. Do you agree with the comparisons?

Adam: Yeah, Yeasayer and Animal Collective are definitely inspirations. They have the same mentality as we do; staying true to the melody in the song, but using samplers and synths.

P’s: What are your inspirations? Other bands? Chicago?

A: I think we’re inspired by the harsh change of seasons in Chicago. You know you really get the most out of winter, summer and everything in between. It really affects your day to day life.

P’s:  Is it hard to put together a cohesive album when your inspirations are changing throughout the year or throughout the recording process?

A: No, I think that’s what keeps it fresh. It’s really cool. We’re writing songs right now that are just for summer, and once winter comes along it’s an amazing opportunity to change without really thinking about it.

Daniel: Yeah, and I don’t think we’re worried too much about cohesion. I think we just leave it to our voices to keep it together. We embrace every variation in an album, kind of like having a mixtape mentality.

P’s: I want to get into the album. You’ll be releasing Open Season on August 30th. Are you relieved and excited that it’s almost out for the public to enjoy?

A: Oh yeah, absolutely. We had this album complete at the end of March, with everything already mastered. I guess we had to go through that whole press and label limbo to get solid ground and go for the release.

D: Yeah, it was a long time coming.

A: And it’s finally about to be released so we’re definitely excited for it.

P’s: I’ve been listening to the album a lot. What are your favorite songs on the record?

A: I think we’re happiest with how “Sing Low” turned out, or maybe “Acid.” Do you have the song “Take It With Me” on your copy?

P’s: Yeah.

A: OK, because that’s not going to be on any version of the album that we can sell. It’s not going to be on the physical CDs or LPs, and that’s because Phil Spector is a huge douchebag.

D: Yeah.

A: It’s because we sampled part of a Ronettes and a Frankie Avalon song, and we couldn’t get the clearance, but we were really happy with that one too. It’s a huge summer jam.

P’s: Do you have any plans to release it as a bonus track? I mean, do you have the ability to?

A: After a little time goes by, we’re thinking about completing an EP to distribute for free online. We’ll include “Take It With Me” on it.

P’s: I wanted to ask you about the artwork on the album. Who’s the artist who created it?

A: Her name is Mary Lou Zelazny. She’s a really good friend of our singer/bassist Sam’s mom. She’s a Chicago artists and a professor at the [The School of the] Art Institute [of Chicago].

P’s: Did you work really close with her on it?

A: No, we saw a book of her paintings, specifically that one, and thought it could really work for the album.

D: Also, the way she does it using oil and collage resembles how we make music; mixing samples with organic [material].

YAWN riding bikes in the street

P’s: I’m going to jump around a little bit here. I want to talk about your live performance and, of course, the album release show this upcoming Tuesday. What can people expect when they go to see a YAWN show?

A: (Laughs) umm … uhh, good times. At the last show we played at Beauty Bar, because most of our songs are upbeat and have dance rhythms, the crowd was pretty much dancing the entire night. We don’t have any spectacular visuals, or like beach balls floating around.

P’s: No Flaming Lips space bubble that you walk out in?

A: No, not yet, man. Not yet. (Laughs)

P’s: I saw an update on your Facebook page. You somehow got involved with a project and there is going to be a camera crew at the show. It specifically says, “This is going towards a very cool project we just got picked up for that we really can’t talk too much about!!” What can you tell us about, if anything?

A: We’re doing this thing for Converse. They have this free studio out in Brooklyn called Rubber Tracks. They’re picking a band to come there and record one song for them and are going to film the record release and us on our way [to their stuido] and us working in their studio.

P’s: Wow, that’s awesome.

A: Yeah, it’s going to be weird having them in the van the whole time, expecting us to do a bunch of funny shit when we’re probably really boring. At the end of it they’re going to master the track and release it along with a 10 minute documentary.

P’s: How did you get involved with this?

A: I don’t know, dude. I guess they were definitely looking for a band that wasn’t established that they could help expose more.

P’s: Spinner.com, among many other websites, just featured your single “Acid.” Specifically on Spinner, they have a quote of yours, Adam, about the way “Acid” came about. It sounds pretty intense. I was wondering if you could talk about that experience a little bit.

D: Well Adam just walked away, but uh, Adam and I skipped work that day and got “inebriated,” to put it lightly. Yeah, we hung out all day in our basement with our keyboards and samplers splayed out all over the place. We hit record on the computer and went to town, losing our minds and playing this crap. Out of it, it started pretty small and snowballed more and more into a song. By the time we left hours later we had what you hear now in the song “Acid,” rightfully named (laughs).

P’s: One more thing about the quote, in it Adam mentions the “Biblical Basement.” Is that what you call the basement you recorded in?

D: Yeah, it was an awesome basement. It was full of shit when we first moved in so we cleared it out and found that half the walls, if not more, had biblical murals all over them. It was dated 1960 something. The way we had it lit and set up was kind of a creepy environment to be in, but it was also really cool to create in that environment, while looking at those painting and all the junk.

P’s: You  just released the video for “Acid” on Rollingstone.com, right?

D: Yeah.

P’s: I was curious how you felt about them calling the video a screensaver.

D: I thought it was kind of a backhanded compliment. They were talking about the transitional part that looks like the crazy layered tie-died eye. But, we were talking about it last night with the video director and just kind of laughing about it. I mean, it’s Rolling Stone and they probably just looked through it and were like, “Oh that’s cool. Screensaver.” It’s cool either way to see up on Rolling Stone with their little logo in the corner.

If you haven’t heard YAWN’s single “Acid,” you can grab a free download here