It’s dinnertime in LA when I catch Daniel Blumberg, frontman of burgeoning UK shoegaze-revivalists Yuck, in the midst of ordering a taco banquet. It’s breakfast time in Melbourne and I’m barely awake after overindulging on tacos (and shiraz) the night before. Sometimes life’s poetic like that. Anyway, Yuck are in LA to kick off a USA-wide co-headlining tour with our very own Tame Impala. Though the two acts take their cues from disparate eras of music, they both share a strong affection for loud, fuzzed-out guitars. Now, with the release of their self-titled and critically-lauded debut, Australian audiences can finally sample the blown-out goodness of Yuck.
"I guess it was about the end of 2009 - maybe a year, year-and-a-half ago now. I was working in a book shop," Daniel recalls on the band's origin. "Max (guitars) and I were writing separately then. We've been friends since we were like six or something, but I heard a song that he did and said, 'Actually, we should be writing together.' So then we started writing together every day. We wrote all these songs, then recorded, then wrote loads and loads and loads. Then I remembered about this guy I met in the desert, Jonny (drums). He moved to New Jersey and we just sent him all the songs. So we all got together and started the band," he states.
Being praised by many a blog and by the likes of NME, the band's profile has very much exploded throughout the music world. It's a factor that has yet to sink in fully, thanks in part to a relentless touring schedule. "I guess we've been on tour since January, and we spent all last year recording and being productive in London.
"Like, the reception the album has received is something I only hear about through interviews, and only occasionally I get told about how it's going and if there's specific things I need to sort out… And if there are extra things I need to be doing, like if I need to design an advert and see the press quotes, I'm like, 'Cool!'" he chuckles. "I guess it's quite irrelevant to what we're doing, because we just did an album and it's not like we can go back and change anything. We've just started, so it's nice to get more people coming to your shows. But it doesn't really come into my mind, like 'Oh, the band's big now!' I don't really know what that means.
"But it sounds cool," he grins.
With such a distinct throwback to the early-'90s era of alternative rock, Yuck have a tendency to attract claims of being derivative. The comparisons to the likes of Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth are littered throughout pretty much any shred of discourse relating to Yuck. "Yeah it's [the direct influence] is probably there," Daniel ponders. "I mean Dinosaur Jr.'s album You're Living All Over Me we got into loads, and listened to a lot. But that's only one album that I think is really amazing. There are a few Dinosaur Jr. albums that I really like. But you know, we listen to music - we're never listening to just one thing," he points out. "People always draw their own views on tracing the influences and intellectualising it all - well, I guess it's not really intellectualising," he laughs. "I mean, we don't really discuss these things and say, 'Oh this track is influenced by this.' It's interesting to hear what people say, especially if you're compared to a record you really like."
Despite their relative youth, the members of Yuck seem ripe enough to handle pretty much every aspect of putting out an album - with the debut LP being a self-produced affair. "Yeah we recorded it all in Max's bedroom. Apart from the drums, we did them in a little studio nearby. We were recording straight away when we started, so we knew what it would sound like." The self-production ethos is not limited to the aural aspects, with Daniel creating the illustration which adorns the cover - to which I raised a comparison to the work of Ralph Steadman. "Yeah someone in another interview said that too. But I don't really see it," he trails off while the background noise suggests the taco delivery has just arrived.
YUCK’s self-titled debut is out now through Universal.