Thinking about all the awful roadside coffee he drank during his time touring America is about as far as Blumberg would like to go into the past year. Although 2011 was a huge year for Yuck, with the unpretentious and engulfing swarm of the band’s fuzz-rock debut turning heads upon release then making its way onto many year-end lists, Blumberg sounds distant and distracted when asked about the past year. For his ability to rest and relax, Blumberg isn’t one to reflect.
“It’s so strange,” he says, speaking slowly. “We came off tour which literally started in January, and that was only a week and a half ago. It’s strange talking about something that we did a year and a half ago. I was 19 when some of those songs were written. We still consider ourselves very fortunate that so many people have gotten into it, sure.”
Throughout our 20 minute conversation, Blumberg uses the word “strange” more than a handful of times to describe the past year. So much so that one would be safe in assuming he’s still reeling from the effects of such heavy touring. Blumberg routinely finds it difficult to speak about the songs on Yuck; it’s as if he’s said all he can about them.
“In a lot of art forms it’s like that. It’s about presenting things to people so that they’re surrounded in the right context. We might have taken the long-winded road in some ways, because especially in Britain, people really latch onto things that can often just be a shortcut to lots of and lots of people. But as a music fan, I’m not really drawn to music like that. Thinking about playing live, we’ve been doing it for so long in such a short period of time that if we were talking at a different time, I’d probably have a different response. I might be talking about a new song that I can’t wait to play live. Or maybe I’d be talking about who we were supporting that night. Sometimes it can be such a distant world.”
Even when asked about the formula for Yuck and its near sublime balance of pop hooks and distortion, Blumberg can only hazard a guess at why things worked out as a well as they did.
“We hadn’t really written songs together before. We didn’t really talk much about what we were going to do. We weren’t necessarily going for consistency. There wasn’t any deadline or anything. We were simply writing songs. But the mood wasn’t always the same whenever we were writing.”
It could be asserted that the band’s age might play a role in how overwhelmed they are. With the majority of the band now just 21, many of the band members were not allowed to enjoy a drink in the very venues they were playing in America. Their age might be something that’s associated with the band, but in his seemingly trademark lackadaisical attitude, Blumberg doesn’t offer much when asked how the band’s age affected their time on the road.
“I think there’s lots of young bands out there. The first tour we did this year was with Smith Westerns. We were all in America and at the time, all of us were 20. And you have to be 21 to drink in America. So we were treated a little differently, showing our IDs and getting these big black stamps on our arms. I don’t know if we’re treated that much differently. We’ve also gone on tours with bands and friends of ours that are much older than us. So when you’re touring, it doesn’t really feel all that different.”
Perhaps Blumberg’s carefree attitude is what will prevent him and Yuck from being swallowed up by the often perilous music business. As the kind of band that benefitted from a ton of blog hype surrounding the release of Yuck, it was easy to imagine the band becoming just another flash in the pan. But Blumberg and Yuck seem content with their place and not keen to read too much into it. Instead, keeping a level head, moving forward and of course, seeking out life’s simple pleasures is what will keep these fuzz rockers in business.
“I think there are so many good albums being made. This year in particular, there’ve been so many albums released that I love so much. I don’t know what we’re meant to feel, but when we finished recording our album, we didn’t really dwell on it. That was what we did, but it was also finished. I don’t know if surprised is the right word, but it’s something. We went on tour with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, who’re one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, and they were supporting us. I don’t know what makes people get excited. It’s cool but I also don’t really know what I supposed to think about it. Maybe if we’d been doing it for years and years and had tons of records and people had been dedicated to coming to the shows, then maybe I’d feel differently then. There’s never been a point where we say to ourselves, “Oh, this is great, what we’re doing.” It’s more just showing up to a new town and going to find the best coffee shop.”
BY JOSHUA KLOKE