Loud. Straightforward. American.
Denver-based rock and roll outfit The Yawpers use these simple words to describe its music. And yet you’d be hard-pressed to find just one word that embodies the overall sound that the three-piece has been cranking out since the band formed in 2011. The Yawpers is good old fashioned rock at its core, yet the band indecisively calls upon the powers of the blues, punk-rock, rockabilly, and really any other raucous genre of music that comes to mind.
On April 19, The Yawpers releases its fourth full-length album, Human Question. Following the band’s ambitious and critically acclaimed concept album Boy In A Well, the band’s latest release returns to a more personal effort framed by vocalist Nate Cook’s decision to write from an outside perspective on the trauma in his life. The 38-minute wild ride was written and recorded in only six weeks, embodying that sense of urgency the band has perfected with their sound.
The Yawpers will embark on a North American tour in support of the new album, and is scheduled to
perform in Milwaukee on April 18 at The Cooperage with support from fellow Colorado rockers In The Whale and Madison-based Wood Chickens. Milwaukee Record had the opportunity to catch up with vocalist Nate Cook over the phone to talk about the new album.
Milwaukee Record: You have a new album, Human Question, coming out this month. How does it feel to be so close to showing the world a fourth album?
Nate Cook: It’s great man, this is the most exciting time of the record cycle because you don’t really know how people are going to react to it yet and you don’t know how far it’s going to go, so it’s a fun time.
MR: The album was written over a two-month period. Was this a conscious decision or did the album really just flow out of you that quickly?
NC: It was written over six weeks. The reason was that we lost a member and we had to write a whole album from scratch because we had studio time booked. We only had six weeks to write and record a record. There were outside constraints but I think putting limitations on things can make for a better output.
MR: The album was recorded at Chicago’s Electrical Audio. How did you decide on this as opposed to something closer to home?
NC: We had done our previous record in Chicago with Alex Hall—our engineer—and we wanted to use him again but wanted to try a different studio. Electrical Audio is like the gold standard of studios, so it made sense to go there. We love Chicago and it’s good to get out of your comfort zone when you’re recording.
MR: You tracked the album live. Did this present any challenges for the band or did it all come kind of naturally?
NC: We’ve recorded almost all of our records live and it’s just kind of the way we work best, and we try to do things more surgically. I like when there are slight tempo shifts that you can only really achieve when you’re all playing together. There are limitations, but overall, I think it makes for a better product.
MR: I would imagine that would make it easy to translate these songs to your live performances.
NC: It certainly does, and that’s definitely another major influence for doing things that way. I hate seeing bands who can’t pull of their record live, so we’ve always made an effort to make what we do on an album something we can achieve in front of an audience.
MR: I read that you tried writing about ways out of your depression rather than wallowing in it. What inspired you to change your writing approach?
NC: I think that it’s important to kind of always be trying new things and adapting rather than trying to repeat a similar formula. So every record, I try to do something different. This one, I wanted to change the perspective. Instead of looking inward, I was looking at myself from an outside point of view. I think that it at least provided a challenge which affects the music and makes for a different tenure—which I think is important from album to album.
MR: Is there a song on the album that embodies this approach more than the others?
NC: Maybe “Earn Your Heaven” most describes that approach. That and “Dancing On My Knees.” Both songs are really kind of repeating mantras of self-improvement to that effect and I think those two embody that spirit the most.
MR: You contribute so many different inspirations to your sound–punk, folk, psych rock to name a few—and it shows in the way that your songs often shift in tone. When writing this album and your previous albums, how do you manage to keep an album’s songs similar or do you not really pay attention to that sort of thing?
NC: I think the fact that we do have so many dynamic shifts and there are so many turns and unexpected moments is consistent it gives it cohesiveness in a kind of contradictory way.
MR: “Carry Me” is the longest song on the album and also struck me as particularly powerful. What was the writing process for that song like?
NC: That one was probably the song that least embodies the kind of “not wallowing in trauma” aspect, but that one I was writing about the separation of my wife and I, and it’s the most plaintive song I’ve ever written. It’s not metaphorical or allegorical. It’s not too euphemistic. It’s just kind of straightforward in describing a situation. I wanted it to be as direct as I possibly could, and a lot of times when I write, I hide behind metaphors because if you write too plainly, you get too vulnerable. I wanted to set myself the challenge of being as straightforward and, by proxy, as vulnerable as I could.
MR: You’ll be on tour with In The Whale. How did you decide on them as a tour partners?
NC: Nate [from In The Whale] is my roommate, so we decided to hit the road together. They’re a fucking great band.
MR: Do you have anything else you’d like to add about your upcoming tour date in Milwaukee at The Cooperage?
NC: We’re just stoked to get back to Milwaukee. We always have a fucking blast when we come.