Touring behind the release of their second full-length, Odd Blood, tribal psych rockers Yeasayer, joined by chillwave extraordinaire Washed Out, will stop by Bloomington's Bluebird Nightclub Sept. 30. In a recent phone interview, Yeasayer lead vocalist Chris Keating chatted with NUVO about the new album and their compatriots in the independent music scene.
NUVO: Can you talk about the concept behind Odd Blood?
Chris Keating: The concept was a little more low-end, a little more spare. Influenced by some of the pop music that we like. Some electronic stuff. We tried to write some love songs, but in our own way. And we’ve just been flipping and flipping all the genres around that we like and try to do something in each. It just became a challenge for us to make a second record that sounded different but still maintained what we were trying to do with the first record.
NUVO: What kind of pop music inspired this record?
Keating: Some of the more disco jams from the Clash. Even some contemporary producers like the Neptunes and Timbaland and what they do with kinda a hip-hop front. And definitely like Sly and the Family Stone, more classic stuff like that. Stuff like Fleetwood Mac. There are all kinds of things that we grew up listening to and that I listen to now still.
NUVO: How’s your tour been so far?
Keating: I think the reception has been good but it’s people coming out to see us. They bought tickets so they might as well have fun. And the tour’s been good. It’s long, but it seems like we are banging it out and having fun, getting to go to a lot of new places. See some familiar faces in new places. All kinds of good stuff. And play some pretty good shows I think.
NUVO: You've worked with some interesting opening acts — Sleigh Bells, Washed Out. Do you have a say as to who opens or is that up to your booking agent?
Keating: No no. We have complete say over that. We have complete say over everything that goes on. Like for opening bands, we find people that we like. Sometimes we will get suggestions from friends, labels, booking agents, and they’ll turn us on to something we didn’t know about. Then we’ll hook it up. But usually it’s people that we’ve seen play, a record that we have. We have a list of bands that we’d like to play with and then we try to get them on.
NUVO: Who have you played with on this tour?
Keating: Sleigh Bells are great. Javelin, who opened up for us at a couple different things. They’re one of my favorite bands. Dragons of Zynth, that was last tour, are a great band out of Brooklyn that went with us to Europe. There’s this new dude called Delicate Steve who opened up for us in New York, a really young dude. He’s really great, making some really cool records.
NUVO: You mentioned MGMT when you played this year's Lollapalooza. I know you have a history with them.
Keating: Yeah. Those guys are good friends of ours and we did our first nationwide tours together.
NUVO: How do you know them?
Keating: We met at a party in Brooklyn through a mutual friend that we had, at his house. And then, I didn’t know them at the time. We met and started talking about music. And we were working on our record and they were just doing their record and finishing demos. I think they just signed with Columbia, or were about to. They heard the record and really liked it, and we hooked up this tour together. Our first tour, the records weren’t out. Or they just came out on the tour, I forget. And we switched off headlining in these little clubs every night. And it was super fun, going around the country in a van, with them in a van and we were in a van. It was great.
NUVO: And you went to high school with some of the members of Animal Collective.
Keating: They’re from Baltimore. They’re four years older than I am. So they were older guys in high school. Other than that, I’m friendly with Brian [also known as Geologist], one of the guys. They’re all nice guys. I don’t hang out with them that much. I don’t even know if they live in New York anymore or where they live right now. But yeah, they’re good dudes and very creative, and what they do is very inspirational.
NUVO: After this tour, what are your plans?
Keating: We don’t actually have any right now. We have a lot of little shows coming up, some stuff in South America, some stuff in Australia. Probably going to hit up SXSW next year. But in the mean time, we are going to be coming in and out of studio, working on a new record. We’re wanting to drop some material. We want to drop a short EP and then have a full length record hopefully.
NUVO: What dates are you aiming for with the record and the EP?
Keating: I don’t have any idea right now actually.
NUVO: And what direction is the new material taking?
Keating: I’ve got some ideas. I don’t know if I’m willing to commit to them verbally. I mean, I think we want to change it up. A lot of the stuff I’ve been messing around with has been a little more dub and electronic influenced. But then, we also kind of go into a spaced out vibe. I really dig a lot of ambient music, so that kind of thing.