In 2007, the pop-music writers at MTV thought Yeasayer was a great band. They couldn’t say enough good things about them, and they thought that the band had gotten lost and went unnoticed amidst all of the indie hoopla at that year’s South by Southwest, Yeasayer’s first national showcase. Fast forward three years, and Yeasayer was the most-blogged-about band in 2010, according to the Hype Machine, a music-blog aggregator. What happened?
“I don’t know,” singer/guitarist Anand Wilder laughs. “I’m still incredulous about the whole ‘most blogged-about band.’ It seems inconceivable that we could have been blogged about more than Kanye or Jay-Z or Lady Gaga or any number of huge pop acts.” Yeasayer’s crafty mix of Middle Eastern psych-pop-gospel aside (“really, who aren’t our influences?”), Wilder thinks a lot of their popularity was spurred by their music videos. “That was really key for us, in reaching new groups of people who weren’t into reading Pitchfork or Stereogum or whatever.”
Yeasayer songs build on a foundation of instrumentation and then blend in prerecorded samples. “One of our vices is layering on as much crap as possible.” Next, they add pop hooks, solid vocals, and tight harmonies. Wilder says the plan was always to make weird music that a listener could sing along to. “There’s a lot of experimental bands out there that don’t really have good songs,” he says, “and there’s a lot of bands that sing pitch-perfect harmonies that aren’t that interesting. We try to have the best of both worlds.”
With two very different CDs behind them, what can a listener expect from Yeasayer moving forward? “We’re trying to figure that out,” says Wilder. “We’ve just gotten back to recording and working on new songs. But you never really know what the full direction of the album is until you’ve got about four or five songs done, you know?”
Smith Westerns and Hush Hush also perform.
Yeasayer: Belly Up Tavern, Saturday, May 21, 9 p.m. 858-481-8140. Sold out.