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James and the giant bass

Yo La Tengo's James McNew talks "stuff like that there"

James McNew (left) and Yo La Tengo return to San Diego, where they played one of their “all-time favorite shows.”
James McNew (left) and Yo La Tengo return to San Diego, where they played one of their “all-time favorite shows.”

In 1990, Hoboken natives Yo La Tengo released Fakebook — an album composed of cover songs, reworked tunes, and a handful of original compositions. 25 years later, the band is revisiting that template with Stuff Like That There. In strict adherence to the original recipe, they have brought back the original producer (Gene Holder) and former Yo La Tengo member Dave Schramm.

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James McNew, who joined Yo La Tengo on bass about a year after Fakebook came out, bit the bullet and learned how to play upright bass to complement the original album’s instrumentation.

Video:

"Friday I'm in Love"

...from Yo La Tengo's <em>Stuff Like That There</em>, a cover of the Cure's single.

...from Yo La Tengo's Stuff Like That There, a cover of the Cure's single.

“It kind of rearranged my molecular structure as a bass player,” McNew explained to the Reader. “It almost changed my entire physiology in just the way you live your life as an upright bass player as opposed to an electric bass player. It’s all new muscle groups and discovering parts of the spine that you didn’t know were there. It’s completely different, but really enjoyable...except for the part where you have to carry it around.”

Fans can expect to see McNew lugging his new instrument into the Observatory for the band’s concert with Blitzen Trapper on November 12.

One of the covers on the new disc is a stripped-down take of the Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love,” with drummer Georgia Hubley tackling the vocals. The group shot a video for the song, which has piled up 575K views in about three months. The video follows a rather subdued Hubley as she casually sings the song while a barrage of gigantic heart-shaped asteroids take out her neighbors one by one.

Past Event

Yo La Tengo and Blitzen Trapper

“The final product was insane and better than any of us ever dreamed,” McNew explained. “I think we came up with the germ of the idea of Georgia walking around, kind of lost in her own world singing to herself. Then we contacted the director, Jason Woliner, who’s been a friend of ours for a while. We are big fans of his work, and he said, ‘That sounds great, let me call you back on Monday.’ And then on that Monday, he basically had that entire video that you see now written out. Not only that, but he had all the technical stuff worked out already, and he knew exactly how he could get all the shots and effects that he wanted, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t do it. And then we did it in a day. We went out to Los Angeles and did it in a few different parts of town. It was awesome. It was so much fun when we got to see it.”

About eight years prior, and two hours south, Yo La Tengo performed what was apparently one of the band’s favorite sets at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla on November 4, 2007.

“We had a fantastic show — one of those shows of a lifetime. We did a freewheeling Yo La Tengo show where we would play acoustically and talk most of the show. It was one of the all-time favorite shows of ours. It was our first and only visit to La Jolla,” McNew said.

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James McNew (left) and Yo La Tengo return to San Diego, where they played one of their “all-time favorite shows.”
James McNew (left) and Yo La Tengo return to San Diego, where they played one of their “all-time favorite shows.”

In 1990, Hoboken natives Yo La Tengo released Fakebook — an album composed of cover songs, reworked tunes, and a handful of original compositions. 25 years later, the band is revisiting that template with Stuff Like That There. In strict adherence to the original recipe, they have brought back the original producer (Gene Holder) and former Yo La Tengo member Dave Schramm.

Sponsored
Sponsored

James McNew, who joined Yo La Tengo on bass about a year after Fakebook came out, bit the bullet and learned how to play upright bass to complement the original album’s instrumentation.

Video:

"Friday I'm in Love"

...from Yo La Tengo's <em>Stuff Like That There</em>, a cover of the Cure's single.

...from Yo La Tengo's Stuff Like That There, a cover of the Cure's single.

“It kind of rearranged my molecular structure as a bass player,” McNew explained to the Reader. “It almost changed my entire physiology in just the way you live your life as an upright bass player as opposed to an electric bass player. It’s all new muscle groups and discovering parts of the spine that you didn’t know were there. It’s completely different, but really enjoyable...except for the part where you have to carry it around.”

Fans can expect to see McNew lugging his new instrument into the Observatory for the band’s concert with Blitzen Trapper on November 12.

One of the covers on the new disc is a stripped-down take of the Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love,” with drummer Georgia Hubley tackling the vocals. The group shot a video for the song, which has piled up 575K views in about three months. The video follows a rather subdued Hubley as she casually sings the song while a barrage of gigantic heart-shaped asteroids take out her neighbors one by one.

Past Event

Yo La Tengo and Blitzen Trapper

“The final product was insane and better than any of us ever dreamed,” McNew explained. “I think we came up with the germ of the idea of Georgia walking around, kind of lost in her own world singing to herself. Then we contacted the director, Jason Woliner, who’s been a friend of ours for a while. We are big fans of his work, and he said, ‘That sounds great, let me call you back on Monday.’ And then on that Monday, he basically had that entire video that you see now written out. Not only that, but he had all the technical stuff worked out already, and he knew exactly how he could get all the shots and effects that he wanted, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t do it. And then we did it in a day. We went out to Los Angeles and did it in a few different parts of town. It was awesome. It was so much fun when we got to see it.”

About eight years prior, and two hours south, Yo La Tengo performed what was apparently one of the band’s favorite sets at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla on November 4, 2007.

“We had a fantastic show — one of those shows of a lifetime. We did a freewheeling Yo La Tengo show where we would play acoustically and talk most of the show. It was one of the all-time favorite shows of ours. It was our first and only visit to La Jolla,” McNew said.

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