See also: The Young @ Yucca Tap Room
The Young (Texas foursome guitarist/vocalist Hans Zimmerman, bassist John Costanzo, guitarist Kyle Edwards, and drummer Ryan Maloney) sneaked into underground pop consciousness with their stunning 2010 release, Voyagers of Legend (Mexican Summer), a breathless burst psychedelia that referenced The Replacements as much as the 13th Floor Elevators.
The band's new record finds them at home on one of indie rock's most respected labels, Matador, with a loose, cranked up slice of distorted Americana, Dub Egg.
Zimmerman had just crossed the state line into Montana and pulled off for bathroom break when we phoned. "We played Fargo last night," he said, and when we questions how it went he was upbeat. "It was actually really fun. I mean, who knows what you're going to get playing Fargo on a Monday, but it was a good time."
The band's record sounds like a good time, with its ambling passages (the country-tinged "Only Way Out") and barn-stormers ("Livin' Free" and "Don't Hustle For Love") evoking the power of Crazy Horse. Zimmerman's voice occasionally feels like a rustic Billy Corgan, and the band's swirling guitars and stomping drums balance a certain amount of alt-rock heft with deep Texan blues and altered-mind rock.
Up on the Sun: I really liked Voyagers of Legend, but Dub Egg feels more opened up. More expansive. What influenced that shift? Hans Zimmerman: I mean, recording in the wilderness had a lot to do with it. The songs weren't completely written, we just had kind of outlines and some lyrics and a few changes here and there. Being out there really let us focus on arranging and finishing stuff up. But also, we've been playing together longer, and we've gotten tighter at playing with each other. It helped a lot.
Were you guys improvising with these songs, as you fleshed them out? I would say there's less improvisation than Voyagers of Legend. Those were like, open-ended jams that got worked into completed songs in the overdub process. We would just set up somewhere and start playing a riff, and just go. That's why a lot of those songs just sort of fade in and fade out. I took a passage of the jam-thing that was the most useable and crafted a song out of it.
I don't know that I'd use the term laid back to describe the new record, but it feels like there was a lot of looseness; it feels like a very natural record. Yeah, thank you. To tell you the truth, [the openness] of the record has a lot to do with the environment we made it in. It was kind of isolated, just us hanging out. We were feeling pretty loose, and just getting comfortable with the music.
When you're making a record that way, how structured were things? Did you have to focus in sometimes and say, "Okay, now we've got to get something done," or was it all just mellow, "We'll do it when we do it?" It was a little of both. Obviously we were there to work and get stuff done, but if things were moving along and something felt funky we were like, "Okay, one more, and if it doesn't work we'll go outside and throw horseshoes." There was little creek nearby, so we'd go fishing, things like that, you know?
That's the kind of freedom it's hard to get when you're in a commercial studio, just staring at the clock. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. We wanted to keep it in our hands and see what happened with it.
This is your first record for Matador. How did they go about signing you guys? Gerard Cosloy is one of the heads of the label, co-founder, whatever, and he lives in Austin. So he'd seen us kinda come up, play good shows, bad shows, things like that. In 2009 Matador put together that Casual Victim Pile compilation, which is an Austin-specific comp that we were featured on. After that, the Mexican Summer thing happened, and I think they dug that record. We had a little tour up to New York and back in late twenty-ten, and he told the Matador folks to go to that show [in NYC] and check us out. While we were still on the road they emailed us and said, "You guys wanna make a record?"
Had you already started thinking about what you wanted to do with Dub Egg? We got signed and were able to have recording advance money that we used buy tape machines and rent that cabin. While we would have made another record without Matador, it certainly wouldn't have been what we made with them. To be able to say "All this money that you're giving us? I'm going to buy all this stuff and then we're just going to a cabin." They were like, "Alright, cool, bye. Tell us when you're done." That was awesome. [Matador is very much like] "What do you need, how do you need it, and here you go." Just kind of giving you room to grow and figure out what you want to do.
I can't help put wonder how many labels treat their bands like that anymore. I was like, are you sure you want to do this? Not a lot of people know about us, we're just sort of doing our own thing. But they said, "We're not into placating to hype or signing what's talked about now." They are very much interested in bringing talent to their table that is in line with their taste, and what they dig.
The Young is scheduled to perform Thursday, July 19, at Meat Market Garment Factory in Tempe.