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[Interview] Yuck at Pitchfork Music Fest 2011

By Kim Bellware in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 20, 2011 8:40PM

Yuck bassist Max Bloom gets nervous once his bandmates disappear and he's left all alone with Chicagoist. (Chicagoist/Kim Bellware)
The England-based foursome Yuck kicked things off with the second set of Day 3 at the 2011 Pitchfork Music Festival and turned in a solid performance despite a fritzy guitar and intense heat. Singer and guitarist Daniel Blumberg had escaped to catch some of Superchunk's set, while bassist Mariko Doi was recovering from some post-performance sun poisoning, so we caught up with bassist Max Bloom and drummer Jonny Rogoff. The charming and relentlessly funny duo spent time talking to Chicagoist about their Pitchfork experience, Chicago hot dogs and women's soccer.

Note to Bloom: Chicagoist wants a trademark on the band name "Cajun Beach Party."

Chicagoist: How did you guys feel about the performance this afternoon?

Max Bloom: We had a really fun time. My guitar broke, but you have to get past these things.

C: What happened onstage?

MB: Basically--I won’t go into the geeky details, but it’s a new guitar and--

Jonny Rogoff: The guitar fought back.

MB: Exactly. It was like a switch got caught halfway and it cut out. I wasn’t anticipating it. It caught me off guard.

C: Can you talk a little bit about what your year has been like? You formed last year, cut an album and are now here at Pitchfork.

JR: It’s been like a year and three-quarters to be exact. November of 2009. It’s been a long time.

MB: We recorded the album last year, this time last year and then released it in February. Then we started the tour and came to America for the first time, and now we’re doing our first headline tour.

C: You guys are touring with the Smith Westerns for a little bit, right?

MB: Right. That was our first time--when we first came to America we supported them.

C: Do you know that they’re from around here? They’re local to us. And you’re all about the same age?

MB: Yeah, about the same age. They might be a little bit younger but we won’t hold that against them.

C: Did they tell you anything about Chicago or try to prime you for coming here and performing since this is their home turf?

JR: Laughs

C: JR’s shaking his head...

MB: When they were in London, Cullen [Omon] said he would give me a ride around town and his mom would cook me dinner...but that still hasn’t happened.

C: Max, you’re originally from England, and Jonny you’re from New Jersey. How did you all come together? Since you’re from opposite sides of the pond and Mariko is from Japan, how did Yuck come together?

MB: Before I go into that, can I ask you a question? Have you ever been to Hot Doug’s? In Chicago.

C: Yes! You need to go. They have fries made in duck fat.

MB: I haven't tried that.

JR: They have fries made in duck fat?

C: Chicago is like, the premier food destination of the United States.

JR: Deep dish pizza! Hot Dougs! A bunch of other places I don’t know! I had five hot dogs at Hot Doug’s.

C: I’m glad you were able to get some of that.

MB: It’s very interesting that place.

C: What did you order?

MB: I wasn’t that adventurous; you know hot dogs aren’t very big in England. The relish was sweet. I think I just had a normal one with brie and stuff. It was nice. But not the cheese on it.

C: But it was good?

MB: It made me feel a little bit sick if I’m being honest, but that’s because it wasn’t cheese.

JR: Yellow goo. Cheez wiz!

MB: But skipping forward, how did we meet?

C: Yeah, how did you all come together? I heard there was a desert meeting but that’s all I know.

MB: Well, there was a desert meeting, you’re right about that. Jonny was spending some time in Israel on a kibbutz--like a community where you work--and Daniel [Blum] had some friends he was visiting. Then they met each other and we invited him to come to England.

C: Here comes the rest of the crew!

[Bassist Mariko Doi joins the circle]

JR: Hey! Mariko up!

C: Hi Mariko. We’re just talking about how you all met. When did you come into this after they met in Israel? Or how did you meet up with these--

JR: Losers.

MB: Losers.

C: I was going to say “characters”

JR: We both said “losers” at the same time! [high fives Max]. Youtube.

MD: Youtube. I don’t know, I was looking for a band to join and Max and Daniel were looking for bass players also.

C: Did they really find you on Youtube?

MD: Yeah. I was living in London at the time.

C: I think you might be the most international band in the festival this year.

JR: Woo hoo!

C: Who did you root for in the Women’s World Cup? Because USA played Japan.


MD: Japan! Japan! Japan!

C: Do you know who won?

JR: USA, duh.

MD: Japan!

C: I don’t want to spoil it for you.

MD: I want to know, tell me.

JR: USA obviously won.

C: USA had the first goal, Japan came back in the 80th minute, and tied it up. It went into extra time. At the end of stoppage time, they went into two extended periods. USA scored. Japan came back, it went into penalty kicks. USA blew the first three penalty kicks--it went to Japan!

MD: Yay!

JR: No!

C: Women’s World Cup winners, 2011.

MB: Losers, ha ha [points to Jonny].

JR: I’m a bit shaken up by the news you just told me.

C: Apart from this epic soccer match that I hope you guys get to see, who else are you excited about in the festival? Have you been able to see many of the other bands?

MB: I want to see Superchunk. Right now.

C: Isn’t there a big Animal Collective fan among you?

JR: When I met Daniel I was wearing an Animal Collective t-shirt.

C: Did you catch them Friday night?

JR: No, we just came in today. We haven’t been able to catch anybody!

MB: We heard Kurt Vile a little bit.

C: What’s coming up next for you after the festival?

MB: We’re starting an American tour. We’ll be back to Chicago in the future. We’re staying a bit in LA. In October and November we’ll be touring Europe and the UK.

C: Where do you consider your base to be since you’re all from different places?

JR: London. But that could change.

MB: That could change.

C: If it changed where would you go?

MB and JR: Chicago!

C: Yeah! You could get those duck fat fries anytime you want.

JR: [Cheers]

C: Festival-wise, is this the first big fest you’ve played? It was a pretty quick escalation from forming to cutting your record to now performing here.

MB: It feels like longer. We’re worked quite hard before the album came out and then we did that tour with Smith Westerns, and Tame Impala. Then we did South by Soutwest, And now it’s here and it kind of feels right. We did a fest in the UK, Glastonbury.

C: And you and Daniel were previously in another band together, Cajun Beach--sorry--Cajun Dance Party.

JR: That’s such a good name!

C: Cajun Beach Party?

MB: I’m going to quote you on that so much. I love that.

C: Do you have a different perspective since you two have been in bands before for some time?

MB: It was a little different because [Cajun Dance Party] was when we were in school and we weren’t touring. This has been much more intense work. It was weird with Cajun because we were really young and it wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to be doing.

C: Now that you’ve spent some time time here and are based in the UK, can you say whether you’ve had different responses to the band, or different attitudes about your music?

MB: I don’t really know, to be honest. You get surprised a lot of the time. We went to Brazil and we didn’t expect to have any fans there but everyone was singing along. Like, more so than any gig we’ve played. You never know. There’s definitely a huge difference in attitudes between the UK and America. The UK is smaller than Texas and there are a lot more levels that a band can exist on in America. There’s like, college radio so you don’t have to be doing big things or whatever, and in Europe, the UK has lot of small things and a few massive things but nothing really in between. So, national big radio stations and nothing really else. You can’t exist on as many levels as you can in America.

C: You signed in America, with Fat Possum right? You have a label now.

MB: Yeah! They’re lovely. They’re really good to us. It was weird because we signed a deal as soon as it came along. We kind of went with our gut and it turned out to be the best thing. I think they’re the best label around at the moment.

C: We're about out of time, so I want to thank you for talking with us. Hope you have fun at the fest and come back to Chicago soon.

DB: Thanks! Cheers.