Guest blog post by Gretchen Mashburn:
About six months ago, I was listening to the New Driven Torqued show on WROM Radio, when the most heavy, beautifully sung alt-rock song I had heard in years caught my ear. I had just begun listening to some Indie Rock after seeing some hashtags on Twitter about it. Winchester Rebels was one of the first bands that caught my attention due to their awesome name. They play good stuff, but the music I heard that night, hooked me. After the song ended, I tweeted Sherry at New Driven and told her that there was this one song from that night’s show that I was totally digging. Without any further description from me, she knew exactly which one it was. It was “Where are My Soldiers At?” by the Western Canadian alt-rock band YUCA.
For weeks following, I saturated my personal as well as “business” Twitter accounts, and my Facebook page, with that song; randomly sharing at all hours of the day and night. I haven’t played a song on repeat like that since the early 1990’s when Alice in Chains released “Would”. I did the only respectable thing a music lover could do; I bought everything they had available on iTunes and stalked YouTube for videos of their live shows. By the time they released “Give Up My Ghosts” and “Skeletal Desires”, in June, my friends were all practically jumping for joy that they would hear something other than “break ooooouuuuut the wiiiiiine” from my horrible singing voice once I reached “solo a cappella singing level” of intoxication.
Since then I have talked, to anyone that will listen, about this band and how amazing they are. I have burned CD’s and mailed them to my friends to listen to. They all agree that YUCA is an amazing group. They are truly the real deal. And they do it with only three band members. Guitarist and Lead singer Matt Borck, Bassist Andy Boldt, and Drummer Dave Atkinson put out a sound that is truly unique, spellbinding, and just plain damn good music. Recently, I crushed brains with Sherry from New Driven Radio and we came up with a little concept of me doing written interviews and what not for bands, to be posted on New Driven’s website. The band I asked to do first was, shockingly, YUCA. The following is the result. The interview took place during early September, and gives a little background into the band members, as well as their own individual takes on the new album, “Rebuilding The Fallen Empire” which set for an October 11th release. Their publicist Angela Nagle of Rising Empire Records was extremely cooperative with me, and I will forever be thankful to her for letting me use YUCA for my first foray into this arena.
Andy – BLUE
Matt – RED
Dave – Green
1) For a three man group, you produce a LOT of sound. How do you pull it off, and what are some obstacles, if any, that you encounter when recording in order to achieve this enormous sound you guys put out?
Making things sound huge is about finding the right balance – space and dynamics allow for the music to go from quiet and intimate to huge and explosive. Also, being a three piece has allowed each of us to develop a unique approach to filling that sound with the parts we play as well as the sound and effects we use, not only on guitar, but on bass as well.
(See Andys answer)
As the drummer, I rely mainly on Matt and Andy’s knowledge with their gear to fill in the space with sound. Their sound will dictate how busy or spacious my grooves are. We have many levels of dynamics, and by being able to play in all ranges allows for us to sound huge when we want to. Filling up the space is easy when you know every sound going into that sounds amazing.
2) Do you all come from musically oriented families? Any siblings that play as well?
My family has always been involved musically, singing from before we could talk and playing instruments since the age of 4 and encouraged to try new things – both my brother and sister play music at different levels.
I grew up in a very musical family and much like Andy was singing & making up songs before I could talk. My Opa and Oma sang, my dad was a choir leader and sang in bands and my mom & sisters love to sing as well. I remember when I was a child I would stand on my Oma and Opa’s fireplace hearth and sing for the family – I just loved to sing and make up my own songs. In my family, if we were driving we were singing, if we were hanging out, music was on and we were singing – I loved it.
My family was always singing and encouraging music, but never to the extent of pushing music lessons, or buying instruments. I fell in love with music from seeing it performed live. I have 2 siblings that sing, but nothing serious.
3) How did the three of you get together to form YUCA? Were you in any previous bands?
Matt and I grew up in the same area and played in ‘neighboring’ bands and almost played in a band together but it never worked out. A few years later when YUCA was on the lookout for a new bass player, Matt knew where to look.
It was sheer luck and since I don’t believe in luck – it was perfect timing. As Andy said we had all been in “neighboring bands” and tried to make things work but never had the right teammates (band) to achieve the dreams that we had in our hearts. YUCA is the name we chose for our dream. A dream that me Andy & Dave all share and are very passionate about. It seems cheesy to use the word ‘dream’ as most people aren’t encouraged to pursue theirs but passion doesn’t even seem a deep enough word to describe how we feel about YUCA.
I had always loved YUCA from seeing them locally to hearing them on the radio. I was in a serious band before them, and as that came to a close I noticed YUCA looking for a drummer. The timing was perfect, and I did what I needed to do in order to get the job. That was over 5 years ago. It feels like we have always been playing together now…
4) Other than yourselves, obviously, do you have a favorite genre of music, or musical group in particular?
I’ve spend some good time in lots of genres both playing and listening (funk, metal, folk, electronic, classical) but my strongest influences tend to be of the classic sort, where new bands are fun and go in different directions, not as many stick long term as favorites. I’m a really big fan of Neil Young, The Beatles, Wilco, Jamiroquai…
I love music and the more musical genres that I am exposed to, the more I fall in love with. I am always on the hunt for new music! When I put on my iphone to shuffle I get a mix of classic rock, hip hop, dance, alternative, easy listening – I love it all. I do have to say though there are a few bands that I can listen to over and over and I’d say are favorites of mine and they include: U2, Muse, Elbow, Radiohead, The Beatles, Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill…..ya had to throw in some hip-hop for ya!
I love music. Picking a favorite genre would be like picking a favorite Jelly Belly Flavour, they are all soo good. Recently, I have been really into Fusion and Jazz, however I have a huge soft spot for progressive rock, and punk rock. Bad Plus all the way to Porcupine Tree.
5) I often describe your sound as a cross between Muse, Imagine Dragons, with some Alice in Chains thrown in. Who do you see as your biggest musical influences?
See previous question 😉
That’s a very cool mix – never heard anyone use Imagine Dragons or Alice in chains to describe us before but I’ll take it. I have heard people say we have glimpses of Radiohead, Muse, U2 and that sometimes I have a “Jeff Buckley sound to my voice”. Man I love Jeff Buckley so I take that as a huge compliment.
I can see that being accurate. I would also throw in some Coldplay as well 😉
6) So far, what has been your favorite venue that you’ve performed in?
The Commodore in Vancouver is a great venue with some really good history – I’ve seen some great bands play there and it was exciting to be on the stage myself.
I was asked to perform on stage in a bull ring in Mexico. It was an incredible venue as the seats wrap around the stage and it was packed. As I was performing the power went out to the stage so I grabbed an acoustic guitar. The sun was setting behind me, and with the loudest voice I could, I sang my heart out to the crowd. It was one of those special emotional times I’ll never forget.
One of my favorite performances would have to be playing a Robson Square for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. Not only was the stage amazing, playing right downtown in the heart of the city and an olympic centerpoint, but also the crowd. Playing in front of thousands from around the world and being able to represent Canadian Rock was quite the honor.
7) I know Matt has a little one at home. How difficult is it, to balance your personal lives, with pursuing the success of your band?
It is tricky to balance and make work with families with last minute things popping up and being gone for tours, but our families are such a priority in our lives that we are committed to make it work
Balance? Lol who has balance? ( I love Andys answer.)
For me it is pretty easy as I have no personal life. When I am not working on new music and performing, I am teaching online to thousands. So I am constantly in front of people, one way or another and that has become my social life.
8) What has been the biggest disappointment, career wise, that you’ve been faced with?
That’s a tough question and I am not even sure how to respond? I think for us we try to always remain positive and not dwell on the negatives. Anytime we have walls or stumble we pick each other up, dust ourselves off and learn from the challenge. What we are faced with right now – getting our music to the world! That’s a huge challenge and one we need your help with. We can’t do that without your help.
I think one of the biggest disappointments is failed relationships that we have seen in the business. There have been plenty of occasions where we have invested time and money in order to build relationships that would really help both sides. But the music business is a cutthroat one…
9) As a lifelong fan of music, I have seen quite a few INSANELY talented groups fall apart due to internal strife and personal issues; Oasis, Stone Temple Pilots, GnR to name a few. Assuming you guys are able to achieve the success you deserve and are capable of, have you given any thought as to how to preserve your group? Given any thought to the things you can do as a group to ensure that your goals are achieved and not compromised by the ego-driven b.s. that has destroyed so many great musical groups?
We may have an accumulative ego as a band, but we are very respectful and considerate of each other and that is part of the reason why we chose to work with each other.
I love Andy’s answer and I agree with him. We chose to be together for a reason. We hate seeing incredible musicians and bands fall apart as well which is why we have chosen to learn from their issues and be active in preserving our group. We all choose to communicate, to truly listen, to respect and honor each other. We have also encouraged each other to have (what I like to call “ass-kickers”) in our lives. People that we love and trust to help keep us in check, grounded & balanced. Remember in the movie Happy Gilmore when Happy sees the golfer in the golf clothes and he says “If I ever wore clothes like that, I’d have to kick my own ass!” – Well, if I ever started to act like anyone BUT who I truly am, not only would I have to kick my own ass but I’d have my “ass-kickers” doing that to me too! On our own, the three of us are normal, insecure boys but collectively (as YUCA) we know we are the greatest band you’ve never heard – YET!
We study those bands that fall apart, and study the dynamic of bands in general. What makes us unique is we are all legitimate guys who share the same passion. We are not out to become filthy rich, but share a lifetime of writing music and performing. We have been together for so long already, and we have been able to do that because we are all smart enough guys who know what it takes.
10) Any advice you would dole out to anyone considering attempting to make a career in the music industry?
Hone your craft, practice all the time, create your own luck and WORK HARD!
Be prepared for a long journey!
11) If you were given the freedom to choose one song, what is the one cover you would choose to record for your next album?
Ummmmmm I really don’t know? Maybe a Miley Cyrus track or Lady Gaga? Something you would never expect from us. It’s too easy to cover a band you may sound like.
We have the freedom to record any song for our next album, we just may have to pay through the roof in order to do so. With the amount of music we write monthly, I doubt we would have room for a cover 😉
12. Lastly, I was told you were recording a new album this fall. Have you decided on a title? How much material have you completed on it? Did you guys choose a certain theme or type of sound you wanted for this album?
At this moment the album has been mixed and is on its way to be mastered. We chose some of the best in the business to work on this album and we feel that it shows with a great feel and sound. The album will be called ‘Rebuilding the Fallen Empire’ and we feel the songs and sound matches the title of the album…(I find describing sound a difficult thing to do, which is why I’d rather just play;)
Andy gave a great answer! YUCA – Rebuilding the fallen empire CD Out soon!
Rebuiling A Fallen Empire. Because we have 10 songs on this album, and is the evolution from our band going from a 4 piece to a 3 peice. In the album, many of the songs were written for a 4
piece band, so there was a challenge to re produce for a 3 piece group. That took the forefront when compiling this album, more so than any other theme.
I was already excited about the new album, but after the interview, I have damn near had to go on Rx meds to contain my excitement. It is rare that a group comes along that just catches the ear of a listener, or at least this one. I fully support Indie Rock and anyone that wishes to pursue a career in music. But let’s call a spade a spade folks. Most people don’t make it, and there is a legitimate reason why. They’re just not good enough. These guy do not fall into that category. I enjoyed the opportunity to interview YUCA and look forward to doing it again sometime.
~ Gretchen Mashburn