Our Tastemakers video series presents a closer look at — and an exclusive performance from — the cool artists hitting the Billboard Tastemakers chart, which brings you the top-selling albums each week based on an influential panel of indie stores and small regional chains.
The 90s are back in a big way this year, and British four-piece Yuck (though drummer Jonny Rogoff hails from New Jersey), have a sound that recalls that eras best. Released back in February on Fat Possum, their eponymous debut is awash with warm, fuzzed-out hooks that evoke indie stalwarts like Dinosaur Jr., Pavement and Teenage Fanclub. But the band doesn’t focus on such comparisons.
PHOTOS: YUCK’S TASTEMAKERS SESSION
“When those songs were written,” says guitarist Max Bloom, “it was kind of just [us] doing it and not really thinking about it… doing it because it was really fun. I feel like that’s the attitude we’re always gonna have: doing anything that feels normal and right and natural and not talking about it.”
The band lets their music speak for itself. And speak it did when Yuck (Bloom, Rogoff, guitarist/singer Daniel Blumberg, and bassist Mariko Doi) visited NYC’s Mophonics studio for a Billboard Tastemakers video session that turned the camera on them as they tore through three tracks from their debut.
As lush and enveloping as it’s sound is, “Yuck” is a very DIY band, as evidenced by the band’s go-to recording space: Bloom’s bedroom.
Yuck performs “Rubber” at its Billboard Tastemakers session.
“It’s just a place we felt really comfortable in,” Bloom says. “Things could get stressful, but in a way that comes from having a producer adding their opinion to the mix; also it can get pretty hot when a bunch of people and equipment are crammed into a small room during summer.”
To an extent the space, and more so Yuck’s vision of what they wanted the final product to sound like left them with self-imposed limitations, whether that was recording on an 8-track player or just knowing when to draw the line on a song.
Still, Bloom believes, “We would never have been able to record the album in any other way and it turned out in a way that was true to us and true to how we were sounding at that point in time.”
Following the record’s release, Yuck criss-crossed the U.S., first with Smith Westerns, again with Tame Impala), and most recently on their first headlining tour, which just wrapped up in Los Angeles. But don’t worry, they’ll be back this fall).
“I find that America has a lot more different levels that a band can exist on just because it’s so much bigger,” says Brit Bloom about the Stateside touring experience. “You can find your place here a lot easier.”
Yuck performs “The Wall” at its Billboard Tastemakers session.
One of the perks of touring with Tame Impala was that they got to play larger venues with much better sound, including the historic Fillmore in San Francisco.
“They make really nice posters there,” says Bloom, “and they made one for Tame Impala and our name was on it in really small writing.”
“Tame Impala thought it said ‘Tame Impala Suck,'” but it actually said ‘Tame Impala, Yuck,'” chimes in Blumberg, pausing for a few seconds before letting out a quick laugh as Rogoff confirms with, “True story.”
Perhaps such a name leads to confusion; and Bloom jokes later that, “The band was originally called ‘Fuck’ but when we played our first gig, the people made a typing error.”
Other possible origins: “My great-great grandpa was called Yuck Blumberg and he taught me how to play guitar when I was really young,” says Blumberg.
“In Japanese, ‘Yuck’ means three boys and a girl playing in harmony,” says Doi.
“That’s adorable,” says Rogoff.
“That is so racist,” quips Blumberg–the whole band laughing.
Hypotheticals aside, three boys and a girl playing in harmony is exactly what Yuck does–and they do it really well. But you just watched the videos above, so you knew that already.