Aug. 29, 2012 - Issue #880: LP
Fri, Aug 31
'We're trying to get a little bit out of the head and into the hips," says Yes Nice co-founder Nathaniel Wong.
He's referencing the band's forthcoming album, Warm Gun, which will be coming out—fingers crossed—in mid-October. Its predecessor, Blindfolded, was an intricate, soaring blend of vocals and instrumentals that drew Arcade Fire comparisons, but Wong says it's time for something new.
"There's a lot more groove and bass-driven songs because we're thinking of our live show more with our album. I think Blindfolded is an album that you could sit alone in a room and put on a nice stereo and you know, have a beer and listen to it and it'll be satisfying in that type of way, but I think we wanted to make more social music that we can play live and is inviting for people to want to get into it with their bodies: like moveable, danceable tracks," Wong notes, adding the groovy transition has been new territory for the group, but one they're excited about moving forward.
Warm Gun not only saw a new approach to the overall sound of the band, but also a new approach to the recording process. When Blindfolded was recorded, Wong and fellow founding member Scott McKellar tackled the job as a duo, manning numerous instruments and the overall production. This time around, the pair worked with the band's new members: Jillian McKellar, Scott's wife and Wong's sister, on keys and vocals; Peter Hendrickson on drums; Darren Frank on vocals and electric guitar and Wong's wife Erin on strings.
The expanded lineup allowed for a heavy dose of improvisation being incorporated into the songwriting and recording sessions for Warm Gun. Wong recalls one song in particular called "Old Boy," where he sang stream-of-consciousness lyrics over drums, bass and some sound sampling that didn't make sense, but took shape with the help of Jillian, who sings the song on Warm Gun.
"She sort of interpreted my stream of consciousness, stuff that really didn't make sense, some of it wasn't even words," Wong notes. "It was sort of like this weird translation thing that happened and that ended up being the song."
As the band's sonic and physical evolution continues, it shapes a new internal dynamic from its roots as a duo.
"It's a family band ... there's sort of three married couples: Scott and JIll, Erin and myself and Peter and Darren—they don't like to admit it, but they kind of are a married couple," Wong laughs, later adding the key to keeping the dynamic positive is an open flow of communication, which proved particularly necessary during a string of shows in Ontario, where Yes Nice is just starting to acquire a fan base, which meant small crowds, little financial return and a whole lot of stress. "We're realizing that after like a couple days we all just needed to sit down and debrief and yell at each other and get out our frustrations and because I think a lot of times, you know, if we don't talk about stuff, everyone's feeling resentful and then it builds and we're all up on the stage mad at each other and that's not very good for trying to have a good performance."
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