Gloriously addictive and brilliantly bonkers in equal measure.
Words: Sam Taylor. Photo: James Brown.
Leeds’ Yard Act aren’t like many of the other acts mentioned in this year’s Hype List. In a year where it’s been hard for bands to make much progress – what with live music in tatters – this bunch have something that punches through the noise. Formed when friends frontman James Smith and Ryan Needham – one half of Menace Beach, no less – started creating minimalist tracks using a drum machine and borrowed bass, they expanded out and found their own voice. A spoken word middle section about a woman killing her imaginary husband? Sure, why not? Gloriously addictive and brilliantly bonkers in equal measure.
Hello James, how’s it going? What are you up to today?
I am listening to records and checking my phone for updates on the US election.
Give us the tl;dr of your time in the band so far – you formed last year?
Bloody hell, I just had to google what tl;dr was. We are exclusively a lockdown band at this point; we sound class in the practice room though.
Your music has a very distinct vibe in the way you deliver satirical humour, how did you develop that?
Bloody hell, I just had to google what satirical was. I was raised to take the piss, but it comes from a place of compassion rather than cynicism.
I think it’s important to keep your ego in check, and to do the same for those you love. Mockery doesn’t have to be malicious.
‘Peanuts’ is a funny one isn’t it, how did it come together? Releasing a track with such a huge change of pace in the middle feels like a bold move.
It came around because the demo recording ended, and I carried on talking; I’m not very good at editing myself usually.
It did feel like a bold move, especially after ‘Fixer Upper’ did alright, but we discussed it as a band, and it felt important not to get bogged down in trying to emulate our past success.
We felt we needed to be true to what this band was about and what we wanted to achieve in the long run, which is creative freedom, rather than just repeating ourselves to diminishing returns.
Do you ever incorporate people you know into songs, or are they mostly fictional?
I am a lyrical assassin, and there is a target on the forehead of every fucker I have ever known.
Do all these characters weave into a wider narrative?
I’m writing a short story/novella about the first four tracks we’re releasing which links them all together, I’m hoping to have it ready for February, but it’s taking a lot of work, and I’m short on time at the moment. It’s good though; it makes sense once you suspend your disbelief.
What inspires you, both in music and in life?
A genuine belief in a better tomorrow. I firmly believe things are going to be alright in the end.
What’s on your band bucket list? Where d’you want to take this?
What are you working on at the mo?
The flip side to Peanuts is out in January, and I have some ideas for a stage show, but it involves people building a house around us whilst we play live, and we’ll need to get some funding to make it happen. I suppose I should say we’ll be doing an album as well, just to appease the machine, but I’m in no rush.
Do you have much ‘in the diary’ for next year?
Yeah, we’ll be about a bit, and we’re open to decent offers, give us a call: 07930570808.
If you had to write a five-word sell for Yard Act, what would it be?
Tired men get second wind.
Taken from the December 2020 / January 2021 issue of Dork, out now.