Yo La Tengo is a name that has that ability to introduce itself. With a 20-plus year history and the cult following to match, this band has cemented itself firmly in the world of music. By combining and refining their own differences and similarities, band members Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan and James McNew have ended up creating something bigger that has reached levels they never imagined. Contrary to what is typical of artists deep in their careers, Yo La Tengo has constantly keeps growing, experimenting musically and challenging themselves.
The iconic band’s latest release, Fade, tends to lean more towards the bands quiet and calm nature, there is no doubt that the playful side also fires through and shows off the multi-layered aspect the group holds artistically. The album is a myriad of layers that have been finely tuned, worked and mastered, something that could be attributed to Yo La Tengo’s decision to switch things up a bit and work with genius producer and technical engineer John McEntire.
“Working with John enabled us to try so many things, he’s a really talented engineer and he was able to facilitate any idea that popped into our heads. Before the sentences ended he was already most of the way done with it. That was kind of a psychedelic experience. I think every answer we heard from his was ‘yes’ like ‘could we try-‘ ‘yep, sure can I just finished it, here it is.’ Once we realized that there were endless possibilities we began working in a really explosively creative way,” explains McNew.
Not only is the album a success in the eyes and ears of the band and fans, but the live performances are something people should be getting excited about.
“The show we’re doing now is unlike anything we’ve done in the past. We’re playing two sets, the first is quiet where the second is loud which enables us to highlight the mood we play and is really a good format for us. We can change it up when we want, ” he says. The immediate spark and animation in James McNew’s tone upon the topic of touring is hard to ignore. “It’s been really fun, this has been my favourite tour I’ve done ever in this group. I love the shows that we’re playing, they’ve been really satisfying and really fun, it’s been awesome. I’ve had such a great time. It’s been exhausting at times but every day on the tour I woke up and I couldn’t wait to get started and I never really felt that before. Normally I am so exhausted that I just want to go to sleep. It’s been really fantastic.”
With that kind of amped attitude and motivation it is hard not to be intrigued to see just how it all translates through their live show.
Yo La Tengo is set up for a busy year ahead, for April 26 to the end of May alone they start in Baltimore, then hit southern states, slide across Southwest, come up the coast to the Pacific Northwest and drift back through the Midwest. Along with that they will also be playing the Wilco Solid Sound Festival in Massachusetts then will be playing some shows with Belle & Sebastian in the summertime. That’s just the surface. “It’s a busy year and it’s really great.”
Yo La Tengo plays the Commodore Ballroom on May 18.
By Jamie GoymanBC, British Columbia