What did you think the future would be like? Did you think it would be hoverboards and everything Marty McFly like in Back to the Future Part 2? Did you think it would be a dark dreary place a la Rick Deckard's dystopian tragic adventure in Blade Runner? Well, in many ways the future is here, and some visions of the future were pretty on point, and some things just never came to be sadly!
Enter the DIY Dancepunk masters YACHT! Their latest album, and arguably their greatest, I Though The Future Would Be Cooler is freshly released and it explores many pressing considerations of the modern day reality we live in, and how this world is largely an interesting organic realization of the future from our childhood's past, for better and for worse.
We talked a few things over with brilliant YACHT members Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans discussing topics such as their unique promotion strategy to their own visions of the future. Without further adieu, let us get on with the interview!
What's going on in the world of Yacht?
Claire L. Evans: That's a big question. We are just about to release a new record in 6 days. We're going on tour in the east coast, and the west coast and in Europe. We are...
Jona Bechtolt: We're releasing a video this week. We are full of passion and hope and electricity.
Claire L. Evans: Our hearts still haven't yet been broken by this cruel rule.
Jona Bechtolt: We believe the future would have been cooler, had some things not happened. I don't know...
So on to the new album. I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler is your latest album. Is it your greatest? How do you feel about it?
Jona Bechtolt: There's a joke that a friend of ours was telling us. Any time an artist makes anything they're like, "This is the greatest thing I've ever made," and of course we feel that way. This is by far our most favorite album. Any time we ever make something, it speaks to a period of time with what we're thinking about and what we're talking about and the kinds of things that we are interested in. The album reflects all of those things of the past three and a half, four years. So of course, it tunes to our time period, so we definitely love it. It's the first we've written a record with our best friend, and frequent collaborator, Rob Kieswetter from the ground up. So it's technically better.
Progress is always a beautiful thing. So, you took some very unconventional and very cool methods to promote the album. Can you share the impetus for this approach?
Jona Bechtolt: It's kind of two parts. The first part is that every project that we did served a purpose and started with a question why. It directly related to each of the pieces. It's about lyrics, and the track list or it's about the billboard and the album title or Uber and LA place itself. Every single thing has a deep connection to its project. It's not just Justin Bieber's new love song is promoted by, it's going to get Google Docs collaboration or something like that.
Claire L. Evans: Basically, the album is about a very specific set of things. It's about being a human being in the 21st century and contending with how terrifying and absurd and hilarious our moment in time is. Each one of these projects speaks to that in a very explicit way. They are extensions of the album's themes.
I had a sense it was going to add to the album's overall message and after listening to it I can definitely hear it. I thought it was just mentally fun overall. You guys knocked it out of the park there.
Claire L. Evans: We love doing that kind of stuff. We're big project people. When we're done with a record it's like, "Now what are we going to do?" Like idle hands. Coming up with weird conceptual things like this keeps us busy, which is good.
What do you hope fans take away from this album?
Claire L. Evans: I hope that people perceive that we are speaking the truth, because I feel that we are. Of course, it's subjective. Anyone's truth is subjective. I hope people realize we're being honest and not snarky and not ironic and not possessed. We put our heart into this record and even though there are some things that seem tongue and cheek, they really are quite sincere.
Jona Bechtolt: Also, it's funny, and I hope people don't think we're trying to scare them. We are ultimately optimistic.
Claire L. Evans: Yeah. It isn't a negative album. There's definitely a lot of observations about the world that I think are true and could be perceived as negative. Ultimately we're very hopeful, optimistic people and we're trying to start a conversation about the condition of our world and what we can do to make it better.
That's absolutely great. As you have quite the catalog, where does this album fit in context to your full body of YACHT work?
Claire L. Evans: Yacht has been a band for 12 years. I've only been in it for about 7 of those years, a long time. I think other bands might have changed the name over the years. The Yacht of today, which is a 3 piece rock and roll band, is very different from the Yacht of 2002, which was Jona Bechtolt alone with his computer.
Jona Bechtolt: I wouldn't call us a rock and roll band.
Claire L. Evans: Whatever we are.
Jona Bechtolt: Yeah.
Claire L. Evans: We're basically different bands between then and now, but we decided to keep one name over the years because we believed in having a body of work.
Jona Bechtolt: Also, there's this thing that happens with artists today where they feel like the personal brand is such a thing to focus on and something to take seriously. So often that some bands if they want to make a track that sounds slightly different than what they usually make they feel like they have to create an alter ego or a whole separate band. You see this happen with a lot of bands right now. For me, that feels like a cop out. It feels totally unnecessary. It's so much more interesting when you find out that an artist is multi-dimensional rather than someone who makes a certain kind of song.
Claire L. Evans: Yeah, that they're experimenting and trying new things and taking risks. Sometimes trying on totally different sounds that are so surprising. For example, my favorite Neil Young record is Trans. You would never say that's the definitive Neil Young sound, yet I appreciate the risk. It's really fun to follow an artist's career for a long time and see all the weird changes they make over the years, as long as they feel authentic.
Jona Bechtolt: We see it as being teenagers. We're not the same people that we were 12 years ago. I think it'd be scary if we were.
Personally, what did you think the future was going to be like?
Claire L. Evans: That's such a hard question. I feel like we're going to get it a lot.
Jona Bechtolt: Yeah. We both thought it would be more evenly distributed. It wouldn't be such a dynamic of rich and poor.
Claire L. Evans: Yeah, there wouldn't be such wide ranging inequality across the board in so many different ways. We were both raised on Utopian science fiction stuff. We always imagined the future would be people in matching outfits fighting for the good of humankind or questing into space and following the prime directive and not interfering with other civilizations but peacefully observing.
Jona Bechtolt: Yeah. I thought it would be a lot less brands. I thought it would be more punk.
How do you succinctly and simply describe YACHT?
Jona Bechtolt: A band, a business and a belief system.
That's strong. That's real strong. Is there a Yacht philosophy?
Jona Bechtolt: Yeah, totally. We wrote a book. It's more like a chat book.
Claire L. Evans: A pamphlet. I think everybody has a philosophy. Not everybody makes it a big part of their artistic practice or their public facing life but we've always been interested in knowing where people are coming from as artists. It's cool to know what people's political ethos is or ethical ethos.
Jona Bechtolt: Yeah. Just from being fans, when I was a huge fan of Nirvana I was so happy to learn about bands that they loved and to fall into that.
Claire L. Evans: Yeah. It makes Nirvana better to know that Kurt Cobain was human. Our belief system is essentially just classic DIY belief system. People should feel radically self empowered to make the art that they want to make.
Jona Bechtolt: No one can do anything better than you can.
Claire L. Evans: If the universe is infinite then everybody has a right to be at the center of it at any given time. Everybody has their right to distinguish what their reality is like.
Jona Bechtolt: We're radically against entitlement too.
Claire L. Evans: Yeah. No one deserves anything. We're all lucky to get what we want.
That's a beautiful philosophy. What are your favorite songs on the album, and why?
Claire L. Evans: That's a good question. It's always changing for us.
Jona Bechtolt: My favorite song is Hologram. I've always wanted to make a song that somehow there's a tinge of resemblance to a No Wave song. I feel like we really accomplished it with Hologram.
Claire L. Evans: I also really like Hologram, performing Hologram. I think our cover on the record, I Want To Fuck You Until I'm Dead is one of my favorite songs that we've ever recorded because I love the original so much. It's a cover of a 70s post-punk band called Family Fodder, who are lovely people and still making music. It's such a weird mix of songs. They all have very different identities, different attitudes. It's really fun to play them. We're going to start playing them live soon and it's been really fun to practice them because each one is its own little story, its own little world.
What is one deep thought that you've been having lately?
Claire L. Evans: I'll tell you one thing that's a pressing thought on both of our minds. Being a band that lives in Southern California, the question of sustainability and whether or not we are human beings should even be living in this environment where we're shipping water from 5,000 miles away. We're flushing our toilets with pristine Sierra Nevada mountain water. I feel like we often feel responsible and guilty and stressed out and concerned about the future of our home.
Catch Yacht on Tour! 2015 Tour Dates:
Oct 22 - Teragram Ballroom - Los Angeles, CA *
Oct 24 - Wonder Ballroom - Portland, OR *
Oct 25 - Neumos - Seattle, WA *
Nov 5 - Rough Trade - Brooklyn, NY * [SOLD OUT]
Nov 7 - U Street Music Hall - Washington, DC *
Nov 9 - The Sinclair - Boston, MA *
Nov 12 - Paradiso Noord - Amsterdam, NL
Nov 15 - Badaboum - Paris, FR
Nov 16 - Oslo - London, UK
Nov 17 - Night and Day - Manchester, UK
Nov 19 - Vooruit Café - Gent, BE
Nov 20 - Molotov - Hamburg, DE
Nov 21 - Salon IKSV - Istanbul, TR
Nov 22 - Luxor - Cologne, DE
Nov 23 - Lido - Berlin, DE
* with Larry Gus