Interview: Wild Yaks

It’s been a wild road for Wild Yaks, for lack of a more suitable clichéd turn of phrase. They’ve undergone countless lineup changes. They’ve broken up. They’ve gotten back together. They’ve laughed. They’ve cried. They’ve been around for a “Million Years,” at least in blog time, and have celebrated their cult legacy with a new LP of the same name.

Prior to headlining our first showcase of 2013 at 285 Kent (with our friends at Newtown Radio and Kristina Tequila), frontman Rob Bryn took a few minutes out of his day to answer some “hard-hitting” questions about his journey with the band, Roberta’s, their reputation as a party band and the internet. Rob answered my questions in his underwear, and in the interest of full disclosure; I came up with them while dressed in similar garb (or lack there of.)

Peter Rittweger: I’m guilty of this myself, but the narrative that is often applied to your band is that you’re a bunch of “fun-lovin” dudes up there just having a good time, how do you feel about that?

Rob Bryn: Fun loving? Last night I watched a Joan Rivers documentary. What is it about miserable people that makes them want to be on stage so bad? I wish I was a whirling dervish. Drinking and taking drugs and and playing music and dancing and trying to get other people to dance makes me feel free and like I live in the moment. I don’t know to what extent that’s true for the other guys in the band. I have a pretty equal respect for laughing and crying.

PR: Your new record, Million Years begins with the lyric, “Now that I’m a million years old, I’ve seen the past and future turn so many times.” You’ve been a band for a while now, and you’ve been through a lot; a break-up, a bunch of lineup changes and you’ve played what seems like thousands of shows. It seems very introspective. Would you say Million Years is “looking back” and reassessing the history of Wild Yaks?
RB: That lyric, “now that I’m a million years old, I’ve seen the past and the future turn so many times” is about aging and recognizing patterns in your life and the cycle of, periods of expectation and hope being followed by disappointment and failure. It’s about fate I guess. Can we create ourselves as the person we want to be? I wrote it when I was devastated about a girl and it was like, this shit again?

PR: What would you say the biggest challenges are for a punk band in a super-saturated and often incestuous scene?

RB: Wow, there’s so many bands. And what purpose do they serve? It’s so much vanity. We’ve only been on tour a couple times in the years now that the band has existed and every time I’m like, why on earth would these people want to listen to me scream and play guitar poorly and jump around. We’re community artists. We play to a lot of the same people over and over again. Even before the record came out there were people who would sing along with every word. I think that’s pretty cool. Of course I wish the community were bigger and I would like to see the world, but, who am I fooling? Have you ever heard anybody that could really sing? That shit’s amazing.

PR: You’ve gone through a number of lineup changes, but your band has kept a very distinct and pure sound. Has it been difficult to maintain your artistic vision with bandmates coming and going over the years?

RB: The band has always kind of been a mix of some musicianship and a lot of incompetence and naivety. For the first couple years I kind of ran it like a fascist boy’s club and there was a lot of fighting. We broke up because it was making me sad and I could’t figure out how to do it to just enjoy the doing of it and not care about the results and not want or need money or success or validation. The current line up of the band is at least two years old. They’re all way better players than I am. I love playing music with them. It sustains me. Does that answer the question?

PR: I’ve noticed that you guys don’t have a website or a band camp… and your Myspace is pretty empty as well. It seems very… punk of you. Are you guys making some sort of statement against the internet at a time where it’s a pretty big part of most bands’ promotion?

RB: I’m a horrible lazy person. I used to love the myspace page. Feels like that era was so long ago. I could never get into band camp. And I don’t like the idea of doing something again that I’ve already done. It was hard for me to switch from friendster to myspace and then hard to switch to Facebook. I just now decided the band is anti-internet. I wish I had amnesia. Going to a show and enjoying it is about losing yourself and defeating time.

PR: Now that your LP is out, what are your plans for 2013?

RB: I haven’t really told the band or the girl I’ve been seeing or anyone but my mother really, but I’ve been thinking about running away to Hawaii. An old friend has a, back-to-the-earth commune farming type thing going on there. I’m depressed. The winter doesn’t agree with me. I don’t have a job. I wish I had amnesia. It took us two years to make the last record. I hope we can write and record a new one in the next couple months. Why not?

PR: What do you think about the Bushwick mall?

RB: I’m familiar with that building and I’ve heard talk for a couple years now about stores going in there. I try not to buy anything. If you watch “Century of the Self” by Adam Curtis you’ll see that we kind of exist and have been programmed to be consumers. We’re economic robots. We’re slaves. Why are we even alive? Fleeting moments of satisfaction? Even sex is bullshit. We’re slaves to our DNA which is a code of information that wants to be immortal. The world is all mouths trying to bite each other. I don’t know, I kind of wish somebody just put infertility drugs in the world wide water supply and then everyone, seeing the that the cycle of horror was finally broken, would just sit down wherever they were and meditate on the mystery until the last person died.

PR: What’s your favorite pie from Roberta’s?

RB: Roberta’s is my brother Chris’ place. He was in the band twice. In one period as the bass player and later as the drummer. Wait maybe three times because he was the bass player again for awhile. Anyway he named the restaurant after our mom. I’m named after our mom too. I just ate there last night and the pizza I had was so fucking good. I don’t remember what it was called…

Tickets will be available at the door for Wild Yaks, Unstoppable Death Machines, Habibi, Violent Bullshit and Dirtyfinger at 285 Kent this Thursday.