Yard Act have shared new single ‘Dream Job’ together with particulars of their second album ‘Where’s My Utopia?’ and an enormous homecoming present. Examine all of it out beneath, together with our interview with frontman James Smith.
The follow-up to the Leeds band’s acclaimed Mercury-nominated 2022 debut ‘The Overload‘ will arrive 1 March, 2024, with the first taster coming in the form of the self-analytical but danceable ‘Where’s My Utopia?’ – wherein Smith wrestles with feeling “very privileged but also struggling” to be in a profitable band.
“‘Dream Job’ arrives midway through the narrative arc of the album, but it picks up where the band left off at the end of last year when I’d finally had time to contemplate everything that had happened to us,” Smith instructed NME. “Folks at all times ask, ‘Oh, you’ve achieved all this – how does it really feel?’ But it surely’s arduous to articulate that on the spot.
“I learned that I had to lie to myself and everyone around me to get through it, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – it was a coping strategy. There is truth in everything I said; that it is ace, it is top, it’s boss, it’s class and all the other superlative words that I use to describe this journey we’ve been on and this job that I’ve landed myself in.”
He continued: “Also, it’s not that simple. Getting to do what you’ve wanted to do since you were a teenager doesn’t actually solve your problems.”
The album has been co-produced by the band alongside Gorillaz member Remi Kabaka Jr., and shall be launched with an enormous 2024 UK and European tour that now features a huge homecoming present at Leeds’ Millennium Sq. Leeds on August 3.
Following an enormous summer time that noticed them open the primary stage at Studying Competition, drop one-off single ‘The Trench Coat Museum‘ and play a five-night residency on the Brudenell Social Membership alongside a supporting card of comedians, the band nonetheless have packed schedule to see out 2023 earlier than the cycle of the second document takes maintain.
We caught up with frontman James Smith.
Hey James. The topic of ‘Where’s My Utopia?’, getting all the things you’ve ever wished however not feeling proper, is a fairly common theme actually, proper?
Smith: “Yeah. That’s how human beings perform to encourage themselves to get via the day: that concept that there’s one thing higher. For me, for my total grownup life, an enormous a part of me has been very content material with discovering love and having a baby – that’s one other huge aspect to the album – however there was one other a part of me that was so sure that that is what I wished. I used to be, and I’m sincerely so proud of all the things that occurred, but it surely was a journey and a wrestle. The final two years have been quite a bit, and I couldn’t afford myself the time to course of because it was occurring. I’ve discovered much more about it after the very fact.
“Even in early conversations when I started telling the band what I was writing about, they were like, ‘Oh, you’re writing about how hard it is being in a successful band? This isn’t going to go down well, James…’”
But it surely’s about chasing that pot of gold on the finish of the rainbow?
“It’s about hope and perseverance. A lot of what we’ve always done has been rooted in where society is at and a comment on the times, but it’s more universal. Human beings have always been driven by our ambitions. In a world where there’s currently supermarkets where you can get food from and houses you can live in, once we’ve got the basics covered our minds aspire for other things our minds think are important because we’re not content in just being animals.”
Are there every other key lyrics or moments on the album that talk to that?
“There a line on ‘The Undertow’, which is my mantra for preserving myself in test: ‘We’re all certain by our personal perspective, any lows beneath our personal we’ll by no means really know’. That’s me saying to myself that your struggles and feelings are yours, and you’ve got each proper to really feel all the things you’re feeling but it surely’s not reflective of anybody else or comparative to anybody else however your self.
“I could often be quite dismissive of my own feelings because people are struggling more than me. Especially when this happened. ‘People would kill to be in this position. How dare you not be enjoying it?’ The duality of life is that your own personal perspective and everyone else’s are two separate things. It’s fine to feel both; that you’re very privileged but also struggling.”
Lots has been mentioned in regards to the pressures of touring – how nobody else can actually penetrate or perceive your personal little universe.
“No, they’ll’t. I’ve stopped consuming, which has been an enormous assist. I allude to it a few instances on the document. For me, it was a matter of asking what I wished extra: to be half-cut half the time, or to have the ability to do the job you’ve at all times wished to one of the best of your skill. To get probably the most out of it, I needed to cease consuming. That’s been fairly a profound and uplifting factor for me.
“When you’re out in America and Europe where we’re back in smaller venues, it’s crazy the amount of people that offer to buy you a drink who then laugh in your face when you say you don’t drink. It’s like, ‘I can’t do this every night or I would be dead!’ From quite far away, I stared that reality head on and decided to make a choice. You’re there to be the party and you’re there to entertain. As much as it is a creative expression, it’s also entertainment. You have to adopt this role, but you can’t be that thing every night. It’s mad how often it bears repeating.”
That feeds into the bittersweet nature of this album. Sonically, it’s a celebration document, proper?
“Yeah. I nonetheless love partying. If push involves shove, disco is my favorite music as a result of I like dancing. We’re a band which are certain by humour, and there’s a whole lot of humour on this document. It wouldn’t be us to take away the issues that we like in life to handle the issues we do have.
“A whole lot of the bands I’ve cherished all through historical past have managed to do each. The Treatment are the kings of that, by way of making distress palatable. But it surely’s not distress although; it’s complicated. It is a social gathering album and we had a lot enjoyable making it. Musically, it simply felt actually releasing. We didn’t really feel certain by something. We have been pushing one another. We take heed to all types of music and that comes throughout on the document. We had the time and the area to say, ‘Well why can’t do an Afrobeat-infused track?’ We take heed to a great deal of Fela Kuti and stuff like that, so why don’t we showcase that facet of us and switch it right into a track about Blackpool? That’s about as distant from Africa as you may get.
“There’s a joke in that. Shippo [Sam Shipstone, guitar] brought that Afrobeat groove to this guitar line, and I was thinking about what to write about it. The fact that Blackpool came to mind, I found that in itself quite comical. You’ve got to cheer yourself up somehow.”
Yard Act at Studying 2023. Credit score: Andy Ford for NME
There’s a hint of hip-hop to ‘An Illusion’, ‘The Undertow’ looks like Groovejet meets Studio 54, there’s an industrial wig-out on the finish of ‘Petroleum’. This isn’t a post-punk document, is it?
“I really hope that everyone agrees it’s not, because like we’ve transcended that and I hope that other people see it. I would be bummed out if a review just says, ‘It sounds like The Fall again’. They’ll say it sounds like ‘Hit The North’…”
Did you throw a lot away as a result of it felt too post-punk?
“No, it wasn’t acutely aware in any respect. The primary album wasn’t consciously written as a post-punk album both, it was simply that we have been working with minimal instrumentation. We have been influenced by Gang Of 4 and The Fall and stuff clearly, however there have been a whole lot of different influences on the primary album that have been within the background however we weren’t fairly there but as a unit. ‘The Overload’ was written fairly remotely and fairly shortly with out a lot thought. Whereas this has been sprawling by comparability, it’s been written by the 4 of us, and we realised that we had the possibility to do no matter we wished for a reasonably captive viewers. Why maintain again?
“We’ve made the album we wanted to make, and we’ve made a pop album. We’ve gone harder on the hooks and we’ve crafted better songs.”
It’s a Malicious program of left hooks. There’s a second on ‘Down By The Stream’ the place you’re apologising for choosing on a lad in your youth. The place does that come from?
“That was written with a stream of consciousness and I pulled apart my past. If I was going to write an album that framed me as struggling, then I wanted to flesh out my character. It’s a heightened version of me, but it is me. I wanted to remind myself and other people that I’m flawed as well and have done things that I shouldn’t have done. That alludes to the fear that I have and everyone else has and it manifests itself in darker ways that aren’t on. It was a long time ago and I learned from it.”
Yard Act. CREDIT: Phoebe Fox for NME
Katy J Pearson lends some stunning vocals to ‘When The Laughter Stops’. What does she convey to the vibe of the album?
“We’ve collaborated with Katy stay just a few instances and we did a remix of her track ‘Miracle’ some time again. At any time when we discovered ourselves on the identical pageant invoice, she’s joined us for covers and stuff on stage. We got here out round the same time and we simply get on and at all times mentioned we’d do one thing. We had this track with this hook that I simply couldn’t fairly hit proper, and all of us agreed that Katy could be one of the best individual for it.
“I’ve been a fan of Katy since the start. It was a pleasure and privilege to finally get to work with her, and she’s lifted that track above and beyond.”
Has all this self evaluation modified the way in which you view ambition and what you wish to do with Yard Act?
“Yeah. We’re all in, clearly, however we’re creatively conscious of what we’ve got. It’s not one thing we wish to lose by turning it right into a job that crushes us. The world remains to be open to us in the intervening time and we’re all very eager to see how far we will take it on our phrases. We’re right here if folks need us. We’re already engaged on album three. If something begins to dry up, then we gained’t drive it. The very last thing any of us need is to tour into diminishing returns as a result of ‘it’s a job now’, although it might break my coronary heart to present it up. Though that’s a manner off… at the least a 12 months, I believe.
“We’ve been producing different artists, which is interesting and exciting because there are four of us and we work collectively on that. We’ve been working on a film that I’ve been writing with James Slater who does all of our videos, which is all based around Yard Act. If we can get the funding for that, then that would be great. I want to be free to do what I want to do, to quote whatever Primal Scream sample that was. For the next 18 months we’ll just be touring like motherfuckers because there’s still work to be done.”
And also you’re prepared for it?
“I’ve found a love for touring that I lost. On the song ‘Petroleum’ I talk about a gig where I threw it all away. That was completely on me, but I was at a point where I was so depleted. I can forgive myself for that now, but I still feel the shame because performing live is sacred and there’s a responsibility in being on the stage. You have to give yourself fully to performance. A combination of things has meant I’m back in love with playing live. I’ve figured out how we can sustain this energy. That’s largely down to how we’re playing together now. We’re going to playing a lot and we’re going to be enjoying it.”
There are some huge venues on the UK tour – are arenas calling subsequent?
“If arenas become a thing, then I would be well up for seeing if we could it in a way that works for us. I wouldn’t feel defeated if it didn’t translate to that point. Life’s too short to have pre-determined, set-in-stone ideas about what is and isn’t going to work. I’ve got no shame in falling flat on my face at this stage. If someone said, ‘On album three, you can play Leeds Arena’, then I absolutely would. If it half sold out and we sounded crap, I’d just go back to playing smaller rooms and be happy again. I’d definitely try it. Why wouldn’t we? I’ve seen amazing arena shows. How do I be Kendrick Lamar at Madison Square Garden, and make that work by us being Yard Act. You never know if you don’t try it. So, ‘Yes we will be playing Leeds Arena in 2025’ is what I’m saying!”
Yard Act launch ‘Where’s My Utopia?’ on March 1, 2024. Pre-order it right here and take a look at the tracklist beneath.
1. ‘An Illusion’
2. ‘We Make Hits’
3. ‘Down By The Stream’
4. ‘The Undertow’
5. ‘Dream Job’
6. ‘Fizzy Fish’
8. ‘When The Laughter Stops’ (ft. Katy J Pearson)
9. ‘Grifter’s Grief’
10. ‘Blackpool Illuminations’
11. ‘A Vineyard for the North’
The band’s upcoming tour dates are beneath. Go to right here for tickets and extra data.
2 – Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavik, IS
4 – Warsaw, Brooklyn US
5 – Underground Arts, Philadelphia US
6 – Ottobar, Baltimore US
7 – Motorco Music Corridor, Durham US
9 – The Basement East, Nashville US
10 – The Earl, Atlanta US
11 – Toulouse Theatre, New Orleans US
14 – Mohawk, Austin US
15 – Deep Ellum Artwork Firm, Dallas US
17 – Corona Capital Competition, Mexico Metropolis, MX
2 – Maho Rasop Competition, Bangkok, TH
3 – Clockenflap Competition, Hong Kong, HK
5 – Shangri-la, Osaka, JP
7 – Membership Quattro, Tokyo, JP
13 – The Nick Rayns LCR, Norwich, UK
14 – Rock Metropolis, Nottingham , UK
15 – O2 Academy, Glasgow, UK
16 – O2 Apollo, Manchester, UK
17 – Northumbria College, Newcastle, UK
19 – Mandela Corridor, Belfast, UK
20 – Vicar Road, Dublin, IE
22 – Invisible Wind Manufacturing facility, Liverpool, UK
23 – O2 Academy, Bristol, UK
25 – The Dome, Brighton, UK
27 – Eventim Apollo, London, UK
4 – Stereolux, Nantes, FR
5 – Cabaret Sauvage, Paris, FR
6 – Rock Faculty Barbey, Bordeaux, FR
8 – LAV, Lisbon, PT
9 – Mon, Madrid, ES
11 – La 2, Barcelona, ES
12 – Le Transbordeur, Lyon, FR
13 – Locomotiv Membership, Bologna, IT
14 – Santeria Toscana 31, Milan, IT
16 – Mascotte, Zurich, CH
17 – Muffathalle, Munich, DE
18 – Festsaal Kreuzberg, Berlin, DE
20 – Slaktkyrkan, Stockholm, SE
24 – Uebel & Gefährlich, Hamburg, DE
25 – Paradiso Foremost Corridor, Amsterdam, NL
26 – Doornroosje, Nijmegen,NL
27 – Kantine, Cologne, DE
28 – Les Nuits Botanique, Brussels, BE
30 – Stomach Up Tavern, Solana Seaside, CA
31 – The Regent Theater, Los Angeles, CA
1 – Pappy and Harriet’s, Pioneertown, CA
3 – The Catalyst Atrium, Santa Cruz, CA
4 – The Unbiased, San Francisco, CA
6 – Mississippi Studios, Portland, OR
7 – Rickshaw Theatre, Vancouver, BC
8 – Crocodile, Seattle, WA
3 – Millennium Sq., Leeds, UK
- December 10, 2023
- December 10, 2023
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