Yucca King was formed in 2016 in New York City. After years of working through influences ranging from Primus and the Talking Heads to Tom Waits and Radiohead, YK have cemented a sound and ethos of angular, irreverent rock.
Please list all of your band members and their roles in the band.
Jay Williams - Drums and red hair
John Fraze - Bass and bass solo
Danny Weiss - Guitar and dad hats
Greg Arent - Vocals and pecs
For starters, how long has the band been around? Have you been a part of other band/projects before or ongoing as well Yucca King?
The band actually just celebrated a big three-year anniversary. We've really come a long way in three years, sound and skill included. Before Yucca King, Greg spent his nights screaming into a pillow while Danny & Jay were waiting to find the right musicians to get a working project off the ground with. I was in a jam band called The Lappes, who had just stopped playing, before finding the other guys on Craigslist (no murder!) when we became Yucca King.
What’s the origin of the band name?
As I remember it, we were standing outside of JC Studios in Jersey City after a practice and talking about some yucca fries Danny had recently had for dinner. We threw around a few names- King Yucca, Yucca King, and likely some other variations on nonsense. We found out Yucca King was actually a big deal Quarter Horse in the 50's and we settled on that name a bit later. You'll see that some of our symbolism from the last album was based around the horse, that's where that all came from.
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs - overall, or within your new release?
One thing that we all love about being part of Yucca King is that we come together as a group to write songs. Sometimes someone brings a riff or we jam it live in the rehearsal space, but it's always a collaborative operation. Greg even tends to start lyrical ideation on the spot while the rest of the band loops a chorus or verse. We're all principal songwriters. Greg's lyrics come from a place we're all familiar with - the experience and anxiety of being a relatively young America professional trying to reconcile vices and the influence of conflicting personal ideologies. This has been a thread that ties all of our songs together when the musicality itself might vary significantly.
What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
I think musical influence is something that's always been confusing for the band. Between the four of us, you'll hear that we're listening to Every Time I Die, Wilco, Tom Waits, or Phish on a given day. We cover DEVO, Soundgarden, Hall and Oates, and Black Sabbath. We think we sound like an early 90's alternative band that was born a decade and a half too late to to play the first Lollapalooza or a H.O.R.D.E. tour. We bring a really unlikely combination of influences together.
Was there a particular band/artist or concert that inspired you to start a band? (Individually, or as a group?)
My inspiration to be part of a band has come a lot less from a single group or performance and more from the sum of all of the great concerts I've ever seen. From Madison Square Garden to the Stone Pony, I've always craved the energy and experience of being part of something musical that's huge and energetic. We've had a lot of great opportunities in the last few years to pack out small bars in Brooklyn and push the fire code of Piano's to the limit. It's been a inspiring experience for sure.
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, ect …
Greg probably does a lot of flexing and exercises before a show but he does that on non-show days too. Danny find his best dad hat and black shirt/pants combo. Jay gets a fresh haircut and irons his nicest v-neck. Personally, I have a beer or two and I'm ready to go. We do have one ritual as a group - it's less of a "before show" thing and more of an "after practice" thing. We all put our hands in together and choke out a lackluster "YUCCA!" We do it after every practice and show.
What has been the biggest highlight of the band’s career so far?
For me, the biggest highlight was the release show for "The Ghost of Everyone." We played at Arlene's Grocery and it was absolutely packed. I've played some full shows before, with Yucca King and other groups, but that one really left an impression on me.
If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
I think if we could put together a killer world tour this very moment we'd call up IDLES and Pissed Jeans. I can see the play bill now "A night of brutal rock music sponsored by skinned knees and vague concussions." We could do the tour in a school bus and eat hot dogs and sauerkraut for energy every morning.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
In support of our new album Popcorn, but also House Fire, we'll be playing a set of run of shows this weekend - May 2 at O’Briens Pub in Boston, May 3 at Arlene’s Grocery in NYC (our release show!), May 4 at 33 Golden Street in New London, CT and May 5 at The Fire in Philadelphia!