Thursday, August 21, 2008

After this, I am never bringing up Will Yates again.*

I needed to get this over with. Will Yates: I mention him in about 2/3rd of my blog posts. Enough is enough. I decided it was time to just do an interview with him, so in the future, I won't have to mention him anymore because everything you need to know about him will be in this entry. *Unless he decides to start another band, or join another band, or writes a musical or something.

I caught him on Gchat and asked if wouldn't mind doing an interview. He agreed, but he had just thought of a song idea and needed to record it real quick. Damn. Of course he has a song idea. And of course he is just going to record it real quick. So, here is everything you need to know about Will Yates, sort of.

Will: ok here i am
Elle: hah! I will be right back, and have to take a call. It was my mom.
Elle: Sorry about that.

Will: no prob

Elle: So, what was the first instrument you picked up?
Will: Piano. I was banging on the family piano from a young age, and started lessons when I was 5.
Elle: How many other instruments would you say you are proficient at playing now?
Will: I would say I'm also proficient at the guitar and bass guitar.
Elle: I'd have to agree with that.
Will: heh
Elle: Although, I think I would say you are little more than just proficient at it.

Elle: Do you think you could estimate how many different bands you have been in/toured with/guested on albums for/etc?

Will: I've been a full-time member of 4 bands. My high-school band was called Superautomatic. Then I was in the Singles for about 4 years. Now I'm in the Pop Project and Zoos of Berlin.
Will: I'm playing guest keyboards in Javelins these days. I've done tours (longer than one or two dates) with The Singles and Javelins.
Will: I've guested on maybe 6 albums, only within the last year or two.
Elle: Impressive.
Will: As far as I can remember.
Elle: Hah!
Will: Ha, I'm not trying to show off.
Elle: I didn't think you were! Riiiiiiiiiight.

Elle: I must admit, one of my favorite songs off "Stars of Stage and Screen" is "Never Got the Breaks." You are a good songwriter. What are your influences?
Elle: Or "who" rather...
Will: Well, early on, the two big albums for me were Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream and Radiohead's OK Computer. Those heavily informed the first few years of my songwriting. But then I got into Sloan. Between the Bridges and Navy Blues had a huge effect on my songwriting; I started writing songs in that style. SRSLY? Smashing Pumpkins?
Will: When I joined The Pop Project in 2003, I was still heavy into Sloan, and I was very excited to be joining a band that had a sound similar to what I was writing and that would let me contribute some songs.
Will: The music for "Never Got The Breaks" was written in 2003 or 2004 and the lyrics were written in 2005. I haven't written something that sounds like that in a while.
Elle: How does the songwriting process work with a band like The Pop Project? Do you come in with a completed song, or just the main parts, and then go from there?
Will: There are three of us writing songs in The Pop Project. We pretty much bring in completed songs and teach them to the rest of the band. There's some editing that goes on; we might try new countermelodies, or a new tempo, or something like that. Of the three, I'd say that I try the hardest to get the band to play the song like it sounds in my head and not change anything. When I write songs in the future for the band, I'm going to try to leave more wiggle room, so it becomes more of a band effort.
Elle: But you are the best songwriter ever. They will just mess shit up. Kidding, dudes, you are awesome too.
Will: You seem to be taking a page from fivethreedialtone's interview style. ; )
Elle: Oh no you di'nt!
Elle: hah, yeah, actually he is my hero.

I was apparently drunk when I wrote this.
Will: No, they won't mess shit up. Everyone in The Pop Project is phenomenally talented, and from the point of view of the average listener, they'd probably rather listen to a song that everyone in the band had some input on. I think those songs end up being more interesting.
Will: There's always the danger of writing by committee, but I think that everyone in The Pop Project is zany enough, and we're generally on the same page about things, that we don't ever compromise ourselves into making boring choices for our songs.


Elle: What else do you do besides write amazing songs and play in awesome bands?
Will: I recently got a job booking the Elbow Room in Ypsilanti, as you know.
Elle: How is that going for you? It seems like a lucrative gig. I'm not trying to be smarmy, I really love the Elbow Room.
Will: Beyond spending a few hours a day on that, I try to focus all my time on advancing my career in music. The Elbow Room job is going well. I've never booked a venue before, so there's a steep learning curve. I feel like I'm still learning something important every day, and hopefully getting better at it. I would not call it an incredibly lucrative pursuit. It's helping me maintain my current lifestyle, but it's not enough to move out of my parents' house. Of course, to be fair, it shouldn't be, because it's not a full-time job.

Elle: Do you have any favorite local bands at the moment that you are not involved in?
Will: Well, I would say that Great Lakes Myth Society is probably my favorite. Their two albums, especially the first one, are pretty much the best albums I'm aware of from local musicians (other than the ones I had a hand in, of course, heh heh).
Elle: Niiiice.
Will: Come to think of it, I have a minor backing vocal part on the second GLMS album. Damn.
Elle: So that doesn't count. You have to think of another band that you like.
Will: Damn. HAHA
Elle: Come on! It can't be that hard!
Will: Haha, I'm trying to think of who my favorite is though.
Elle: Take your time.
I could have sworn ten minutes went by. He was probably trying to figure out which band he hasn't been in.
Will: I guess I'll have to say Deastro. One of his songs, though I don't know what it's called, is constantly stuck in my head. I really like The Word Play. I don't if that counts since we're on the same label and we're friends. I didn't play a note on their album though.
Oh, The Wordplay, *droooool*
Elle: It kind of counts.

Elle: How did the tour with Javelins go?
Will: I've done two tours with Javelins in the last few months. Those have been a lot of fun; they're basically vacations. I really like the Javelins dudes a lot personally, and I think the fact that I'm not in a band full-time with them means that I always can enjoy hanging out with them without worrying about business or feeling like we're spending too much time together.
Elle: That sounds like fun.
Will: The last tour we did was with the band Colour Revolt, so that was like double the fun hanging out with that many awesome dudes.
Elle: I am going to find a way to tour with them.
Will: You may have to bring your own car.
Elle: haha.
Will: The van's generally pretty full when we're riding in it.
Javelins are apparently fatties.


Elle: How did you feel about the photo comparison I did of you and Ian Curtis?
Will: A few people have noticed that before.
Elle: Oh, well then.
Elle: I am sure they didn't go as far as doing a photo comparison on their blog.
Elle: Or has that been done already too?
Will: One time, I thought up the word "guitarded", and I thought I was so clever, but now you can see that there are 63,400 Google hits for the word "guitarded".
Way to not answer my last question!
Elle: That's sad. You should have copyrighted that.
Will: Trademarked.
Will: Correcting people, something I do.
Elle: Damnit. DAMNIT!
Will: But don't necessarily feel good about.
Elle: It's ok, I do that as well. It's always refreshing to get corrected by someone else. I need to be taken down a peg or two sometimes.
Will: Haha, but you're the writer.
Elle: Whatevs. I am just a blogger. According to Deep Cutz Charlie, there is a HUGE difference. *shakes fist at Deep Cutz' "blog"
Will: Hmm. Maybe blogspot should make people read "The Elements of Style" before they can have an account.
Elle: That's probably a good idea.

Elle: What are your favorite pizza toppings? Hard-hitting journalism!
Will: pepperoni, onions and pineapple are my top three. If a pizza has one of those, it's off to a good start.
Elle: I am not a fan of pineapple on pizza. But I can respect your choice. NOT! that's sick.
Will: You know, I didn't used to think I was, and then (to get all scene for a second) Eric Stollsteimer gave me a slice of ham and pineapple at the Lager House once, and I was like "Whoa! This is good!"
Elle: Name dropping! Awesome! BONUS SCENE POINTS FOR NAMING A STOLLSTEIMER!
Will: Ha, the makings of a good blog post.

Elle: Where did you go to school? Did you go to college?
Will: I went to the Detroit Waldorf School for grade school, Cranbrook for high school and U of M for college.
Elle: What did you get your degree in?
Will: Philosophy!
Elle: Wow! I took some philosophy classes. We should talk sometime. About philosophy stuff.
Will: Oof.
That can't be good
Elle: I will probably just sit there and stare at you like I am confused, though.
Will: I was never very good at becoming an expert on any philosophers. I just think about right and wrong a lot.
Elle: How so? Examples?
Will: Well, in the news there are all kinds of stories about people hurting and killing each other. I think a lot about whether there are steps that can be taken to get people to cut this out, and what those steps might be.
Elle: I spend quite a bit of time thinking about that too.
Will: Hm, maybe everyone does.
Way to make me not feel stupid about saying something so completely obvious.
Elle: Probably.
Will: The thing about philosophy is that you keep ending up back at the most basic questions.
Elle: So true. *staring blankly at computer screen*
Will: But if you take the scientific approach, you have to give up being able to say that people "should" do this or "shouldn't" do that.
Will: The other option is religion, but I am not religious.
Elle: Would you consider yourself an atheist then?
Will: I say I'm an agnostic, because I don't spend any time advocating against the idea of a God. I think the universe is so insane and incomprehensible that even our concept of there being a "God" doesn't begin to explain it.
Elle: That's deep, sir. Whoa.
Will: Thanks.
Elle: You're welcome.
Will: A few years ago I read "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene, which is about the current state of how physics views the universe, and I came away thinking that a true understanding of the universe and why it's here and all that is way, way beyond our current grasp.
Elle: I think I've been a little too nice to you in this interview.
Elle: That's definitely not fivethreedialtone style.

Will: I did an interview with fivethreedialtone a while back; I don't recall him being particularly mean.
Elle: He is mean to me. Maybe it's just me, though.
Will: He does do leading questions to try to get you say bad things about others, though.
Duh, he's a blogger. And he is from Detroit.
Will: I'm sorry if he's mean to you.
Elle: It's ok... I'll be fine. *sobbing quietly*

Elle: What are your top three favorite albums of all-time? What about at the moment?
Will: I'd say for all time it's the albums I mentioned having an effect on my songwriting: Siamese Dream, OK Computer, and Between the Bridges. I got obsessed with each of those and they had a big effect on me. For the last few years, I'd say my favorites are Brian Wilson's Smile (the recent version), Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker ballet, and a Beatles album (let's say Sgt. Pepper's).

Elle: What do you love about Michigan?
Will: Well, I probably love Michigan because I grew up here, I'm used to the lifestyle, and a lot of my friends and some family are here. I enjoy going up north; much of the state is very pretty. I'm proud of the musical heritage here, and I hope to keep that going in some small way.

Elle: What do you hate about Michigan?
Will: I don't really hate anything about Michigan, but I wish that the state had more opportunities for the creative class. Economically, I think that should be part of the replacement for the decline of manufacturing, and I think it's a reason why several of my friends have left the state. I'm sorry that the national perception of Michigan is probably a negative one, with Michigan's poor economy and with Detroit's various troubles. I think that more boosting up needs to be done of schools like Wayne State and CCS, to make Detroit more of a viable option for young creative class types. Right now it's cool to move to Chicago or New York, and it's not very cool to move to Detroit, and I think an answer to that problem is part of the solution for bringing Michigan back. Also, the winters are a little long here.

Indeed, they are...

Everybodys Moving Out Of Michigan - Will Yates


6 comments:

Quillen said...

This was quite an interesting interview, Elle. Thank you for sharing it.

"A true understanding of the universe and why it's here and all that is way, way beyond our current grasp." - Amen, Will.

Elle said...

Thanks for reading!!!

Greg said...

It's sad that the final answer of this interview illustrates the previous post. Also, Will is no longer allowed to be a part of any GLMS record if he can no longer name drop us. Wait...that's a bad idea, isn't it?

Elle said...

Ha! I'd have to say that your records are good, with or without the Yates, but I wouldn't want to make the Yates angry.

And yes, it really is sad how that worked out.

Angela said...

The Smashing Pumpkins are important, Elle! They are important and amazing. Also, Will is a gentleman and a scholar for passing down to me The Aeroplane Flies High. Interview bonus points.

Elle said...

nooooooooo, Angela. NOOOOOOOO!
It's already bad enough that my future roommate wants to put up a framed poster of a Smashing Pumpkins album cover in our living room. I am allowing it because I understand that there needs to be some balance in this crazy world, i.e. I hate them so someone must love them.
Thanks for the interview bonus points. I am keeping track of these.