Yuck make their Twin Cities debut tonight at the Varsity Theater

Categories: Interview
When Jonny Rogoff answers the phone from London, one thing stands out: he sounds like a kid. Even when he's tucked in behind his drum kit during one of Yuck's concerts--his large afro bobbing gently to the rhythm of the music, a fuzzy beard lining his chin--he looks like a shy, baby-faced version of Questlove. But to hear him speak, you realize just how young he is.

Yuck, a four-piece from England, have garnered a fair amount of attention in a relatively short period of time. After first getting noticed for the sunny, hazed-out single "Georgia" last summer, they released their self-titled full-length last winter to largely positive reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. For guitarists and founding members Daniel Blumberg and Max Bloom it's already their second go-around, having experienced some modest success with their previous band, Cajun Dance Party. What's more, most of the band members are still under 20.

"It's been really cool," Rogoff says nervously, trying to contain his enthusiasm. His voice is high and wavering, his words slightly mumbled as he occasionally rushes some of his thoughts. "You try not to really read reviews or read anything that can alter the way you go about things because you just want to put your head down, do what you do without being effected by outside things."

For Rogoff, the experience has been more of an adventure than for the rest of his bandmates, as he's originally from New Jersey but picked up and moved to England in order to play with the band.

Milkshake by Yuck

"I didn't really over-think it. I had just started college and obviously music was something I'd rather be focusing on," comes the explanation, nonchalantly, of his decision to join Yuck in the U.K. "The weirdest thing was I'd never been to London before, so I didn't know what to expect." Rogoff, after all, was no stranger to traveling the globe: He was living abroad in Israel for a year (first in Jerusalem, then Tel Aviv) when he met a visiting Blumberg in the desert through a mutual friend. "Six months later," he recalls, Blumberg "sent me an email and then he ended up just inviting me over because they needed a drummer to complete the lineup."

The band already visited the U.S. over the winter touring in support of the Smith Westerns, but this is their first time headlining--and their first time in the Twin Cities. All the same, they have a reputation that precedes them. Critics have eagerly compared their scuzzy, guitar-heavy indie rock and slackerish vibe to the likes of Dinosaur Jr. and Teenage Fanclub, sidling them with such regrettable labels as "throwbacks" and "revivalists." Others, meanwhile, not buying into the hype, figure that Yuck's sometimes meandering tunes are too featureless to be worthy of such heady comparisons.

Rogoff is philosophical on the matter. "We don't have a problem with [those comparisons] because if you're going to be compared to something it's good to be compared to something you like," he says, trailing off a bit at the end as he lets out a chuckle. "You don't try to make it like anything; it just sort of happens naturally. I hope I don't sound like an idiot when I say 'organic,' but you do what you do."

All things being equal, the members of Yuck are young enough that they have plenty of time to develop their sound, in which case Rogoff's let's-not-get-ahead-of-ourselves approach is refreshing and even surprisingly mature. Nonetheless, with a new single, "Milkshake," released at the beginning of the month and more new material set to be debuted on tour, they don't seem content to waste too much time.

"We didn't go in and try to make something that sounded quite similar," Rogoff adds hurriedly, as if the thought has struck him suddenly. His diction momentarily picks up a bizarrely British pattern. "The album tends to vary a lot, but that was just because those were the songs we had. This album was more of a good collection of songs over a certain period of time rather than songs that were put together to make a whole-sounding album." He pauses for a moment, mulling the matter over in his head. "Maybe in the future that will come through differently."

YUCK perform tonight with Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Young Man at the VARSITY THEATER. 18+. $12 advance / $14 at the door. 7 p.m. doors.

Yuck - Shook Down from Yuck on Vimeo.


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