Photo | peteyorn.com, by Jim Wright
Band: Pete Yorn
Date: Friday, Dec. 6 with doors at 6:30 p.m.
Venue: Soul Kitchen, 219 Dauphin St., soulkitchenmobile.com
Tickets: $22.50 – $47.50 available through venue’s website, at Mellow Mushroom or by calling 866-77-8932
Pete Yorn will be using Soul Kitchen’s stage to make his latest appearance in the Azalea City, as well as showcase new material in the live setting. This innovative singer-songwriter has taken his music beyond the acoustic guitar and into the world of indie rock. Yorn will be performing tracks from his 20-year career and cuts from his latest album, “Caretakers,” released on his Shelly Music label.
This artist found a productive creative environment within Jackson Phillips’ ( of indie rock band, Day Wave) studio that allowed music and lyrics to flow freely from his mind. Yorn’s creative bond with Phillips was so strong that he will be using Day Wave as his backing band for this round of live shows. Lagniappe Weekly’s Steve Centanni asked Yorn about his behind-the-scenes experience with this album as well as what to expect from this show.
Steve Centanni: “Caretakers” was released on your personal label. What were the benefits of taking that route with this release?
Pete Yorn: The benefits are that technology has finally caught up to that whole concept, you know? I have nothing but gratitude for all the labels that I’ve been on and supported me and helped get my music up for 20-something years. When it came time to make this record, I didn’t even know that I was making a record. I started making music, because it was fun. I also had some things that I wanted to address in my own mind.
I remember sitting with someone who’s in the industry and I respect a lot. He said, “Well, it’s different. Nowadays, to distribute globally, all you have to do is press a button.” In five minutes, your music is out everywhere. It was a pretty big thing to think about. I know that people have been able to do that for a few years now in different ways. We had the resources now. We could put a team together to do exactly what the labels do. It’s a little more for us to handle on our end.
At the end of the day, I don’t think anyone is going to be as loyal to this project as we are. It’s been good. There’s been some challenges as far as getting the word out in certain ways and certain areas. That was a learning curve, for sure. Having our own control has been very fruitful for the project.
Centanni: You brought in Jackson Phillips to work on this one. How did you two cross paths?
Yorn: We met at a birthday party in September or October of 2017. He had been on my radar, and I had been on his radar. He grew up with an older sister who was into my music. She used to play it a lot in the car when he was a kid. So, he knew who I was. I was into what he was doing. We met pretty late night at this party in Malibu, California, and just hit it off. Sometimes you meet someone and it’s easy, because right away you have a lot in common. You talk to them and see the world in a similar way. I remember late that night he mentioned that he had a studio out in Echo Park. I was like, “Yeah, man, I may show up.” The next morning, I remember waking up and my memory was a little foggy. For whatever reason, we didn’t end up getting together until maybe four months later. When we did, right away, we made this plan and was like, “Maybe, we should record an EP.” We hit it off in the studio like we did, personally. We just started recording songs.
Centanni: How would you compare your songwriting process for this album to previous ones?
Yorn: When we first started, I had a few songs kinda worked up from the previous few months. We used those as a jumping-off point. After four songs, we decided to start writing songs together in the studio. That was a whole different thing. I still wrote the lyrics, but for the most part, we came up with the arrangements and music together. It was such a great back and forth. Each idea that one of us would bring into the fold would lead to the next idea and into the next idea. I remember likening it to a staircase covered in fog, and you can’t see the top of it. You take the first step, and the fog dissipates. It clears up the fog for the next step, and you keep going. Each step inspires the next one. It was a pretty natural vibe. We were getting together once or twice a week.
The most important thing was that he would send me an MP3 when I left for the house. It was like a 40-minute drive home. I’ve been in that position before. I’m excited about leaving the studio with a song and put it on. I listen to it for about 30 seconds and I’m like, “Meh, I can’t listen to this.” With this, something seemed interesting and inviting to me, and I liked the way that he was recording. The texture had an innocence to it that was exciting. I was interested in the music.
Centanni: When you mentioned the lyrics, I noticed that all the songs on this album seem to be addressing specific people. Are these fictional character studies for you or actual people?
Yorn: [Laughs] You know, in the past, there have been certain songs that have been inspired by films and people and characters and literature. They start from that place. This one, there was a lot of stuff going on in my personal life. A few of these songs are based on real people for sure.
Centanni: Have they figured out that they’re about them?
Yorn: I don’t think so. I don’t know. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. When they start from that place, they grow and seem to represent something bigger than the individual. It’s always a powerful place to start when you’re feeling powerful emotions from somebody.
Centanni: One thing that I think is great about music is that you have studio versions, then you take them into the live environment and it gives them new life. What’s it been like taking these songs into the live environment?
Yorn: Yeah, you nailed it, man. That’s one of the best things about music. It’s really hard to record something that stands up over repeat listening. That’s one piece of the puzzle. When you take it live, you get to kinda recreate it every night. It helps make me feel alive and the music feel alive. Something you might not have liked in the recording, you can change it live. This live band that’s backing me up now is Jackson’s band. They’ve been kind enough to be the backing band for this “Caretakers” tour. He’s playing parts that he played on the record. This band had his aesthetic to begin with. It sounds really natural. With my old songs, I let them pick what they want to play. What they bring to those old songs are really exciting, too. They feel slightly different and fresh and fun to play. It’s been really cool.
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