Q&A with Nick Niespodziani of Y-O-U, Yacht Rock and More — Playing Smith’s Olde Bar on July 25

YOULongPlayingEP By Leila Regan-Porter

If there ain't no rest for the wicked, then the lads of PleaseRock (the umbrella that covers Y-O-U,The Yacht Rock Review, The Tupperware Party, Rock Fight, 3 Dog Stevens and other rock aliases) are the most wicked rockers out there. While trying to keep up with the runaway success of The Yacht Rock Review, which covers music of that smooth time in the '70s, their original-music project Y-O-U has managed to find time to test some new tunes in front of the crowds and record them for a new record, The Long-Playing EP, so called because there will be a good handful of older tracks (from their self-titled record, Everything Is Shifting and Flashlights) accompanying the four new tracks. Think of it as an Introduction to Y-O-U.

And for those more familiar with the band, as well as being able to expect the same high standard of excellent pop songs we all come to expect from Y-O-U, there is also a new sound creeping in, with soulful horns, a slight alt-country sound a la Gram Parsons, and a southern wholesomeness. But above all, the new tracks are solid pop treasures that would fit anywhere from a college radio station to a top 40 countdown, winning everyone over with the band's tight playing and classic song-writing.

We spoke to lead singer Nick Niespodziani as he prepares for the record's release at Smith's Olde Bar on July 25 (tickets available here).

Tell me about the EP, why you decided to do it as five
new songs and eight bonus songs from previous works.

It just kinda happened I guess. We recorded a whole album
of late-‘60s Memphis soul style music – we were doing a thing called the Blues
Rock Review – and we recorded that whole record, and it got to the end, and I
was trying to sing it, and it wasn’t really working. It worked well live, I
thought, but it didn’t really come across when we put it down on a record. We went
to my friend Ben, Ben Allen [Gnarls Barkley, producer for Gringo Star, Judi Chicago] , who produced this stuff, and we played him the
stuff and we were like, “What should we do with this?” and he said we should
just record some other sounds [laughs].

So we ended up doing one with him to try, and we liked it so
we did a couple more and we wanted to put out some new music because it had
been so long since we had done something, we’d already kinda started and
stopped another couple of records, so we decided just to put these out. We’re
going to take the first three songs from the EP and we’re going to make an LP,
continuing in that vein, which will come out next year. On vinyl! I’ve never
done a vinyl before and our keyboard player Mark is the biggest vinyl junkie –
he has a whole room in his house full of records. And I’ve always wanted to
have a record. I’m really excited about that. When I listen to music at home,
probably about 75 percent of the time I listen to records.

How did you decide on the songs that came from previous
work?

In choosing those songs, we wanted to choose the ones
that had the most in common with the new stuff that we’re doing. We’re reaching
a lot of new people through the other projects that we’re doing, like Yacht
Rock, and we wanted to give them a taste of all the different things that we’ve
done, and hopefully get them interested in the band in general. We’ve been
talking a lot lately – last year Yacht Rock had gotten just so out of control,
we’ve just been trying to keep up with it to the point that Y-O-U wasn’t able
to get as much of our attention as we would have liked in terms of performing
and recording. We’ve been writing songs and being creative but we haven’t had a
forum to put it out. The EP is like the first step in recommitting ourselves to
making a lot more time for that. Because now we have the Yacht Rock, we know
what we’re doing now, we have our business together, so we can refocus.

As far as juggling all these different projects, has it
gotten easier in the past year or so?

It was really hard at first, and it was also
psychologically hard because Yacht Rock got so popular. And Y-O-U has always
done well but it was never as popular as Yacht Rock is. And so coming to terms
with being successful in something that isn’t an original project took us a
little bit of time. It’s kind of like finding your place in the world, being
comfortable with Yacht Rock and realizing that it’s going to enable us to do
what we want to do instead of looking at it like something that is taking away
from what we want to do. Because it doesn’t take away any more than if we were
bartenders or worked for an insurance company or whatever other day job it
might be.

Do you see any of the side projects falling off in the
foreseeable future or do you intend to keep them going?

We’ll keep them going. It’s really just a function of
time and what we’re passionate about. We’re probably most passionate about
Y-O-U because it’s our own music and our time, economically, is most
efficiently spent on Yacht Rock, so those two things are probably going to be
getting the majority of our attention. I think we’re still going to be doing
videos and we’re still going to be doing comedy and things like that when we
can.

You recently debuted another 3 Dog Stevens video, is that
right?

We have one webisode that is out, and one that’s coming,
and then we have a third one kind of written, in as much as we plan things
ahead, we just have to film it. We’re going to record a version of “Carry On My
Wayward Son,” but we’re gonna call it “Carry Segwayward Son,” and we’re going
to go on a Segway Tour and then we’re going to go to the Museum of Patriotism.

Does the museum know about all of this?

No, no, no, no – more than likely I don’t even know if
we’ll be able to get in with a camera. The likely goal would be to get kicked
out.

That’s a good goal to have.

We’ve had that planned for a while, but finding time to
do it is so difficult because we’ve been so busy with the other things.

How did the PleaseRock The Yacht event turn out? Did you
manage to convert a lot of Yacht Rock fans to Y-O-U fans?

I don’t know. That was the goal of it, but terms of our
business and our approach we’re still figuring out how to help people make that
jump, because it’s easy to like a cover band where you know every word to every
song, it’s much more difficult to take that leap to being into original music.
Unless you’re in one of the scenes in Atlanta,
like the Lenny’s scene or The EARL scene, or whatever it is, it’s not like the
general population of Atlanta is that supportive of original music. Not that it’s a bad original music town,
it’s just they’re just not programmed in their heads to do that. And so helping
the average Yacht Rock fan make that jump is something we’re still trying to
figure out.

The thing with Yacht Rock is people definitely love the
music but I think one of the things that’s really made it stick is the
personality of it, the characters – and that’s us, that’s not a cover band,
we’ve always been kind of arrogant, we’ve always been kind of funny, those
aren’t things that are unique to Yacht Rock, in terms of all of our other
personalities and I think that helping people make the connection that it’s the
same guys is what we’re trying to do.

Do you do any slightly unusual merchandising for Yacht
Rock or Y-O-U or any other PleaseRock ventures?

A: We have captain’s hats and sailors hats. We’ve been sold
out of the hats for a couple of weeks. We just make a massive order of hats
because we just sell so freakin’ many of them. It’s an anomaly – the
manufacturers of captain’s hats are going to look at their demographics and
think, “What the fuck is going on in Atlanta?!” 

Y-O-U plays Smith's Olde Bar with Hightide Blues on July 25. Tickets are available here.

Comments

  1. Nick was kind enough to let me here a few of the songs from this record and they are fantastic.

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