The Yawpers: From melancholy folk to aggressive rock ’n’ roll

by DGO Web Administrator

The Yawpers’ 2015 Bloodshot Records release “American Man” turned up on more knowledgeable critics’ best-of lists nationwide. With good reason, as it remains a rock ’n’ roll record in its truest sense, a lineage of blues and country reeking of aggression and dripping with sweat. It’s a record that’s thought -provoking, driving with energy and flat out fun on a lyrical and musical level. The album is also an accurate reflection of their live show, a brash, loud and in-your-face performance with plenty of power chords and a few screams mixed among great rock ’n’ roll music. The Denver band, made up of Nate Cook, Jesse Parmet and Noah Shomberg, will perform Oct. 22 at The Balcony Backstage. Opening the show is rock band 4 On the Floor.

A lot of music fans, be it a critic, watcher of YouTube or someone vaguely paying attention to independent radio, tend to generalize a band based on sight before listening. If you see acoustic guitars, you may assume owners of said guitars are going to play some form of whispy-folk, a hushed delivery of sensitive lyrics about a river or mountain over quiet finger-picking; but that’s not always the case, as an acoustic guitar does not always equal Simon and Garfunkel or Gordon Lightfoot. With the Yawpers, you’ll get a bass-less, much-amplified set of acoustic guitars and lots of drums. The Yawpers have at one point or another been described as an “acoustic-folk duo,” because that’s where they began, yet it’s an inaccurate description of where they are now. The music they make, which is as influenced as much by Hank Williams or Jason and the Scorchers as it is by The MC5 or Black Flag, is anything but the folk heard at festivals.

“We started as a kind of a weekly folk duo at a little bar in Boulder. We added a drummer, moved to Denver, and hit the road for the subsequent three years. There’s nothing super exciting about our history; I wish there was. It’s more the blue collar sort of history; we showed up, we worked hard and now are still working hard,” said Cook. “When we started, it was two acoustic guitars and me singing melancholy sort of horse-shit songs just to try and tug at my own heart, because I didn’t have one at the time. Then we developed into a really aggressive rock ’n’ roll band.”

Before this tour, The Yawpers had been in Chicago recording their follow-up to “American Man.” With their label being Chicago’s Bloodshot Records, the trio took to the windy city and Hi-STYLE Studios, a studio known for recording roots music. “It’s a smaller studio, a home studio. J.D. McPherson did his second-to-last album here, it’s a rockabilly, ’50s-driven sort of studio, but we wanted to come make a punk rock record here,” said Cook. Look for this release to be a reflection of the styles that has influenced rock music since Day 1, with aggression and a humble, snotty swagger typical of The Yawpers.

“I do love punk rock, I love rock ’n’ roll, I love country music. Obviously I’m across the board,” said Cook. “We wanted to make a really aggressive record in a studio that wasn’t designed for it.”

Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. [email protected].


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