CAYUCAS

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- July 2015 - 

HAVE A BEER WITH CAYUCAS

No one knows summer like Santa Monica’s Zach Yudin, a man of leisure who recognizes “the epic” in something as simple as a twilight bicycle ride or a short drive up the coast. As Cayucas, Yudin has set about creating an impressionistic portrait of summer’s long, bittersweet dazzle.

An avid bird-watcher, Yudin majored in both music theory/production and Japanese. He spent a post-grad year living and teaching in Tokyo, then taking the past couple of years to hone the sound of Cayucas. He posted a couple of songs online, picking up a lot of love and attention, but it was only when he entered the studio with producer/multi-instrumentalist Richard Swift last year that Cayucas was truly defined — sun-inspired jams that touch upon The Animals, Harry Belafonte and the surfer-folk mysticism of the Northwest.

 

The Gig: Cayucas with Hibou at Lincoln Hall // Friday, July 24, 2015

Drinks of Choice: Chardonnay

 

Kristen: You traveled all the way from Minneapolis to play Lincoln Hall tonight. Are you at the mid-point of this tour?

Zach: Well, it’s a five-week tour and we’re 10 days into it.

[Laughs]

Zach: So what is that…1/5 of the way through?

Ben: Yeah, we’re at about 20 percent through…

Kristen: So…not the mid-point. Sorry to give you false hope, guys. To spin it positively, what’s the best thing about being on the road, aside from playing?

Zach: My favorite thing is actually right after playing a show…The first thing on my mind is, “Get a drink.” But the other thing that every band does when they get off-stage is that they’re so critical of the show. About the most stupid things, too. But we kind of stopped doing that.

Kristen: Has there ever been a show where you didn’t have those thoughts at all?

Zach: Oh yeah. We don’t talk about the show much afterwards anymore.

Ben: You get tired of it.

Zach: You realize it doesn’t really matter because you notice the mistakes you made that no one else did.

Kristen: And it’s already out there. There’s nothing you can do to change it.

Ben: Plus you do so many of them…you just need to stop thinking about it and being critical and just do your thing.

Kristen: Do you have a favorite venue or city that you’ve played? Either for a one-time gig or consistently?

Zach: Chicago is a really good show for us. We loved playing at Schubas. That was one of our first sold-out shows. Ever. That was summer two years ago or something. Schubas was a really cool venue. Fun audience. For some reason, Chicago has just been good to us. L.A. is probably our best city though. But we’re from there, so we tend to do better on the west coast and in California.

Ben: If I could route the perfect tour, it would be Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Austin, you know? Chicago is definitely a top choice.

Kristen: I’m glad we’re on the list. It gets really cold here, you know. You would probably regret that decision if you were coming through in the winter months.

Ben: We played here in January two years ago. It was an early show…And it was full of single guys. Keep an eye out, ladies. Our shows would be a great place for single women to meet men.

Kristen: “Hey ladies, looking for a great place to meet men?”

Zach: “Looking for a mature guy with good taste in music?” You know what…? We should do a show/mixer.

Ben: Oh man, that’s the best tour idea ever.

Kristen: A Beer with the Band would sponsor that. And provide the beer. And we would create so many couples.

Zach: We’ll just do instrumentals, too. We’re not going to play a full set.

[Laughs]

Ben: That’s a great idea.

Zach: And between each song there’s a five minute mingle period.

Ben: I’ll wear a nametag. We’re all single.

Zach: Yeah, and it’ll be good because they have the music in common if they have nothing to talk about. They’ll feel like they both know the band…And that’s a great thing, too: You can say you met the person at a concert as opposed to a bar.

Kristen: As opposed to Tinder.

Spencer: Yeah, no one wants to say that they met their significant other on one of those apps.

Kristen: I do know a few people who have had success.

Spencer: I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but…

Kristen: But you feel like you need to make up a story.

Ben: Yeah, it’s not as romantic. It’s not like a Hugh Grant movie.

Kristen: Speaking of Hugh Grant…Let’s say you have a long trip ahead. What’s your movie pick for the road? 

Zach: The one movie that I have on my computer is The Tao of Steve. It came out in 2000; it’s one of those movies that you watch and it just puts you in a good mood.

Spencer: And what about “Friends”? These guys and “Friends,” I’ll tell you…

Kristen: I have to admit, I never got into “Friends.” I’ve watched maybe an episode or two.

Ben: The perfect no-brainer is “Friends,” especially if you don’t feel like watching something serious like “Mad Men” and you want to laugh a little. It’s perfect.

Zach: One of the movies I always talk about for some reason is “Rudy,” the sports film. I don’t know why. It’s got everything you want and everything you need. It’s a motivating movie. For about five years, there was a period in my life where once a day I woulddo a “Rudy” quote. And it has a really good soundtrack.One of the bestsongs on there is called “Tryouts…”

Kristen: So it’s an original soundtrack. I’ll have to listen. What about you, Spencer?

Spencer: I think one of my favorites is “There Will Be Blood.” Daniel Day-Lewis is amazing; the soundtrack is amazing; it’s beautifully shot. And when I saw the movie I was also reading a lot and I was obsessed with Upton Sinclair, so I was reading his book “Oil.” I actually loved that book a lot. I don’t know why I loved it so much. It was very much a snapshot of America at that time…well, from what I know about America at that time. We actually watched “Whiplash” in the car on the way here.

Kristen: About the drummer, right?

Spencer: Yeah.  I’m gonna say, it’s the world’s worst movie. I’m gonna go ahead and say it right now.

Zach: I liked it. A lot of musicians don’t like it, and a lot of non-musicians do like it. People who went to music school…they think it’s a little too dramatic.

Kristen: In terms of…?

Zach: The main character was a little dramatic. He gets in a car accident and still goes on to perform…It’s melodrama essentially. Either way I think it was very well-shot and a good story to be told. Music school can be very intense.

Kristen: You guys went to music school, right?

Ben: Yeah, we did, but not until later.

Zach: Yeah, and it wasn’t “music school” per say; we were all music majors.

Kristen: How would you say your relationship with music has changed from when you first started playing to now — being in a touring band?

Zach: It has evolved so much.

Ben: The learning curve is straight up.

Zach: Yeah, it’s insane.

Ben: What I thought was interesting four years ago isn’t interesting anymore. And also your musicianship is just 5,000 times better.

Kristen: That’s what I was going to ask. Do you think the learning curve is straight up in terms of technique…or in terms of the business side of music?   

Ben: Everything music-related. I know so much more about the music industry now touring than I did spending three or four years in college learning about it. There’s so much stuff that you can’t teach. Or you could, but experience from touring and working with a label and stuff makes you learn it so much more quickly...And I see so many new bands that are asking the questions I would have asked five years ago.

Kristen: I’m sure the answers seem obvious now.

Ben: Well, it’s kind of like you have to learn it yourself. I was watching Jerry Seinfeld’s show “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,” and they asked him to teach a class on comedy, and he was like, “Why the hell would I do that? You can’t teach this.” It’s sort of the same with music. He was saying, “Anybody who shows up to that class is already going to fail…”

Spencer: Music school didn’t teach me how to be a professional musician. It taught me how to be proficient on my instrument. But how to make a living…how to manage your time and your schedule and make sure you work with people that you like…you can only learn that from doing it all the time.

Kristen: I think about that, too, when it comes to writing. You can spend all the time you want in workshop, but you really just need to be out there writing, experiencing things...

Zach: Yeah, the band that’s opening for us tonight, for example, they’re 22 or 23…and they’re doing it right. They’re just out there doing it. Some of the guys we went to school with were much better musicians than us but they’re not doing anything now.

Kristen:  When did you make that leap from “just creating music” to moving forward with music as a full-time thing?

Zach: Mentally, that happened for us a long time ago. We were in L.A. and knew we wanted to be a band…We were in that headspace.

Ben: Yeah, it comes down to perspective. You either have it or you don’t. Most people will never just do it. They’ll go to college and get a job because that’s what you’re supposed to do. But also, when you turn 25 or 26…you can’t quit. Sometimes it takes longer. You never know how long it’s going to take.

Zach: Yeah, a lot of people stop right after college or in their mid-20s or whatever…You have to be patient.

KristenAnd I think it varies with bands, too. Sometimes a band will go from zero to 60 overnight and with other bands it takes a lot of time.

Zach: That’s the hard thing I think…to continue to grind it out or not give up. It’s about all those little baby steps. There are always those freaks who are 22 years-old that will blow up.

Kristen: Would you rather have the slow grind or a quick shot to the top?

Zach: When you’re grinding it, you wish you weren’t. And you want it the other way.

Ben: But there’s more longevity when you’re grinding it.

Zach: The War on Drugs…they’ve been grinding and grinding on our label, Secretly Canadian, for seven years. Until this year. And now they’re one of the biggest bands and playing all the major festivals. And they have a loyal fan base. It’s not “here today, gone tomorrow” like I’ve seen with a lot of pop artists.

Kristen: Yeah, the longevity is important. And the loyalty that comes with it. Who are you listening to now?

Ben: Current stuff right now for me is Mac DeMarco and Tame Impala…They’re on repeat.

Zach: Usually the “easy listening” stuff is what we keep playing. Good travel music. Spencer…not so much.

Spencer: I like Mac! But…I like more pop music. Weird pop music, though, not mainstream stuff. I like the Jamie xx record.

Kristen: What’s the least rock-‘n’-roll thing you’ve done in the past week? For example, I went home last week to visit my parents and my mom packed me a lunch to bring back to the city. Inside was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bunch of zip lock bags full of stuff.

Zach: Why is it always peanut butter and jelly and fruit snacks?

Ben: Because she thinks you’re still seven.

Zach: Did she put your name on it?

Kristen: She did.

Zach: And she knew you’d eat it.

Kristen: I did. So what about you guys?

Zach: Ben got a massage – poolside – the other day.

Spencer: That’s kind of rock-‘n’-roll, actually…

Zach: In Vegas.

Ben: It was 30 bucks for 15 minutes.

Spencer: How about driving out into a cornfield to try and find a strip club…?

Zach: That’s rock-‘n’-roll though…

Spencer: But then we got there, and the door guy was like, “You don’t want to come in here.”

[Laughs]

Spencer: He straight up said, “Too many dudes.” He let us look in. That was kind of like we were building up for rock-‘n’-roll but then it was a letdown. We’re not really strip club types, either, but we were in Kansas and our waiter told us about it…

Zach: Yeah, we were like, “Eh...maybe not tonight” and Spencer said, “We HAVE to go.”

Spencer: How often do you get to go to a strip club — literally — in the middle of a CORNFIELD?

Zach: It doesn’t really sweeten the deal that much for me…But we don’t even know if it was a strip club. It was just a place where dudes were hanging out…

Spencer: And it was BYOB, which was weird.

Ben: And there was a bus outside called the “Booty Bus.”

Kristen: Where is this place?

Zach: Outside of Lawrence, Kansas. Aside from that, though, we drink a lot more wine probably than most bands.

Kristen: Red or white?

Zach: Chardonnay all the way.We really enjoy the finer things when we’re touring. We were just in Miami, for example. Spencer brought the ice and I brought the wine, and we were just floating down the lazy river with our iced wine.  I was like, “What band does this?” As you get older, you just turn into a dork.

Kristen: Nothing better than a glass of wine after a long work day. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Ben: Back in the day I was an intern and I worked at a record label, and the radio guy there had a motto. It was, “You gotta have fun.” He was probably about 50 or 55. He always said, “You guys know my motto. You gotta have fun.”He was someone who tried to get the music on the radio…He was the one calling to get the songs…like a salesperson almost.

Kristen: I feel like you have to have that attitude if that’s your job.

Ben: Yeah, for sure.

Zach: And you have to have that attitude when you’re on tour, too. It can get stressful.

Ben: That’s really the only quote from someone that I remember.

Zach: I like that because you can apply it. You know... “Live today like it’s your last…” isn’t really applicable in our case.

[Laughs]

Kristen: “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.”

Zach: You like that one?

Kristen: No, I hate that one.

Spencer: Yeah, that’s a quote that would be on something you’d buy at Crate N Barrel.

Kristen: As a band, let’s say you had to come up with a band philosophy or mantra, what would it be?

Zach: Something along the lines of, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” I hate that cliché phrasing, but there are so many things that can go wrong in a band. When you’ve been doing this for three or four years, you realize everything is going to resolve itself.  Everything works out. You have to have your priorities straight.

Ben: You see so many bands nitpicking the tiniest things and taking forever when they’re making a record or deciding on who the bass player should be or who should mix the album. And you just have to release music. You just have to keep making music. When you’re so slow to make a decision, it can hurt you. You just have to frickin’ do it.

Zach I know bands that are still trying to figure out what the title of their EP should be. And they were talking about that a year-and-a-half go.

Ben: They’re just a little apprehensive and they’re not confident in their music or their art.

Zach: This is a Vin Diesel quote, but someone asked him what the best advice he ever received was…Everyone else would say, “Follow your heart, follow your dreams,” and all of that. He said, “Have a product.” Ninety-five percent of the artists I meet in L.A., they have nothing to show for it. They say, “I’m a writer working on a book”; “I’m a film director and I’m working on my reel”; “I’m musician working on a record…” You have to excavate something. And if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t work out. But you have to try.

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