Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner has a pretty high opinion of his band's new album, Show Your Bones.
"It's better than Internet porn," he laughed. "Well, maybe not."
Solid praise, indeed. And though he's only joking (we think), Zinner's irreverent attitude toward March 28's Bones is pretty refreshing considering just what is riding on the album.
The YYYs' label, Interscope, has made it a huge priority, keeping the album under airtight security (no copies were sent to reviewers, for fear it would leak online) and throwing some serious cash into a glossy video for the first single, "Gold Lion" (see "Make No Bones About It: Yeah Yeah Yeahs Confirm LP Release Date, Preview Gigs"). And for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bones represents a chance to establish themselves as that rarest of species: the constantly cool, commercially successful rock act.
Which, of course, they couldn't care less about.
"We're just kind of on the periphery of everything. What we do is what we do," singer Karen O explained. "We don't have people write our songs for us or have people create an image for us, we just do what we do. And sometimes things overlap a bit, and we find ourselves at, like, the MTV Movie Awards and we see Jennifer Love Hewitt on the red carpet and it's weird."
Of course, the YYYs' last album, Fever to Tell, made things overlap a whole lot. Spurred by the surprise success of "Maps," it sold more than 525,000 copies and officially thrust them into the mainstream. And for a band that worked hard at avoiding the mainstream, it was muy disorienting. So when it came time to begin work on the follow-up to Fever, the trio wanted to get as far away from their success as possible.
"We had to work on distancing ourselves from Fever, and the first thing we had to do was to take some time off, to kind of remember what it feels like to have a normal life again," drummer Brian Chase said. "We had to be able to put those experiences in the past and reflect on them. Once that was done, we were able to start looking forward."
"We were able to get into a different place, and we were able to start at a different level. I mean, it's kind of useless to be afraid of what's already happened," O laughed. "The writing process was pretty different. The first song we wrote was 'Gold Lion.' Brian jammed out on drums for an hour, and the melody just kind of popped in. The whole thing was a lot more 'studio' than anything we've done."
And "Lion" — with its pounding percussion and strummed acoustics — is fairly indicative of Bones, which O described to MTV News last year as being "YYY campfire sing-alongs" (see "Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O Tackles Folk Music, Porn"). It's frequently mentioned by the band as being a favorite on the album, along with tunes like "Dudley," "The Sweets" and "Cheated Hearts," and the video — directed by Yeahs pal Patrick Daughters — is epic, beautiful and a bit messy. Kind of like the YYYs' rise to fame.
Which is probably why they like it so much. Or maybe not.
"We all wanted Patrick to do it, because he's such a good friend, and it's easy to work with him. Originally the concept was ashes-to-ashes, but then it sort of changed to from-ashes-to-all-consuming-fire," O explained. "The whole thing was great, but we had to film it a whole bunch of different ways over many, many hours, really early in the morning."
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs tour dates, according to the band's label:
- 4/3 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
- 4/5 - Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero
- 4/7 - Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre
- 4/10 - Toronto, ON @ Kool Haus
- 4/11 - Royal Oak, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
- 4/12 - Cleveland, OH @ Agora Theatre
- 4/14 - Chicago, IL @ Riviera
- 4/15 - Milwaukee, WI @ Riverside Theatre
- 4/16 - Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
- 4/18 - Omaha, NE @ Sokol Auditorium
- 4/19 - St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
- 4/21 - Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium
- 4/22 - Salt Lake City, UT @ University of Utah
- 4/24 - Vancouver, BC @ Orpheum Theatre
- 4/25 - Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theatre
- 4/26 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Ballroom
- 4/28 - San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
- 4/30 - Indio, CA @ Coachella Music & Arts Festival
- 5/2 - New York, NY @ Roseland Ballroom