While recording his third and potentially final album, Pete Yorn found inspiration in Elvis Presley, David Bowie and ... Tupac?
"I had seen this Tupuc documentary, and he just kept recording like he felt like he might die," Yorn recalled. "I don't know if I felt that way, but I felt like staying in the studio and recording as much as I can. And I just kept writing and writing."
After three years, Yorn finally emerged with a rock album and a gospel-flavored EP. "I got heavy into Elvis' later gospel phase and I discovered Roy Orbison in a major way, some of the more obscure stuff he was doing," Yorn said of the EP, titled Western.
For the more rocking material, Yorn cited Bowie's experimental Low as a major influence. "I like the drum sounds from that a lot," he said of the 1976 album. "This record rocks, though. Dave Grohl plays drums on one song and I put that harmonizer all over them. The record definitely has its mellow moments, but it's upbeat."
Both records also feature Dixie Chicks, "Farmer" Dave Scher from Beachwood Sparks and legendary keyboardist Leon Russell. "There are a couple songs I wrote with friends, which was something I'd never done before," Yorn added.
Yorn considers the LP, Nightcrawler, to be the third installment in a trilogy that includes his debut musicforthemorningafter and 2003's Day I Forgot. "When you hear it, you'll understand," he said. "This could be the last one. I could be three records and out in this form. I might start a band and see where that takes me."
Yorn's not the kind of songwriter to spell out messages in his material — "I don't even know what they're about until five years later, I'll be onstage singing it and something's going on in my life and I'm like, 'Wow, I get it,' " — but he said this batch of songs definitely come from a specific place.
"A lot of relationship stuff, a lot of sh-- has happened in my immediate family and friends and I put that in and tried to make happy endings from them," he explained, without elaborating. "Most people might see them as dark and negative, but I know there's a glimmer of hope at the end of each song. It's important for people to know it's a hopeful record.
"Some of it might go over people's heads, but I know it's the right thing," he added. "I spent a lot of sleepless nights making it."
Nightcrawler is due in stores on August 15, while Western will be available exclusively on Yorn's summer tour, which kicks off on June 22 in Santa Barbara, California, and wraps up August 12 at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Dubbed the You & Me Acoustic Tour, the trek will be Yorn's first playing solo since he was signed in 2000.
"I saw Bruce [Springsteen] at the Pantages do his one-man show and that really inspired me," Yorn said of the Boss' recent Los Angeles gig. "So I'm presenting the songs in their most primitive form, but at the same time, I'm bringing a bunch of friends with me who I've been known to play with in the past, so at any time the shows could transform to a rock show. I'm not going to have any set list, just do what I feel and take requests and connect with the fans."
Yorn's film-school-graduate cousin will also be traveling on the tour, shooting footage for videos and a possible DVD.
"My favorite thing has always been the super-sweaty nights in the small clubs where everybody's right next to you," Yorn said. "That's the most inspiring thing for me and where I'm happy."
You & Me Acoustic Tour dates, according to Columbia Records:
- 6/22 - Santa Barbara, CA @ Soho
- 6/23 - Long Beach, CA @ The Vault 350
- 6/24 - Sacramento, CA @ Blue Lamp
- 6/27 - Dallas, TX @ Gypsy Tea Room
- 6/28 - Austin, TX @ The Parish
- 6/30 - Lawrence, KS @ The Bottleneck
- 7/1 - St. Louis, MO @ Blueberry Hill's Duck Room
- 7/2 - Madison, WI @ The Annex
- 7/5 - Indianapolis, IN @ The Music Mill
- 7/6 - Columbus, OH @ The Basement
- 7/7 - Louisville, KY @ Phoenix Hill Tavern
- 7/8 - Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
- 7/10 - Rochester, NY @ The Club at Water Street Music Hall
- 7/11 - Portland, ME @ The Asylum
- 7/12 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club/ Lounge
- 7/13 - Baltimore, MD @ Sonar
- 7/15 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle
- 7/16 - Knoxville, TN @ Blue Cats
- 7/17 - Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
- 7/18 - Atlanta, GA @ Smith's Olde Bar
- 7/19 - Birmingham, AL @ The Nick
- 7/21 - Council Bluffs, IA @ Whiskey Roadhouse at Harrah's
- 7/22 - Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theatre
- 7/24 - Denver, CO @ Walnut Room
- 7/25 - Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre
- 7/26 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Club Sound
- 7/28 - Seattle, WA @ Crocodile Cafe
- 7/29 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
- 7/31 - San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
- 8/1 - San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
- 8/2 - Scottsdale, AZ @ Martini Ranch
- 8/8 - Alexandria, VA @ The Birchmere
- 8/9 - Richmond, VA @ Alley Katz
- 8/11 - Philadelphia, PA @ North Star
- 8/12 - Asbury Park, NJ @ Stone Pony