This article was originally featured in ASBO MAGAZINE; Issue 10
With a sharp tongue and a bassline dirtier than the water at the bottom of your toothbrush cup, Yard Act have emerged onto the scene as a mature, minimalist rock band with maximalist venom.
The Leeds based band consisting of James Smith, Ryan Needham, George Townsend and Sammy Robinson formed during the first wave of the pandemic, existing in a sphere of Spotify plays and virtual bedroom streams before finally progressing as a band that performs in front of a live audience. Since then they have been moving forward with unyielding vigour as they confront the greed and discontent sown within our society mixed in with humorous, tongue in cheek numbers.
One of the first songs released, ‘Fixer Upper’, is a song about a man called Graham who has finally managed to become a second homeowner. He exists in a plane of his own disillusionment, trying to make his own mark on the world in his own little corner of England as he destroys Tudor architecture in favour of prosecco o’clock posters. In an elegy to describe the type of person who you’d imagine to own a second home, Graham, according to James is “a flawed, flawed man like most men are… he’s a product of his environment”.
The Graham is a slang term as a shorthand title for a certain type of person, could be from many different backgrounds and many different parts of the country. He’s a fluid character that embodies societal pressure on
men to act and do things a certain way whilst being trapped within a system that they didn’t build themselves”. Contrasted with songs like Peanuts, a song about a woman with an imaginary husband who has a peanut allergy, the addition ofcomic relief has allowed his barbed lyricism to become a punchy but balanced act which makes for a refreshing take that allows it to have undertones pertaining to the human condition and be entertaining at the same time.
With their first album now finally out Yard Act have proven themselves to be a band that have reaped the throes of the pandemic and have emerged into the scene with a promising outlook as more mature musicians. In this instance it has served James well being able to write with a more mature outlook but with the same passion and anger that channels its way through as a vaudevillian jester in a mac who seems acrimonious at the greed that has manifested itself on our island, with what he describes it as “an anti capitalist message at its core… it
knows that it’s all well and good… kind of revels in contradiction, and accepts that we’re all part of a system… we still get caught up in it, and we all have to live within it.
And so, you know, it pokes fun at principles and just picks out the flaws in human nature in how we contradict ourselves. I guess it kicks against the system, but it doesn’t kick against the people within it. Because even the people at the top are still kind of caught within it. It’s kind of bigger than any single human being. But you’ve got to look at human beings individually to see how the system works”.
Whilst James acknowledges that they are “Enjoying it while it lasts, because we’re flavour of the month right now and you won’t we won’t be for very long. So we’re just gonna have some fun with it” it seems that Yard Act have united at least two different generations of music, one can see at their gigs the varied ages present and YouTube comments that claim to have gotten them into music again.
In these fractured times anything that can bring us together should be lauded but as James fittingly puts in the Trapper Pelts “all that divides us is evil but all that unites us is evil” and perhaps it is because of recent events something like Yard Act has been allowed to exist.
Words and pics: Sebastian Garraway
WATCH our video interview with Yard Act: Here