Music Anna Palma/Special to Juice

Anna Palma/Special to Juice

80/35 act Yeasayer’s creative live adaptations

Published on July 2nd, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

When Yeasayer comes to play 80/35 this week, it will pretty much have to be better than the last time the psychedelic Brooklyn band came to Des Moines.

Singer/guitarist/keyboardist Anand Wilder remembers showing up for a Des Moines show in 2007 and walking into a venue to find someone else playing and no signs for the Yeasayer show. The band debated staying to play or getting a head start on driving to its scheduled Daytrotter session in the Quad Cities.

“It’s the only show we ever missed,” Wilder said during a phone call from Kansas. “The promoter wrote on our Facebook page ‘Thanks a lot, rock star douchebags!’ I think we made the right decision, because that Daytrotter session was one of our early live performances that made the rounds on the Internet. But we’re excited to go back. We need to make amends.”

Yeasayer is known for its intricate songs that involve combining traditional instruments with electronic sounds. It’s not a style that translates easily to live performances, but Wilder said that the members of the band aren’t purists about translating songs exactly for live shows. Several Yeasayer songs also got their start in live sets, only to change greatly once they hit the studio.

Wilder said the band tries to make its live shows more energetic than the recordings, and that the songs are constantly evolving. They’ll drop extra notes out of songs and strip things down to the essentials if need be.

“We don’t feel like we have to maintain the arrangement or sound of the album,” Wilder said. “Sometimes there will be an essential sound or drum tone that we need, otherwise the song doesn’t sound right. In that case we’re not afraid to sample or use a backing track. But lots of times we’ve just said “F*** it,” and I’ll just play the riff on guitar.”

Yeasayer has two vocalists, Wilder and Chris Keating (who is playing an after party DJ set Friday at Wooly’s). Who sings lead on a song generally depends on who wrote it, though they do occasionally add bits onto each others’ songs.

Yeasayer’s latest album, “Fragrant World,” has been out less than a year, but Wilder said the band is already working on new material. The album had been finished nearly six months before it was released, so while it’s still fresh to listeners, Yeasayer is excited about the next thing.

Wilder said the band is writing differently for what comes next. He’s writing on piano for the first time, and is recording it using his iPhone. Once he has a few good parts, he’ll start tinkering with them and fusing them together. He said writing this way has been a lot faster than starting a song on the computer and spending too much time worrying over what a synthesized drum hit sounds like or rearranging loops.

After touring this summer, it will be back to writing. Wilder plans to head into the studio this winter.

“Hopefully we’ll hit a studio in Texas or Mississippi or North Carolina; we want to record someplace warm in the winter. We also want to do a proper studio recording. This time we’re going to do a lot more live rhythm tracks and basic tracks and try to give it more of a live feel.”

See them: 7 p.m. Friday on the Main Stage



About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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