Michael Tomlinson from Yves Klein Blue sounds tired. Like ten whiskeys deep, rock bottom, tired. The cause of his anxiety?
Recession? No. Rising price of fuel? Unlikely. Rather it is the birth of a new album, the release of a record, which has Michael crawling the walls.
“Yeah for a while there I was pacing down the halls ripping my hair out trying to finish the damn thing. But now its been done for a while, but again its weird because people are starting to hear it. We’ve been living with this record for a year, working on it for a year and people are finally starting to hear it.”
While the prospect of punters hearing the album is daunting, imagine being uprooted from sunny Brisbane to sunny LA to record it. Yves Klein Blue waved goodbye to BrisVegas and instead chose LA as their destination. It’s obvious that it was a learning curve for the band.
“So we went over to LA, which is the first huge thing, to work with a producer, Kevin Yagoones. When we got there we thought we were ready to cut the songs live. But Kevin was like, play this song, so we did. Then he was like, play it with just the kick drum and the snare and just the bass, and we played it and we realized the bass and the drums were just totally out of whack.”
While Kevin may sound a little demanding it was just the kind of push the band needed.
It led to many beer-soaked recording sessions, Yves Klein Blue desperately searching for unity. Michael admits there was a division in their playing style, and part of the ‘LA experience’ was finding a way to play together.
“It takes a great band to truly be playing together. We weren’t doing that, we learnt that. Kevin’s contribution to the record was to say straight down the line when he thought something wasn’t working or was missing, then it was up to us to find it, and up the standard.”
At this point lesser individuals, myself included, would’ve chucked it in and come home, but Michael and his band mates stuck to it.
“It was intense. It was confrontational. We’re really proud of what we’ve done, it was a huge emotional experience, from writing it, to studio time, mixing, just getting it perfect.”
With the album done and dusted the band now faces a tour, which brings a whole new set of problems. Issue one, combining the album and live show into one.
“I think certainly things get a lot meaner live, louder, faster. I mean I don’t really think there is anything on the record we did that we couldn’t recreate live,” he tells me with gusto. “Well we did get a horn section in for the album and we can’t do that. Oh and a guy from Wilco plays pedals on a track, so we couldn’t do that,” he confesses somewhat sheepishly.
But with musicians as with everyone, lacking enthusiasm is something that happens from time to time. Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a wonderfully articulate and equally witty article, but I have to. Similarly sometimes musos don’t want to be on stage on a particular night, but Michael explains that it is a fleeting thought.
“I mean there are some nights where you feel you’d rather not play a gig, but that lasts about halfway through the first song. There is nothing better then being on stage. When the crowd gives back it becomes this feedback cycle of excitement.”
Those who have seen Yves on stage know Michael is telling the truth. The live show is energetic and sensual, like having sex while skipping. No wonder they’ve found popularity overseas. Yves Klein Blue has toured three times abroad, learning invaluable lessons along the way.
“The last time we had much more know how when it came to touring overseas. Using hired gear, and transformers and power, it is all about getting converters for stuff, just weird shit.”
Admittedly this wasn’t the rock n roll answer I had hoped for. I was expecting something along the lines of ‘when someone smashes the hotel room, always blame the drummer.’ Luckily though, this last tour’s electricity wasn’t confined to converters and power points.
“Wait wait, the best night I had was in New York. We had this cool gig at some Warehouse in Brooklyn, dilapidated and shit. They were selling beers for a dollar fifty. The mic kept electrocuting me, so I put my sock on it, so I kept tasting my feet all night, and getting electrocuted.”
I ask if he was shocked, but he ignores me and continues his story.
“Then we went over to Greenwich Village after the gig, to some pub and it was down the bottom of a pizza place, and it was The Strokes bar. So we were hanging out with Juliette Lewis and Fabrizio Moretti and Drew Barrymore, and it was just fucking surreal.”
Yves Klein Blue play Oxford Arts on Saturday 4th July. Visit www.yveskleinblue.com for more info.