Yarn Owl is a band from Pullman, Washington. Their website describes their sound as melding "the pop sensibilities of the 60’s and 70’s with a twist of modern indie flare." My path crossed with band's somewhere in the sinuous ways of the Internet. Noam Chomsky has asserted that language contains infinite numbers of potential combinations, but I'm guessing the words "Yarn" and "Owl" are not often a likely pair. So they're called Yarn Owl, I own a yarn owl, someone punches "yarn owl" into Google and the magic of Boolean search brings people together.
Well, once I found the band, I thought they sounded great. I sent them some questions and their singer, Javier Suarez, was kind enough to respond.
Eric -Yarn Owl began in 2007 and you've been a pretty busy band since then. Can you give us a brief time line of events over the last three or so years?
Javier -We started playing together in October '07 at our school's music building. We had our first real show in Seattle the next May. In the fall of '08 we put out our first little E.P. called Tape 1 cause it was recorded on cassette. We made the sequel E.P. tape 2 the next Spring. During that year we played a ton of shows around the Northwest with all kinds of groovy bands. We put out a cassette with Leftist Nautical Antiques called Tiny Dots that combined songs from both EPs in the Fall of '09. We made the E.P. Stay Warm in the Summer of '09. We are recording stuff now for a future release, the details of which are still coming together. We have shows coming up this fall and are just trying to put together the coolest music we can right now!
E - You're from the Northwest (Pullman, Washington) and so you have a legacy of great northwestern folk-rock bands to contend with, such as Rogue Wave, The Decemberists, and Blitzen Trapper. What is your relationship with the northwest's musical heritage and how has it affected your sound, if at all?
J -Yeah...I'd say we do have a relationship to it. Tim, our bass player was the Band of Horses original drummer on their first album. So he contributes elements of that style in his arrangement ideas and notions of what is sonically desirable. For me, when we talk about modern Northwest bands I'd say that the Fleet Foxes are at the top of my list in terms of what I actually listen to and consequentially I think that influence manifests in my lyrical themes, singing style and occasionally guitar playing. The Northwest is a big and diverse place, though, and I think talking about it as one 'thing' that exudes some kind of force is a bit amorphous- I mean, we all (read 'most modern people with Internet access') get our music and ideas about music from a very similar place, i.e. the Internet and so I think geographic location isn't as big of a influence as I think it once was... We all wear a lot of flannel though.
E -You've recorded an E.P., "Tiny Dots" released it on cassette format through Leftist Nautical Antiques. There's been a return to vinyl, but why cassettes?
J - Regarding Tiny Dots, that was Leftist Nautical Antiques' idea- that's just what they do. We thought it made sense, it was recorded on cassette, why not release it on cassette? Tons of people still have cassette players in their cars, its cheap, and its just kind of a different, novel way of gettting your music out there that fit our kind of thrift store aesthetic. It did come with a digital download 'cause I'm not so sure people were actually gonna start busting out their old Walkmans just for us. But it was a fun project that went really well, their seems to be a very dedicated and enthusiastic cassette constituency out there that was really receptive to it.
E - On your website you say you have a full length album coming out. Where are you recording that and with whom? When can we expect to hear it?
J - It is still being written. We want to get the songs just right before laying them down. Once the material clicks like we want it to, the 'whom' and 'where' of the recording will become clear to us. As for a when, I'll just say.....in the future. Definitely in the future.
E - What do you do to create such a full sound? Instruments? Studio techniques?
J - Well...Vocal harmonies, doubling vocals, shakers, panning, adding guitars, cymbals, organ, reverb...giving the mix to a good mastering place (We like Ed Brooks at RFI in Seattle).
E - Any plans for a tour outside of the northwest anytime soon?
J - Ambitions, but no solid plans!
E - Tyler makes some rad videos for your songs. What's the process? It looks work intensive.
J - Oh yeah, thousands of photos! Just your basic stop motion animation with construction paper. He's a patient and dedicated dude though, we are proud of him.
E - How'd you come up with the name Yarn Owl?
If you've been looking at your old Walkman, missing it, longing for a reason to reconnect, then pick up Yarn Owls' "Tiny Dots." You can buy it here. It comes with a digital format, too, so iPoders can listen the newfangled way.