Breaking Out: Yuck
A random encounter in the Holy Land reinvigorates gloriously fuzzy guitar rockers.
Two years ago a young Englishman named Daniel Blumberg was on vacation in Israel, wandering the desert in a Daniel Johnston tee when a dude in an Animal Collective shirt served him iced tea at a kibbutz. The two struck up a conversation about New Jersey punk upstarts Titus ?Andronicus. “Then we started singing songs together — it was beautiful,” ?recalls Blumberg. The eventual singer-guitarist for London fuzz-rockers Yuck had just met his future drummer, a Jewfro’d college student from Jersey named Jonny Rogoff.
Blumberg, 20, befriended his first musical confrere, guitarist Max Bloom, under less unusual circumstances (at school) when both were four. The two played in the indie-pop outfit Cajun Dance Party as teens. The group signed to XL in 2007 and played Glastonbury, but then fizzled, leaving Blumberg to wonder how he’d channel his obsession with ’90s acts like Smog and Pavement into a new project. He and Bloom began writing together again, and once they imported Rogoff and recruited Japanese transplant Mariko Doi on bass, Yuck started playing live — and drawing comparisons to Dinosaur Jr. with their doodly, dreamy rock.
The dozen tracks on the band’s self-titled, self-produced Fat Possum ?debut were recorded in Bloom’s ?parents’ house with minimal drama, though, sighs Blumberg, “His neighbors complained the whole time.” They were apparently immune to the album’s blend of distortion-soaked tunes (including “Georgia,” which ?features Blumberg’s younger sister Ilana on vocals), slow-burning Smashing Pumpkins-style ballads (“Stutter,” “Suck”), and punky fuzzscapes like ?recent single “The Wall.”
His indie heroes aside, Blumberg’s first real taste of American rock came from blink-182, a band whose influence only extended as far as adopting a goofy name. But, he adds dryly, “I’m sure if I listened to Enema of the State in the right mood, it would still be ?really exciting.” He also wants to make clear that the Yuck moniker doesn’t refer to anything in particular. “No band name really corresponds to what you do,” he muses, inviting ?dissatisfied critics to riff away. “If someone hates us, it would be so great if they ended a review like, ‘Yuck.’?” As far as he knows, he’s had no takers.