Q&A: Yeasayer's Chris Keating on 4/20, LSD, Cocaine Cowboys, and Ben Franklin

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chris keating ryan dombal.jpg
Ryan Dombal
Chris Keating & Yeasayer will be at Neumos tomorrow night.
Yeasayer's playing a sold-out show tomorrow night at Neumos. I'm super stoked to

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Q&A: Yeasayer's Chris Keating on 4/20, LSD, Cocaine Cowboys, and Ben Franklin

  • Q&A: Yeasayer's Chris Keating on 4/20, LSD, Cocaine Cowboys, and Ben Franklin

  • ">

    chris keating ryan dombal.jpg
    Ryan Dombal
    Chris Keating & Yeasayer will be at Neumos tomorrow night.
    Yeasayer's playing a sold-out show tomorrow night at Neumos. I'm super stoked to hear their killer most recent record, Odd Blood, performed live, and I talked to front man Chris Keating recently about the band's plan for the Seattle show, that Rolling Stone story, and writing songs about famous people. Read on:

    You're playing Seattle on 4/20. Got anything special planned for us?

    What, for all you stoners? Not anything other than our normal spectacular show that we do night in night out.

    That's a tactful answer.

    My friend builds these customized lightboxes, and we really blast retinas, so I bet if people are so inclined to be really high - and I'm sure they're going to since that's usually our fanbase - their minds will bug out, I guarantee it.

    Let's talk about that Rolling Stone article that says you guys conceived of Odd Blood while on an LSD trip in New Zealand.

    I would say that's not particularly accurate. I think that was somewhat sensationalized. We did go to New Zealand (after a tour in Australia). I have taken acid before. It's kind of funny because we like to play music and we like to have fun, but we're not really that into crazy partying. And just the idea that a single acid trip or any single drug experience could cause you to have a vision for an entire record... we were already planning the record and we already had ideas. It was fun and it was really exciting to listen to other people's music...

    While you were on acid?

    Sure. But to say that we got an idea for an album while on it... I never said that. I think it was not an outright lie, but somewhat of a sensationalized fabrication on the part of journalists who need to have a headline. People want to believe that all musicians and artists and people like that are lunatics, that they're just drug-addled. Which is fine, because it's probably more excited than the reality of us just being nerds... If it seems cooler to portray us as acid freaks or stoners, I don't really care.

    I read that one of the songs on Odd Blood, "Grizelda," is about Griselda Blanco from the documentary Cocaine Cowboys. How do you take specific events and decide to turn them into your own music?

    We wanted to make a version of what we thought a pop record was, somewhat cheesy sentiment, somewhat direct, slightly bubblegum lyrics, and then also dealing with love, love songs, personal relationships. That kind of counteracts the electronic vibe. We began reading about Griselda Blanco and we rented that movie because we were intrigued by the idea of a female mass murderer, and the relationships she had with the people she worked with. They were all in love with her, and that kind of was an alternative version of a love song.

    Have you thought about going to Colombia to try to find her?

    I don't want to try to find her. She seems scary.

    What about "Mondegreen'? Isn't that song based on Glenn Beck and the FOX news crew?

    That was an idea of living in a surreal, 24-hour news cycle, a hyper-paranoid state. I'm into creating frenetic energy, and I see that in places like FOX News. I would really like to write a song about Glenn Beck. That dude is so fucked up, but kind of fascinating. He's just out of the movie Network, that's one of my favorite movies, so it's like life mimicking art in a weird way.

    Is there anyone in pop culture or history that you want to write a song about?

    I think a Ben Franklin song. We have the same birthday, January 17. I also have the same birthday as Zooey Deschanel, so maybe I should just write a song about her.

    Or a song about all three of you hanging out together.

    I was gonna write a song about all the people I share a birthday with. I have a lot of celebrities and interesting historical figures I share a birthday with. It'd probably be a very good song.

    If only Zooey or Ben could come to your birthday party, which one would you pick?

    Ben Franklin, if he looked like Zooey.

    Do you guys make it a point to make music videos a big part of your band's presentation?

    I lament the loss of music video culture, and I'm kind of excited that it seems to be coming back a little. Streaming videos are exciting again. Videos were kind of dormant for the last decade because MTV stopped playing videos and started to play Gossip Girl or something.

    Your "Ambling Alp" music video is particularly epic.

    We shot it at a top secret location in the desert, and then we also shot it at Jim Henson Studio. We were going for something that looked vaguely cinematic, like from a movie that hadn't been made, a glimpse into a little universe.

    Didn't you go to high school with some of the guys from Animal Collective?

    Yeah, I just saw Brian two nights ago. He came to our show. I'm good friends with him and his wife.

    I just saw their new film, ODDSAC. Have you seen it?

    I have not. Isn't that weird? It has almost the same name as our album.

    So did they copy you or did you copy them?

    We didn't copy them, considering we came up with the name for our album over a year ago. Whatever.

    Have you thought about doing a tour together?

    No. I'm not going to open up for Animal Collective, and that's what that would entail. If you'd asked me that three years ago, I would have definitely. I'm not going to open up for U2 if they ask. We're not going to open up anymore. Unless it's a festival or something. There's time for that, and we've done that. It's more fun to play to your own fans.

     
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