Ivan of Noteworthy here again (Mondays, 6PM-8PM at uicradio.org) to tell you about a band called Young Buffalo hailing from Oxford, Mississippi. Their debut full-length, House, was released earlier this year and featured a bounty of wonderfully hazy harmonies along with some classic power pop crunch and a few layers of synths. They’ll be in town this Sunday at Township (2200 N. California Ave.) on Nov. 22, which was switched to from the original venue at Abbey Pub. I spoke with band co-founder Jim Barrett (pictured second from right) to find out a little bit more about the band.
Noteworthy: How long has Young Buffalo been around?
Young Buffalo has been a band since the summer of 2009, so a little over six years now.
NW: As I understand, you and Ben Yarbrough (the other co-founder) have been writing together since you were teenagers?
Yeah, we had some middle school bands and some high school bands where we played some shows and then started Young Buffalo transitioning to college.
NW: In what ways has it been easier having the same writing partner since you started and in what ways have you still been able to learn new things?
It’s been great that Ben and I have worked together for so long because we get to narrow down the quirks. There’s not much mystery, so you can get things done a bit easier having gone through a lot. As far as learning stuff, that always sort of happens. It moreso happens apart when we work on stuff while playing in different bands and come back with ideas.
NW: How did you guys come up with the title for the latest album, House?
It was originally going to be a different title. The middle song, leading off Side B, “My Place,” was originally called “House,” actually. Once we had the track listing in place, we reworked it a little bit and kind of realized it appeared at a certain point of the record and tied together a lot of things. We figured that it represented the album well. Also, whenever we record demos and practice and get ready for shows and stuff for all these other spinning wheels, it’s at Ben and Will’s (keyboardist Will Eubanks), so that fit into the theme as well. Taking in all that, it just felt right to call it House.
NW: What are some of the guitar sounds you’re proud of on the new album? Something that you did in the studio that everyone may not catch the first time around?
There’s this guitar in the first song called, “Man Of Your Dreams” and at the end of it, it kind of breaks out into a a bunch of stuff going on. It was a Danelectro baritone guitar with a really cool Spaghetti Western sort of strum. It’s really subtle, kind of mixed in the background. I’m proud of that. I think it was one of the last things I recorded on the record.
Some other guitar sounds from the album was this really awesome pedal steel sound on the song “Cliff Diver” that Ben got that we went into it not even thinking we would need. I’m sure there’s more, but it’s been a while since we recorded that album so I forget. It’s been a few years.
NW: OK, I’ll definitely try to keep an ear out next time I hear the album. You also recently posted a Panda Bear cover and when I heard you sing I couldn’t help notice that a lot of the harmonies sounded similar to Panda Bear himself, but those similar tones could be heard on House as well. Would you say he had an influence?
Absolutely. I think my brother got [Person Pitch] for me one Christmas when I was in eighth or ninth grade and I didn’t know what to make of it just because it was really weird and soundscape-y, but at the same time it’s brilliant and just all over the place. That first song, “Comfy In Nautica,” is gorgeous. It just really blew me away with how much you could do within three and a half, four minutes of song. That changed the game for me.
After that, I started working on the music that became the first Young Buffalo songs. [Person Pitch] definitely played a huge huge part, vocally and musically as well, just playing with different textures instead of just bass, guitar and drums. I put up that cover, which I’d been working on for a while, to give kind of a little insight to the music that’s helped me become an artist as well.
NW: Speaking of artists that deal with harmonies, I noticed you guys did a cover of The Beach Boys’ “Hang On To Your Ego” a while back. What made you go with that song?
It’s funny that you mention harmonies because there really are none on that song and that’s kind of why we went with that one. Every show and every write-up was always a Beach Boys comparisons because we sing pop songs and have harmonies. So we were like, “Let’s do a Beach Boys cover, but let’s do the one where there’s no harmonies” and just kind of reworked it. It’s also just one of my favorite Beach Boys tunes. There was also this whole thing when they were originally doing it that [Brian] Wilson said that’s how he wanted the song to be and they made him change it to put out the album. To me, the original version is so much better. So yeah, those reasons are pretty much why we went with it and it turned out well.
NW: Have you seen Love & Mercy yet and did you think they did any justice to the Pet Sounds era?
Oh yeah, and not just for the Pet Sounds era. I really enjoyed it. It reintroduced me to a lot of solo stuff and just his life story overall. I didn’t really know much about his childhood and upbringing.
NW: I haven’t seen it myself but I plan to before the year is over.
I thought they did a great job. I would highly recommend it.
NW: How long have you been an Ole Miss fan?
I’m pretty sure for as long as I’ve been alive.
NW: So what’s your favorite memory of Ole Miss football?
Probably beating Alabama last year. Me and my girlfriend met up with my folks and decided to go the game last minute, so that was a big one because it was an upset. Katy Perry was there, so that was insane. There were also a few times where I rushed the field as a kid when we won a big game and the goal posts would come down. But yeah, that Alabama game last year was a big one. It’s one of the crazier games I’ve ever witnessed.
NW: What gets the most rotation when you guys are on the road?
It really changes up now that there’s albums coming out every Friday and really good ones. It really depends. I started listening to the new Fuzz album. We’ve been listening to Kurt Vile, we listened to the new [Jeff Lynne’s] ELO album the other day. We just check out whatever’s new and go back to Twitter favorites when we’re in the van. Some drives do get more podcast heavy than others to break up the monotony though. We try to check out as much new stuff as we can while we’re driving.
NW: Before I let you go, which podcasts are you listening to? I’m always looking for recommendations.
We do Radiolab, This American Life. There was this one podcast on Earwolf [How Did This Get Made?] which had a live deconstruction of that Nic Cage movie Con Air which was pretty funny. We do the standards and when we get bored we just go to comedy podcasts or random things that are floating on the internet that will make us laugh for thirty minutes.
Young Buffalo will perform at Township on Nov. 22. If you want to keep up with them, you can check out their website at youngbuffaloband.com and don’t forget to listen to Noteworthy w/ Ivan Mitchell live every Monday from 6PM-8PM at http://uicradio.org, with clips and past interviews at soundcloud.com/NoteworthyRadioShow.