Just over three years ago, former The Libertines bassist John Halsall confirmed that he was more than ready to move on and away from the wreckage of that compelling, but ill-fated venture. With help from Andrew Deian (guitar/vox), Graham Blacow (drums) and Marc Underwood (acoustic/vox) he strolled through a set of brisk, carefree country psychedelic lifted soft rock in support of Razorlight.
Through the spirited Byrds-eque flight of ‘Never Lose Your Sense Of Wonder’, they had the potential anthem and carefree sense of melody. Since then things slowed down and it has taken over three years for their debut album ‘There Legend Of Yeti Gonzales’, to make it out into the public domain (released 09/06/08 on Get Up And Go Records).
However, this adventuring troupe now seems more focused, their dynamic nature gives them the ability to keep afloat in the shark infested waters of our music industry. John Halsall (J) and Mark Underwood (M), kindly take the time to look back, forward and to the side, giving an honest perspective on their trade and life in general. Oh, and you might see the odd reference to The Libertines scattered around here and there.
1. When starting out with Yeti several years back, was it important for all of you to distance yourselves from previous projects? What would you say is the main ethos of Yeti?
M: Well I certainly wanted to distance myself from Project X. I still feel bad about all those monkeys, fortunately Matthew saved a considerable amount of them. John I think this is for you?
J: Yeah, it was important to show that we were nothing like the “L” band by not wearing leather, not doing drugs and not being garage rock
M: And, not being famous.
J: Yes. And that’s our ethos. Music is more important than being papped shooting up & throwing up.
2. Your stand out track for me is one of your earliest numbers ‘Working For The Industry’. You manage to convey disbelief, disillusionment and use punk style lyrics that expose “The Man” and the drudgery of robotic working class life. However, you do so in a sparkling folk/blues-rock manner that merges the best parts of the sound of the Kooks and early The Byrds. What did you wish to achieve in writing this, is it a subtle protest against protest songs that get lost in anger and resentment?
M: Do the Kooks have a best part? What is that, the bit before they play or the bit after they stop playing? Or the bit where they die in some propeller-in-face style accident?
J: The music industry sucks ass. That is all.
3. Your debut album, ‘The Legend of Yeti Gonzales’ is finally making it into the public domain. Has it been a frustrating road to its release? Given the fact that you seemed to have the momentum, profile and right sound to have released it several years back? How in your mind has Yeti changed since you started out?
M: If we’d have released it a couple of years back it would have sold lots more. But it would have been pretty shit.
J: It would have been entirely off the back of the Lib’s. So now we’re happily going to sell shed loads less copies to people, but to people who actually like us. And the music is better now. Nice and slow. We used to play too fast.
4. One of your first full length tours was in support of Razorlight. It has been commented that Razorlight crowds’ like Oasis ones aren’t too open to support acts? Are John’s loyalties divided in the great public grudge between your old band-mate Pete Doherty and Johnny Borrell, or is it not worth give it any credibility to it?
M: I do recall people shouting “fuck off” quite a lot. And stuff got thrown. But I blame that on our playing. If we were amazing they would have shut up and listened. We weren’t.
J: What great public grudge? We were all out just the other night, they seemed fine.
5. Would you ever tour with Razorlight again and would you tour with Babyshambles or Dirty Pretty Things in the future?
6. A topical question; are festivals a good or bad thing for music, as a lot of the time the line-up is dictated by bartering between event organisers and A & R companies, as oppose to a real effort to give exposure to up and coming artists?
M: They’re a good thing for the bank account. The PRS is rather good for festivals.
J: If people want to see up & coming artists they can. If people want to see a plethora of great bands in one place a festival affords this opportunity.
7. You started the year with a lengthy tour. What do you want people to take out of a live Yeti show, how do you want to leave them feeling?
J: We want them to spread the word. Feel happy.
8. With all the talk of classic bands getting back together next year like The Smiths and The Stone Roses. Who would you pay to watch if they reformed?
M: A1. No, Elvis. Yeah if Elvis reformed I’d go watch him. It would be like not as good, like reformed turkey, but still pretty great.
9. Is Mark Ronson good or bad for music, or could you not really give a flying drum-beat about him?
M: I guess he was good for the Zutons. I imagine that awful Winehouse cover made them more money than their two albums combined. And he should get himself a less pubescent girlfriend the dirty old man.
10. If you could change just one thing about the modern music industry, what would it be and why?
M: We’d turn everything down a little.