To cut a short story even shorter, Yeah Yeah Yeahs formed in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, two-and-a-half years ago when Karen O (vocals) and Nick Zinner (guitar) stumbled upon one another in a New York bar. They wrote some pretty acoustic folk songs together before the lightening bolt realization struck that they could, conceivably, be the best rock-n-roll, art-punk, disco-sleaze whatever-you-wanna-call-it band in the city. They called Karenâ€™s old Ohio college pal Brian Chase (drums) to bring the thunder and backbone to the party. With Nick playing through two amps, there would be no need for a bass player.
In early 2001 Yeah Yeah Yeahs recorded their 5-track, self-titled debut EP (most commonly known as the Bang! EP - see track listing below) at Teelâ€™s Funhouse studios in Manhattan.
Had the EP or their increasingly raucous live shows (for example their debut gig opening for the White Stripes) been nothing special, no one would have cared either way. But the buzz about YYYs was fuelling mysterious excitement in the hearts of music fans and critics alike. The band released the EP in late 2001 on their own Shifty imprint and that excitement became a tangible, ownable, playable thing. Shortly after, Kill Rock Stars released a compilation Fields and Streams with an early recording of YYYs â€œModern Things.â€?
In March the band played Austin, TXâ€™s South By Southwest music conference, their electrifying show and Karen and Christian Joyâ€™s* margarita-fueled high jinx backstage making the front pages of the local press.
The UKâ€™s first taste of live YYYs was in late March 2002 when the band came over to tour Europe with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Yeah Yeah Yeahs played their debut London headline gig at Metro on Oxford St before supporting Jon Spencer at Brixton Academy (Karen O cavorting around the huge stage in pink prom dress and frilly knickers). An unhinged recording of â€œOur Timeâ€? from a show at Trash at The End appears on the Trash Companion compilation. Their cute bunny rabbit pin badges, t-shirts with â€œWanna Fuck?â€? logos and one-off, handmade clutch bags** became every Karen O wannabeâ€™s latest must-have fashion accessory and sold out fast.
The EP had been picked up earlier by Wichita Recordings and was given a UK release in April 2002. Later in the year it was picked up and re-released in the States by Touch & Go. Despite the tongue-in-cheek declaration â€œas a fuck, son, you suck!â€? repeated over and again in the chorus, â€œBang!â€? slipped past the censors and landed daytime radio play. At the end of 2002, NME voted the EP No. 2 in their Singles of the Year.
Back in Brooklyn, YYYs had started recording sessions for their album. Faced with making their first record, the process took longer than anticipated which led them to make the hard decision of canceling their appearances at the Reading and Leeds festivals. They were to be back on tour in America with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Sleater-Kinney in September/October, and then re-united The Liars for more US dates and a stint in Australia in December. Credit to the fans, the success was largely due to word of mouth and those ever-present raving reviews.
YYYs have now completed their debut album. All songs on the album are previously unreleased. After a bit of window shopping, YYYs will release their album Fever To Tell on Dress Up / Interscope in the Spring of â€˜03.
*Mischief catalyst and Karen_s dress designer
**YYYs hand bags designed and made by Rachel Hawkins
- â€œMachineâ€? single â€“ Touch & Go
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs EP (with â€œBang!â€?, â€œMystery Girlâ€?, â€œArt Starâ€?, â€œMiles Awayâ€? and â€œOur Timeâ€?) â€“ Touch & Go
- Fever To Tell (with â€œRichâ€?, â€œDate With the Nightâ€?, â€œManâ€?, â€œTickâ€?, â€œBlack Tongueâ€?, â€œPinâ€?, â€œCold Lightâ€?, â€œNo No Noâ€?, â€œMapsâ€?, â€œY Controlâ€?, â€œModern Romanceâ€?) â€“ Dress Up / Interscope (Spring â€™03)