Nate Cook of the Yawpers on Being Stranded In Bakersfield and What It Means to Have a Favorite Job

October 27, 2015

Tell us about your tour vehicle. Any notable breakdown stories?

We walked into a beautiful situation with our vehicle. We caught a 2006 Dodge Sprinter that was being firesold. Quite a get. She’s up to 180,000 (75,000 in 15 months). Being the brilliantly made vehicle she is, we’ve had no notable breakdowns. However, our previous vehicle, and 1987 Holiday Bounder (RV) managed to breakdown in the middle of summer in Bakersfield. Left us stranded for a solid week in what can only be described as a meth and condemned notice hell.

How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?

Well, we probably spoil ourselves. I think it boils down to priorities. We’ll sleep on any floor, drink any swill, and suffer any indignity, but food is about as important as it gets for us, The beauty of this job is getting to travel, and sampling the local fare gives insight into a communities uniqueness/diversity/flair that no other medium can. I feel bad when I when I see other bands eating packaged foods, then I remember how often we sleep in the van to make our choice feasible. Fair trade.

How many strings and cymbals do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?

We spend an inordinate amount of money on gear replacement. Given my personal playing style, I have to replace to sets of strings every show, which comes out to about $16 a night. Compound that over close to 200 shows, and it adds up. We bust cymbals, heads, and countless other things as well. Par for the course, I suppose.

Where do you rehearse?

We rent a community rehearsal space in Denver named, aptly, “The Space”. It’s located in one of the barren industrial wastelands on Denver’s southwest side that has yet to gentrify, or be spoiled by the otherwise ubiquitous coffee shops and hipster bars. Nothing but machine shops and one low rent strip club nearby. Needless to say, given its lack of proximity to anyone who gives a shit, and it’s 24 hour nature, we’ve done some pretty unspeakable things there.

What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?

Jesus! Ummm, I think it was something lame like “Countenance” or some bullshit. I’d prefer not to dredge my memory to remember any of it.

Describe your first gig.

My personal first gig was a weekly engagement at some regular’s bar where they didn’t like music or me. Or just my music. I prefer to believe the prior. Anyway, I learned the only way to get them to take note was to scream above their chatter of desperation and not take any shit. I don’t think I won any fans, but maybe a little respect.

What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?

For the most part I bar tend between stints on the road. Having a favorite job is like having a favorite genital wart.

How has your music-related income changed over the past 5-10 years? What do you expect it to look like 5-10 years from now?

We’ve been incredibly lucky to see music income shift in our favor pretty dramatically. Hopefully it will be sustainable, and negate any need for other sources soon.

What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?

That no one is as cool as you think they are. Everyone suffers from crippling self doubt, and the sooner you come to terms with that, the sooner you can just do it anyway.

The Yawpers craft tunes that are engrossed in creative context. Some might recall edges of the mid-1900s Delta blues, but only if those lived-in riffs were played by the MC5, broadcast through booming stadium speakers and drenched with pounds of fuzzy distortion and full-throttled punk rock energy. They conduct parallel frequencies with the ferocious and raw proletarian roots of Uncle Tupelo, the burning-hot thrashings and cavernous sonic space of Hot Snakes, and mix in derisive scrutiny that brings to mind Ween or the Minutemen.

American Man is the band’s second full-length release. They’ve self-released an EP (Savage Blue), a full-length album (Capon Crusade), and a bootleg covers record (Good Songs/Shitty Versions). The Yawpers formed in 2011 when Parmet and Cook played together at the only speakeasy in Boulder, CO. They added a drummer to the mix and a new trio was born. The band’s name is a nod to Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”: “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”

You can find the band online and on the road.