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Interview: The Yallas Yallas
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What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I’ve been in love with music ever since I was a kid. There was always music being played in the house. I used to play my Dad’s records on the turntable, read the lyrics and sing along imagining I was in the band. I genuinely can’t imagine my life without music, it’d be like trying to live without food or water.
What do you like to do when you're not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I listen to a lot of music, like most of the time. I’m always on the hunt for new music. I read a lot and watch art, history, and nature tv shows. Everything I do helps my creativity in some way or another. As long as I’m learning I seem to get new ideas.
How long has your band been around?
We formed in 2006 or 2007, I think. We’ve gone through a few line-up changes but myself (Rob Galloway, Vocals) and Will Grinder (Guitar) are the original members. Grant Henderson our drummer joined on the last album but has been our producer from the beginning, Vince Cayo on bass is a real talent.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are from Leeds in Northern England. It’s a large industrial city, a no-nonsense working-class city. The people are tough with hearts of gold. Friendly but they don’t fuck about. As long as you don’t come around here waving your money about thinking you’re better than us then you’ll do just fine. I think Leeds influenced my writing and music because as a city we like a good time and we like honesty and we give that out by the bucketload.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you.
‘Yalla Yalla’ by Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros inspired our name. “So long liberty, let’s forget you never showed, not in our time, but in our sons and daughters time, call and you’ve got a room”. I loved that opening line in that it’s offering forgiveness to the freedom that we were promised and that it’s still welcome to come around some day in the future. I thought that’s a great sentiment to build a band on.
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
Best gig: ADM in Amsterdam, it was one of the oldest and most famous squats in Europe. We arrived just as the police were sticking the final notice of eviction on the gates. There was people who had lived at ADM for 30 years and had children and grown up there, it was their home and neighbourhood. I could see everybody was worried. I spoke to the band and said we need to pick these guys up tonight, no fucking about. We went on stage and we give it some, the room was full, sweaty, people got naked, a man was crowd surfing in a metal wheel barrow, audience members got naked, the whole band crowd surged, it was the only time I’ve ever played drums in public, and we left the stage chanting “VIVE ADM”. One of the residents told me afterwards that although we’re a rock band the atmosphere felt more like a rave. He was correct there was something very primal, defiant, and human about that gig. I jumped into the cold North Sea after that gig to cool down.
Worst gig for me was in Nijmegen on our last tour and I’d lost my voice before the gig, I took painkillers and everything. I managed three songs and had to walk off. I was crying. It really got to me. I stormed out of the venue and someone from the bar came outside to pick me up. I was convinced to go back inside and other people were jumping on the mic singing our songs for me. It ended up being a great little gig and I actually got to see The Yalla Yallas play live.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you haven't already?
My favourite place to play so far has be at De Graafse Akker in Den Bosch in The Netherlands. It feels like a home to me. When I first visited it was a wasteland but now it is an urban farm and they have ideas to develop further. It’s a wonderful community project. I’ve performed there with the band but also as a solo artists. I love playing by the fire and eating their delicious homegrown vegan food.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
I’d like to mix it up a bit, I think if you had us The Yalla Yallas, M.I.A., and The Chemical Brothers then I think everyone would have a very good night.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Play like your lives depend on it. It doesn’t matter what style of music if you look like it matters to you then it quite often cuts through.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Spend more time writing and rehearsing that 2nd album. We went into the studio too soon another couple of months and it would have been a different album, although another couple of months and we might not have made the album at all. Who knows? Just keep doing what you’re doing.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
It quite often changes. I think maybe ‘Love, Anger, and the Credit Card Crunch’ I don’t think I’ve ever not played it live with the band or solo. It was the first song that I wrote that I thought “I’m a great writer”. I love my lyrics in that song, pure poetry.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
My favourite to play is ‘Venus and the Horse’. It’s quite a demanding song. A great rock n roll song that’s so simple but we need to be super tight for. The lyrics are super fast and bordering into rap and I don’t get much chance to catch my breath in it. Most requested is probably ‘County Court’ I always seem to want to play other songs but people seem to love that song.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I usually write on an acoustic guitar, then I’ll record like a 6 track demo and arrange it. Then we’ll rehearse it and play it live a few times and then by the time we record it’ll be well oiled. I usually get these little lightning bolt moments where I’ll just instantly write a song and it’ll come to me in an instant but it’s usually after a period of time of absorbing and distilling new information.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I like to write about life, love, politics, philosophy, and the world. Observational stuff. I want to put out the message that we can do better.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Rarely, we’re all pretty considerate of each other and respect each other’s opinions. I tend to make most of the decision making and try to include everyone in that. The band seem to trust my vision for the band.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that's coming up?
The next single is ‘I wanna live’ and will be released on Friday 4th June and will be followed by our fifth album ‘What it Means to be Human’ on the 21st June. It will be released on limited edition Orange vinyl and can already be pre-ordered from here http://www.theyallayallas.com