The Yawpers: Human Question
The Yawpers formed in 2011 with front man Nate Cook and lead guitarist Jesse Parmet. The two played their first gig at the only speakeasy in Boulder, Colorado, and would eventually add a drummer, currently Alex Koshak, before self-releasing their debut album, Capon Crusade, in 2012. The band would release another independent effort in 2013 called, Good Songs/Shitty Versions, which included covers of songs by Motorhead, Ween (one of my all-time favorites), Elvis Presley, The Coasters, and Aerosmith. The album was recorded at Bill Douglass’ Royal Recording studio in Colorado Springs, Colorado during the course of one day. The band’s name, Yawpers, is a nod to Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” specifically taken from the text “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.”
In 2015 a representative from Bloodshot Records observed the band play their set at South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. The Yawpers were signed to the record label immediately and released their sophomore album in that same year. American Man was the band’s first release via Bloodshot Records on October 30, 2015. The record was co-produced by Cracker’s Johnny Hickman and was recorded at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado. Not too long after its release, Rolling Stone published an article on the song “Burdens,” saying that “the guys bang out a Springsteen-worthy tribute to escaping the city limits of one’s hometown.”
The Yawpers released their second album on the Bloodshot Records label in October of 2017 called, Boy In A Well. The album was recorded in Chicago and was produced by Tommy Stinson from The Replacements and Alex Hall, who notably worked with JD McPherson and Pokey LaFarge. Nate Cook collaborated some of the writing on the record with his father, a poet and psychiatrist, and said that the writing of the dark material reflected his processing of childhood sexual abuse by an older man when he was young. Cook also writes about themes of abandonment, as the concept of the album is the story of a boy who lives in France during World War I. The boy would be abandoned by his mother in a well. The theme of abandonment stems from Cook’s own experiences with his marriage and divorce. The album is accompanied with a comic book that was created by J.D. Wilkes from The Legendary Shack Shakers.
The Yawpers most recent record, Human Question, was released via Bloodshot Records on April 19, 2019. The album was written, rehearsed, and recorded over a two-month period with Reliable Recordings’ Alex Hall (Cactus Blossoms, JD McPherson) at Chicago’s renowned Electrical Audio. The band tracked live in one room, feeding off the collective energy and adding few overdubs. The thirty-eight-minute thrill ride generates growth and cathartic self-reflection for audience and performer alike.
“Child of Mercy” kicks off the album with a distinctive blues tone from guitarist Jesse Parmet but quickly becomes a whirlwind of tones ranging from blues, to rock, to distorted punk. The Yawpers provide the listener with a unique and idiosyncratic sound that can be identified only as their own. The third track, and title track, “Human Question,” shifts gears with the sound of 80s rock and distorted grunge reverberating through the amps. Again, this is a sound that can be associated with and immediately recognized as that of The Yawpers. “Man As Ghost,” “Can’t Wait,” and “Where the Winters End” reveal a softer and contemplative side, blending touches of modern Americana and folk music. But, no song exhibits the band’s extended capabilities like “Carry Me,” a Gospel-soul burner that builds from hushed to impassioned, with the lead singer begging for salvation in full open-throated fervor by song’s end. Human Question is no doubt on track to be one of the best rock n’ roll release contenders so far this year.
The Yawpers played the Mercury Lounge in Tulsa, Oklahoma recently. The stage presence, musical competence and genius songwriting combine to make this three-man band a must see. Rock n’ roll is alive and well with The Yawpers. Go check out their tour dates and buy Human Question straight from the source.
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Cover Photo Courtesy of Lex Quinn