Yard Act have spoken to NME about their new single ‘Trench Coat Museum’ and what to expect from their next album.
The Leeds band have been playing the new song at recent gigs, and NME caught up with the band to talk about the track and their next steps during their recent hometown residency at the Brudenell Social Club.
“That’s going to be the next single,” frontman James Smith revealed. “It’s out in a few weeks. It’s a stand-alone single and not on the next record. It sets up the second album; it just didn’t fit correctly on it.
“The narrative and the flow of an album is so important. It’s really important to me that the story makes sense. I see it as an advert or a trailer for album two. It touches on the same themes.”
Elaborating on the themes of the new track, Smith added: “It’s basically about ego, perception, ownership and recognition. I started writing it when I realised what the trench coat had come to symbolise. There were multiple people who had gone to fancy dress parties as me, wearing just a trench coat and glasses. That’s funny itself, but I realised how much I loved it but that it had become a cloak to protect me so that I could be this amplified and more obscene version of myself for performance. I’d take the trench coat off and just go back to being me.
“The first trench coat I wore belonged to Ryan and I took it off the coat rack before the first gig we played. He was like, ‘Are you wearing my coat?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s funny isn’t it?’ It was a joke and a trope of what post-punk is. I loved it and felt more confident.”
The frontman added: “I was also thinking a lot about why I was obsessed with my own image. I was looking at pictures of myself and seeing what other people see. They see this character and cartoon that I leant into. When you do, you get more out of it. That’s the thing about pop culture: oversized characters get more attention. I was ready to step away from that because I didn’t want to be trapped by it. We have a lot more to give than we’ve given so far.”
Going on to discuss their second album and follow-up to debut ‘The Overload‘, Smith said: “It’s an album about getting everything you ever wanted and realising that the misery and problems still exist all the same. It’s an album about being away from my family and being in a professional band for a job – which sounds like really boring subject matter, doesn’t it?”
“It’s a funny version of that though, isn’t it?” bassist Ryan Needham added. “Our take on a classic!”
Smith went on: “Oh, that dreaded second album of writing about being in a van for 18 months? That’s not what we’ve done.”
Of their musical evolution on LP2, Needham added: “It does feel like a large stride for us, musically. After doing remixes for other bands and dipping our toes into other genres, we realised the music can do anything. James’ voice and lyrics stamp it as a Yard Act album, but we’re pretty free beyond that.”
Smith then discussed how the band’s confidence has “grown massively. The label have been nothing but supportive of what we want to do and – while I know it sounds schmaltzy – we’ve got a fanbase who understand that we’re not a post-punk band. They’re invested in that. It’s got so much room to grow away from where we’ve started.”
He added: “Part of the first album’s charm is that we didn’t overthink any of it. I’d put effort into everything my entire creative life and yielded poor results, so for the first time I just didn’t expect anything from this or put much into it, and it turned out to be ace. I didn’t want to repeat the formula of that, so this time it’s a much more crafted and meticulous piece. Everyone has worked equally on it. It’s been the most fruitful and enjoyable thing I’ve done creatively.”
During their Brudenell residency, Yard Act were joined by the likes of Nish Kumar, CMAT and Phill Jupitus, with whom they covered Chumbawamba‘s hit ‘Tubthumping’.
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