Independent's Day

Pete Yorn may have signed a big record contract, but he didn't stop doing it himself

DO: Yeah, I do. But that quality also makes me wonder who this record is connecting with. Because it kind of dips from a bunch of different wells; it doesn't really have a built-in audience.

PY: I didn't know what the audience would be. I'm just for the first time seeing who the fans are, going out and touring. It's all over the place. It's total indie-rocker guys and girls, total frat guys, old guys and old girls, sometimes young, high school kids. Which I think is cool. A lot of bands that I love, I've always thought of them being more from the indie scene or just stuff that was never mainstream. But it's cool to see [my record] embraced by kind of mainstream people as well.

DO: It seemed like the record came out of nowhere.

PY: It did. It came out of nowhere to the label, too. They were like, "Huh?"

DO: What were those first couple of tours like, before anyone had heard you?

PY: This is our second headline tour. After we started getting fans and all that, when we did our first headlining tour, compared to the two opening tours we did before that, it was just like night and day. Like, holy shit. Just having everyone at the club know the record and everything like that, or most of the people anyway, just makes it really fun. The first tour we did was with Sunny Day Real Estate, and that was last October, way before the record came out, and that was really cool. No one knew who the hell we were, but we'd just go out and try and win these people over. I'll see on the message boards or I'll meet people who are like, "Dude, I saw you when you played with Sunny Day!" And we'll have fans from that. The day after the record came out, we went on tour with Semisonic. We won a lot of fans from that, too. Then we went out with Blues Traveler, which was totally a different type of experience, different type of fans, older crowd. But they were also into what we were doing.

DO: There was a total press blitz when the record was released.

PY: I'm thankful for that. That helped me so much. My label, they like my record and they were into it, but they didn't really know what they were gonna do with it. And when they sent the advances out and the press came back so favorable, it made the label like, "Whoa, we better fucking get behind this."

DO: A part of the attention seemed to be connected to this whole idea that the singer-songwriter is making a comeback. Guys like David Gray were being talked about a lot, and you sort of got roped into that scene. Do you feel like you're a part of it at all?

PY: I don't know. It's cool to be a part of that. I don't really feel like I connect with David Gray so much, even though he's cool, he's a good songwriter. It's just good to see that the singer-songwriter can garner some attention right now. I'm just happy to be in the game right now.

DO: The big question that records like yours and Badly Drawn Boy's--

PY: I like Badly Drawn Boy a lot.

DO: I figured you would, from the sound of your record. What I think the two albums have in common is that they both use elements of recording and the studio to sort of edge away from more standard singer-songwriter fare. But then the question is whether people are attracted to that because it's a refreshing change from the overload of teen-pop and rap-metal, or whether those recording elements are a way to keep up with that, to not get lost in the fray.

PY: I don't know. That's a heavy question. I mean, people our age, we've seen at most two cycles of music, where it goes super pop and then it gets super dark. One theory could be that people... Everything sounds the same over and over again--all these bands, they look the same, they sound the same. And something that's just kind of a little different, sometimes people gravitate towards that. And they almost set themselves up for that, when something is embraced so much by pop culture--it's totally setting itself up for the pendulum to swing back, inevitably. But that's just a theory. I just think that there's a large audience of people out there who appreciate a certain kind of music and a certain kind of sensibility, and they just need to know where to find it. And it's cool that a little bit more you can find in mass media what a few months ago was harder to find.

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