November 23, 2003

Just in time for Christmas, we are pleased to announce that our Merry Christmas from Yo La Tengo cd is nearly out of print. Last orders, as they say at our local.

The ancient Greeks had a word for it: synchronicity (hang on, that was Sting). At nearly the precise moment that Dump was rocking the Double Door in Chicago on November 22, opening a rare Eleventh Dream Day show, Georgia and Ira, who had been minding their business watching an equally rare A-Bones reunion, found themselves replacing Miriam on drums and Bruce on guitar midsong, a finale only the A-Bones could conceive.

Did you catch "Autumn Sweater" on 24 a few weeks ago? We were watching and we missed it, though now that I think of it I never saw Keifer Sutherland either. Maybe we were watching the wrong show. 24‘s the one with Ron Silver as the porno king, right?

Wig in a Box, the Hedwig tribute record, is out. It includes us backing Yoko Ono on "Hedwig’s Lament" and "Exquisite Corpse." And very cool contributions from Sleater-Kinney & Fred Schneider, Robyn Hitchcock, Spoon, and Jonathan Richman, to name just the ones we’re naming. Art work by Georgia’s sister Emily and nephew Max.

We’re enjoying Arrested Development as much as the next man, maybe more than the next man (except that episode that David Cross wasn’t in — the only negative words we have to say about Liza Minnelli is that SHE IS NO DAVID CROSS. There, I said it) but if those guys make one more crappy Dr. Seuss movie . . . well, I just don’t want to think about it. So don’t.

November 4, 2003

Happy Halloween from Hoboken, where the band members are pleased to announce that, collectively, we have now gone 16 consecutive years without being egged. In other holiday news, this time not so pleasant, and in response to many questions we’ve received, we regret to announce that this year we will not be performing the eight nights of Hanukkah at Maxwell’s, or anywhere else for that matter. It was a difficult decision to make, and we’re not going to provide much in the way of details, although we will categorically deny that the competition between James’s mom and Ira’s mom for whose hamentashen we preferred last Purim had anything to do with our decision. We can’t let the season go altogether, so please join us at the Onion’s Xmas shindig at Northsix in Brooklyn, and at Maxwell’s on New Year’s Eve.

Backpedaling to the holiday of Thanksgiving, or to be precise the day after, we want to alert those in the New York area to a one-week theatrical run of the documentary about Georgia’s parents that some of you may have seen on PBS not too long ago. It’ll be shown at the Quad, along with two of her parents’ films.

The New York Times of November 2 ran a great piece on the Hubleys in the holiday films section. Keep in mind that you have to register at this site, so people who follow the link will be challenged for username/password if they are not already cookied on the site.

And now through the miracle of the worldwide web, we invite you to virtually join us for our virtual U.S. tour of September/October 2003. Enjoy . . .

9/10/03: Richmond, VA, opening night aerial view of the Aislers Set. l-r: Dan, Amy, Yoshi, Alicia. You can’t see Wyatt. That’s the price you pay for the aerial view. Lesson learned.

 

9/12/03: Peach pie from Picnic’s, Asheville NC. The sign outside says "mom’s homemade pies" and it’s not wrong. We met mom, and she makes a hell of a pie. We’re currently booking shows in Asheville for next peach season. Get yo’ tickets now.

 

9/12/03: The signs said "this way to world’s largest peanut" – what were we supposed to do? We’re not made of stone, people. It’s in Ashburn, GA, the town which also lays claim to the Crime and Punishment Museum (and its restaurant, the Last Meal Cafe) (that’s right), the Keith-A-Que (try the butt sandwich), and the annual Fire Ant Festival. Best refueling stop ever.

 

9/13/03: Ah, mais oui! We let the bon temps roulet at the Florida Theater in Jacksonville. Marshall Crenshaw opened the show with a great solo set. Later in the night someone in the audience was hit in the head with a shoe.

 

9/16/03: Yarrrrr! Pirate-themed mini-golf in Orlando, FL. 4th hole. Ira beat James fair and square, no matter what you hear.

 

9/16/03: In Tampa, YLT soundman and film buff Mark Luecke visits the bar named after his favorite movie of all time.

 

9/20/03: There it is, brisket from Louie Mueller’s, Taylor, TX.

 

9/21/03: Rocking the jumbotron at the Austin City Limits-a-palooza.

 

9/24/03: Who doesn’t like getting presents from their fans? This new hood ornament for our van might be the best one ever, found at an estate sale in St. Louis and delivered to us in Columbia, MO.

 

9/25/03: St. Louis, MO: famous for the Arch, Bob Costas, Dawn Sutter, Cedric the Entertainer, and snoots. Here’s a picture of some snoots. We’ve run too many photos of Costas as it is.

 

9/28/03: Ah, there’s Wyatt, in front of Poochie’s, in Skokie, IL. This is truly one of our nation’s finest hot doggeries. Wiggity wiggity word up rock on party!

9/28/03: We went to the Chicago Cubs’ final regular season game, at beautiful Wrigley Field. They had clinched the division the day before, and the crowd was subdued and hung over… that is, until the 7th inning stretch, when Jim Belushi came out and sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"!!!! The Belush!!! The excitement was too much for one Windy City rock superstar who left right after The Belush threw down. Hint: it wasn’t Jan Terri…or was it?

 

10/11/03: The Sun Ra Arkestra joined the tour for the last four shows. Good lord almighty. Here they are in full interstellar groove mode in Philadelphia.

July 18, 2003

Hi everybody. Sorry it’s been so long since our last update, but you know how inconvenient this whole internet thing can be. We’ve been on tour pretty much non-stop since we last wrote. Who knew it’d be so much fun? Who knew Gilberto Gil wore such nice shoes? Who knew Hamish was the older Kilgour? Who knew about all those Swedish drinking songs? Who knew Cyril Jordan knew his own songs a little better than Richard Meltzer knew his? Who knew we’d get to meet one of Dow Jones & the Industrials? Boise–who knew? Who knew Icelandic bus drivers hated pants? Who knew the Nets would sign Alonzo Mourning? Who knew ATP Los Angeles would get cancelled? No, seriously, that one’s not rhetorical. Who knew that jazz legends Yes and Krokus would be playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival? Who knew Henry Rollins was so muscular? There’s so much we’ve learned over the last few months of touring. We’ve been almost everywhere, eaten almost everything, and rocked almost everyone. We took baths in Bath, played "Stockholm Syndrome" in Stockholm, and ate Danish in Copenhagen. But we’re not done yet, oh no. At the end of July we’re off to the esteemed Fuji Rock festival in Japan, and then it’s on to Australia for four kanga-riffic shows. Then we’ll set out in America again in September and October. Back to Japan in December. And more. We just can’t stop it, people.

Speaking of October, that’s when the Matador label will be releasing Today Is the Day, a six-song EP by us. It contains 6 songs, including the version of the titluar song we’ve been playing live recently, and a few no one’s ever heard.

Who is that guy, that eagle, and that octopus interviewing Ira in those clips? It’s none other than Jon Benjamin, and his co-hosts Scott Fellers and Lumpy, stars of the Midnight Pajama Jam. Have you ever seen anything like it? No, you have not. Their site has links to some amazing movies and other great stuff. Jon’s also part of the Tinkle crew here in the metropolitan area, and with his buddy Jon Glaser, they rock as Clap Attack, and as the mighty Soundtrackapella. Give it up for ’em.

Speaking of stuff, does anyone have NTSC tapes of the 3rd Alan Partridge series? Contact us at once.

Jutta Brandt is a very nice lady from Hamburg, Germany, who takes beautiful photos. Sometimes we’re even in them. She’s just put up a site featuring her work, so please go and have a look at www.juttabrandt.com.

Speaking of pictures of us, Jim Woodring drew a really cool one of us for The Stranger a few months ago. Here’s a photo of the picture. Congratulations to Jim on the release of his new Frank compendium, and his well-earned Japanese stardom.

See ya soon, if you live in Japan or Australia. So long, Spree.

xo ylt

Our award-winning team coverage of team Yo La Tengo news continues with:

highlights of festival season, by james

  • rollins band’s black flag set at dour festival, belgium
  • chillin’ with singer from rollins band
  • el-p, "patriotism," at primavera, barcelona
  • teenage fanclub opening with "everything flows" at primavera
  • playing opposite mogwai at glastonbury
  • eavesdropping on another band’s take on how life is and shit, roskilde festival, denmark
  • the freddie mercury statue, montreux jazz festival
  • gilberto gil and maria bethania at montreux
  • dirt, dirt, dirt.
  • urine, urine, urine.
  • . . . and continues with travel editor, Ira:

    There’s never been a better time to fly, as evidenced by the Rock United playlist for May-June 2003:

    Beggars Group and Matador Records present…

    • Danger! High Voltage (SoulChild Radio Mix) Electric Six
      Danger! High Voltage XL Recordings / Beggars Group 6 34904115722
    • Indiscretion #243 Aereogramme
      Sleep and Release Matador 7 44861057123
    • (Do Not Feed the) Oyster Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks
      Pig Lib Matador 7 44861057222
    • Coming in from the Cold The Delgados
      Hate Mantra / Beggars Group 6 09008103425
    • I Don’t Blame You Cat Power
      You Are Free Matador 7 44861042723
    • Portia Throwing Muses
      Throwing Muses 4AD / Beggars Group 6 52637230123
    • Little Eyes Yo La Tengo
      Summer Sun Matador 7 44861054825
    • The Final Arrears Mull Historical Society
      US XL Recordings / Beggars Group 6 07618503420

    . . . and concludes with this in-depth report on one of the tour’s highlights from Georgia:

    One of the bigger regrets I have from my youth took place the summer that I bailed on my sister (at the last minute) and our plan to drive across the country together in her dodge dart swinger. If memory serves, she wanted to bring her new friend along who I wasn’t so sure about at the time, so I was kind of pissed. They ended up going without me and had a memorable time to say the least. And I can’t remember ANYTHING I did that summer except that I missed out on that trip with the 2 of them, which of course would have been great, and I didn’t see either Roky Erickson and the Aliens or the Flamin’ Groovies play in LA.

    Shake Some Action (by the Flamin’ Groovies) became my favorite newfound record that summer and luck would have it that THIS summer I would find myself playing drums with Cyril Jordan on "Shake Some Action," a song I distinctly remember playing along with when I was learning to play drums in my mother’s apartment. Usually I am a bit of a crank when it’s time to be sentimental–but this was GOOSEBUMP CITY all the way! I mean "Shake Some Action" might be the best rock’n’roll song ever! And that moment of anticipation right as the 2nd chorus ended and Cyril was about to launch into the guitar solo, the very one we KNEW he would play note for note like he did on record some 25 or so years before…wow, what a thrill…anyway, other highlights from the summer tour include walking up and saying "hi" to Jennifer Coolidge in West Hollywood as well as Robin Williams who we spotted eating a hot dog on a street corner in Vancouver. Maybe it was a "not" dog, I didn’t ask.

    And then we were in Europe for 3 weeks. I watched a couple of ducks fighting in a park. Actually that was Canada.

    April 18, 2003


     

    Here we go! Spring is springing, we’ve just completed our first few weeks of touring, and the Yo La Tengo Glee Club Singers (see photo, with soundman/alto Mark Luecke at left) are ready for more. So many memories…so many great sets by Portastatic; three shows with the Sun Ra Arkestra’s Tyrone Hill, Dave Davis and Danny Ray Thompson sitting in with us; playing "Nuclear War" in New York with all-kid backup singers; a "Speeding Motorcycle" with Daniel Johnston in Toronto (from where we escaped with our health intact, so far); and the New York Knicks are rested and ready for next year’s playoffs. In a few days we’ll be overseas, touring for three blissful weeks in Europe and the UK, where no one shouts "Free Bird" at shows.

    Almost time to stop typing, our ride to the airport is here. But before we go, we’d like to clear up a bit of blasphemy we perpetrated. First off, we had no idea the matzos in Boston weren’t kosher for Passover. Seriously. We make no pretense of being religious, but we’re all about the live and the let live–we weren’t trying to poison anybody. On the same train of thought, we want to thank email correspondent Scott Douglas who answered an extremely muddled question we posed on stage at the 930 Club in D.C.:

    The answer to "Do Ash Wednesday and Passover always coincide?" is, "They never do." Ash Wednesday falls 40 days before Easter, and marks the beginning of Lent. Although the date varies, it’s always in February, which is why Mardi Gras (aka Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent on which, traditionally, people used up cooking oil not to be eaten during Lent) is always in February. You must have been thinking of Holy Wednesday, the Wednesday before Easter. (The follow-up answer is, No, this doesn’t always coincide with Passover, given how both holidays move throughout the calendar year. That said, it’s nice when the Jews and Gentiles have something in common, doncha think?)

    Yes, that is nice. And it makes us especially happy we didn’t bring up Arbor Day at the Beacon Theater.

    OK, thanks for coming and see ya soon,
    YLT.

    April 10, 2003

    Don’t think for a minute we wouldn’t prefer to keep the news aspect of these updates heavily in quotes. It could be petty bickering with email correspondents or fake song titles from albums in progress–as long as we’re keeping you uninformed in the guise of doing the exact opposite, we’re satisfied. But sometimes that’s just impossible. Now is one of those times. What a week-plus it’s been.

    First off, both Summer Sun and A Grown-Ass Man have been released, and we’re thrilled to announce that everybody who’s heard them LOVES them. Really–we never expected such unanimity, and we’re truly humbled by your appreciation.

    We launched Summer Sun the only way (in retrospect) possible: with a beach-themed record-release party at NYC’s Other Music while the city streets were covered with inches of slushy gook too unpleasant to even term snow. Matador staffers handed out free beer (but only to those with two pieces of photo id). We took turns dj’ing, under the protective cover of brave Other Music employees while they shielded our heads and records from flying promotional beach balls. Georgia played "Teenage Riot" by Portuguese Joe. James played "Girl/Boy" by Aphex Twin. Ira played Richie Van’s cover of "Joy to the World." Then we went home.

    A weekend earlier, by overwhelming demand, New York’s beloved noisemakers Salmon Skin reunited for a farewell performance at the brand new Sin-é, to wish drummer Dan Brown a safe relocation to Los Angeles. Founding members Jeff Cashvan and Steve Thornton were resplendent in wedding dress and electric suit respectively. Auxiliary guitarist Georgia Hubley was inaudible, causing particular disappointment to the gearheads in the audience (i.e. all of us) who were dying to find out how her guitar for the evening’s built-in effects worked. In a stunning development, the group actually managed to complete their set without being forcibly ejected from the stage or banned from future appearances, perhaps a first for the combo (Mr. Cashvan’s firecracker outburst apparently was deemed too little, too late). They will be missed.

    The following evening, Hubley was back in the Ludlow groove, this time with her Yo La Tengo bandmates in tow. We made an appearance at Tinkle, the criminally underpublicized weekly comedy show hosted by Todd Barry, Jon Benjamin and David Cross. After a huge build-up that promised the premiere of a theme song we had written expressly for Tinkle, we came on stage and played "Tequila," to the comic consternation of our hosts. We left the stage, proverbial tails between our literal legs, only to return at the end of the night with a triumphant offering of "Batman (Tinkle)." Obviously, you had to be there. And if you’ve ever tried to get into Tinkle before, you know that that was impossible.

    Are we really saving the best for last? Yes. Just hours ago, we convened at a Brooklyn recording studio to record the songs "Hedwig’s Lament" and "Exquisite Corpse" for a Hedwig and the Angry Inch tribute record that will come out later this year on Off, and benefit the Harvey Milk School. Sitting in with the group, on lead vocals, was none other than Yoko Ono. We were there and we still don’t believe it. In between takes, Yoko regaled us with anecdotes about Elephant’s Memory and David Peel. (Did you know that Peel actually loathed marijuana? True story.)

    Next stop: Columbus, Ohio.

    And we’re on our way.

    March 25, 2003

    It seems odd to be writing any kind of What’s New with Yo La Tengo update right now, but then again if the afternoon edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is back on the air (and it was, last time I looked) . . . I don’t know how to end that sentence.

    Are you reading this from anywhere near New York City? We’re going to have a little midnight madness record release party at Other Music. It’ll start around 11 pm on April 7. We’ll post the details as soon as it’s all set.

    We got back from our brief 4-show tour. It seemed to go pretty well, although once again P.T. Barnum was proved correct–You can’t please all of the people all of the time. An email correspondent writes:

    "Yo La Tengo started quietly, letting us know that they had a new album coming out in days, thus they would be playing a lot of songs we would not know. That in itself acceptable, yet the tone in voice was one of resignation to being stuck on a stage doing something apparently unloved. The band plodded through song after song as if stamping and filing at the unfulfilling desk job in the nondescript cubicle."

    Is that what it seemed like? I can say that’s 100% inaccurate in terms of discerning our state of mind. We must have been playing pretty badly to give that impression. But there’s more:

    "Somewhere along the way, the Glands were thanked for playing the opening slot. A generous yet standard gesture from the nationally renowned headliners. Athens was then cited as a ‘very important city‘ for live music. Thank you, Yo La Tengo, for the respect this city deserves. What followed, though, was reprehensible; Yo La Tengo let it be known that it was nice to finally see a good band come out of Athens. I couldn’t believe what I had heard. Many of the people around me at the show were local musicians. Many of the bands they play in I see and enjoy regularly. They may not (yet or ever) have national recognition, they may not (yet or ever) have critical acclaim, they may not (yet or ever) appeal to Yo La Tengo, but to single handedly dismiss them was the ultimate in disrespect."

    Oh my god. You know, it’s a rock cliché to get so burned out from touring that you forget what day it is and what city you’re in. All I can say in my defense is that I was clearly so fried from touring that I forgot all about R.E.M. and the B-52’s and Pylon and the Method Actors and Love Tractor and Neutral Milk Hotel and Vic Chestnutt and the Bruces and . . .

    "I watched as the crowd slowly thinned. Was this comment the cause? I believe, I hope, so."

    Could be. Or it could be that in our bored, apathetic way we played for almost two hours, right through last call.

    "I stayed a little longer, hoping that the night would be saved in some way. It was not. When I finally left after about twenty minutes of endless indie-rock jamming, I felt that I had wasted twenty-eight dollars of my hard earned money."

    Don’t most people who come to see us know to expect at least twenty minutes of endless indie-rock jamming? And if it’s "about twenty minutes" can it really be termed "endless"?

    "Worse, I felt that I had wasted a few hours of my precious time, time that would have been much better spent lying on the couch watching network sitcom reruns."

    That is precious time.

    "What will I do now? I will not buy the new Yo La Tengo disc. I will not buy older Yo La Tengo discs that I do not already own. I will not see another Yo La Tengo show. I will buy CDs and see shows of the great new Athens bands who enjoy what they are doing and appreciate the people that come out to see them. I will buy CDs and see shows of touring acts whose rock star posturing consists of ‘Are you ready to rock, Athens, GA?’ and ‘Thank you, we love you, good night,’ instead of jaded rock ‘stars’ who could appear to care less about their audience."

    Thank you, we love you, good night.

    Finally, in our photo gallery, a few of the singers on "Nuclear War" were caught on film at last Saturday’s antiwar march in New York City. That’s Leila Rosenthal on the left with her American flag/peace combo; Isaac Hubley’s in the foreground, his Bush Is a Bum sign didn’t make the photo; behind him; sneaking her arm into the shot is Hillary Hubley, you can see some of her Drop Bush, Not Bombs sign; and on the right, holding his Stop Operation American Empire sign high is Max Rosenthal.