September 20, 2002

It’s fall and we’re happy.

We’ve just handed in all the parts for Nuclear War, a 12"/CDEP to be released on the Matador label in November. It will contain four versions of the song: one features Susie Ibarra, Daniel Carter, Sabir Mateen, Josh Madell, and Roy Campbell, Jr., and one is a mix by Mike Ladd. We’ll let the other two be a surprise.

Our dear friend Sue Garner has just released a fantastic new record, Shadyside, on the Thrill Jockey label. It features many beautiful songs, as well as contributions from Rick Brown, Marc Ribot, Jim O’Rourke, and James McNew. Sue and her new band (Mr. Brown, Ted Reichman, Doug Wieselman) will be hitting the road for a few select appearances – maybe even one near you!

Speaking of Thrill Jockey, David Bowie’s favorite label, they will be celebrating their 10th anniversary with the release of Looking For A Thrill, a DVD release, with about a zillion interviews with musicians telling stories about their formative musical experiences, including the three of us. But you really gotta watch out for that John McEntire one.

And speaking of dear friends, Chickfactor magazine has finally established its foothold on the web, and is poised for world takeover. Check out its web exclusives section for an interview with Georgia and her sister Emily, and a food diary James kept during the YLT tour of South America in 2001 (with photos). Better read that David Cross interview, while you’re at it, there’s some very pertinent info about us in there, too.

Here’s a link to an article Ira wrote this summer, for DIW (the magazine, not the Japanese jazz label). How about that salary cap agreement.

Here’s a link to a top-10 thingy James wrote, not knowing the formidable competition he was up against… oh well.

Answers are still coming in for the What James Saw competition. James is very busy, what with Fashion Week and all, but he’s tabulating the results and we’ll have ’em for you next time.

La Wanda Page RIP,

August 18, 2002

Hi everybody. The dog days of summer are in full dog here in the metropolitan area. We’ve been laying low, hard at work making up new songs, and figuring out when to record them (answer: soon!). Is that really all we have to report this time around? Almost!

We’ve already recorded one and a half songs for our forthcoming Christmas EP. And on Monday we’ll be entering a recording studio with a few special guests to record some material for a new CDEP/12" to be released this fall on Matador.

A Sean Quinn writes:

"Here is my guess about James’ summer viewing . . . My guess is that James will see exactly zero summer blockbusters this summer. Not a one. Instead, the good Mr. McNew will spend his time painting large scale watercolors of exotic insects. Any time away from this all-consuming passion will be spent ‘practicing his slider,’ if you know what I mean. Please tell me when I win."

James doesn’t know what you mean. James has, in fact, been to the movies this summer. The contest to guess which summer releases he has seen ends on Tuesday, so starting then, we’ll be accepting your guesses. (you see, Sean, much like the summer TV sensation "American Idol," only then will your entries be valid – the phone lines are not open yet) (and by the way, how could they vote off Tamyra before Nikki? you gotta be fucking kidding me) The first person who guesses correctly wins something. James hasn’t figured out what you win yet, he’s clearly a very busy man.

OK then. – YLT

July 24, 2002

Hi everybody. We just got back from doing the final scheduled performance of The Sounds Of Science at the Sonar festival in sunny Barcelona. Thanks to everyone who helped, and came to see it, and the many vastly gifted chefs and cortado-brewers of that beautiful city. And thanks to British Airways for not losing any of our bags, and for showing Ocean’s Eleven and two episodes of “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

The documentary about Georgia’s parents, Independent Spirits: The Faith and John Hubley Story, aired on PBS July 4th in NYC. Visit for more information and future airdates.

We are happy to announce that we are finally credit-card ready. Sheesh. Thank you for your patience and support on this matter.

How many summer blockbusters will James see this year? Has he already seen Undercover Brother? Did he camp out overnight for Scooby Doo tickets? Is he gearing up for that movie with the word "perdition" in the title? Psyched about Busta Rhymes vs. Michael Meyers? Could be! Keep track of what you think he’ll see, and then in August we’ll see who can guess correctly What James Saw. We’ll give away something nice to the winner. Saving Silverman one-sheet, anyone?

Everybody Loves Gregory: according to a reliable source, And Then Nothing… artist Gregory Crewdson was name-checked on a recent episode of HBO’s “Six Feet Under.” According to a not-very reliable source, one of those “Sex And The City” ladies wore an NNB t-shirt last week.

Have you found yourself with an odd craving for Starbucks Frappucino or Double Shot in the last week or two? Perhaps it has something to do with their latest tv ad campaign featuring all-new pieces of instrumental music written and performed by us. Watch this space for mp3’s of the music as part of our forthcoming feature: Yo La Tengo Sells Out.

Do you want to know a secret? Do you promise not to tell?

In the last couple of years, we’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with some amazing people: Terry Adams, Neil Innes, Jad Fair, Ray Davies, Roy Campbell, Jr., Susie Ibarra, the list goes on and on. When we got ready to record The Sounds of the Sounds of Silence, the three of us made individual wish lists of who we’d be most excited to work with, and one name and one name only appeared on all three. It seemed awfully far-fetched but it never hurts to ask. Amazingly our dream participant was available and willing. The only catch was we weren’t allowed to use his name on the record.

When we read the latest Mojo, one record review in particular inspired a last stab at getting permission to tell everybody about our guest musician. The answer was still no, but as consolation we were offered the opportunity to post his reminiscences of the sessions.

Amazing. Started off like The Beatles – harmonicas on it, a bit Revolver-ish, quite fast. We hit a brick wall, with loads of drums on it, bass and guitars and that stuff. And – I have to take credit for this – I said, ‘Give me 10 minutes,’ and Ira said ‘I don’t want it to be acoustic. It’ll be fuckin’ shite.’ Everyone went to the chippy, and came back and I was, ‘See? Now it’s "Norwegian Wood."’

Weller used our studio to do his new album, I was up there doin’ summat, and he left early. I had a song I’d written on holiday somewhere. It reminded me of ‘Rain.’ It started off acoustic and went more like Revolver, then we were looking for a guitar solo for months, everything I played was fuckin’ rubbish. Ira had a go, Georgia had a go, James had a go. Rubbish. So who do you call? Johnny Marr. He said, ‘Get us a black Les Paul, a fuckin’ Fender whatever amp it is, and a fuzz pedal,’ and just stood there and played this solo, beamed in from the planet rock. We don’t play it live, ‘cos it’s fuckin’ really difficult.

It’s a toss-up between this and ‘Hyas and Stenorhynchus’ for the third single. Me and Georgia were doing ‘Rock & Roll Santa’ up at our studio for the Just Shoot Me Christmas Special. We finished early as we usually do and I said, ‘I’ve got this tune.’ I was playing the same chords for four minutes, and everyone was looking at each other going (mimes incomprehension). I said, ‘Just give me 5 minutes.’ I’d done the demo, I sang it once, put the harmonies on; our keyboard player put three solos on – Mellotron, Hammond, pump organ – all three were shockingly bad, but when we put them together it sounded perfect. As we lived with it, we thought, ‘That’s the song.’ I wrote it on a Sunday morning, I was living in a hotel, it defined what I was feeling at the time.

A fantastic song. James had three bits of music which he was trying to make into songs. I remember being in a dressing room in America somewhere, me and Ira standing over him, saying, ‘Why don’t you put all three together?’ – ‘Are you allowed to do that?’ – ‘Oh yeah, it’s in the manual.’ We recorded it on a little ghetto blaster and he went, ‘Fuckin’ ‘ell that’s brilliant.’ That song’ll stand up in years to come. Saying that, he’s setting himself really high standards for the next album. Now he’ll find out what the press are like – I say to him, ‘Try writing "Live Forever" when you’re 24.’ You really shouldn’t be doing that until your 30s. He doesn’t understand what that means, but he will next time he comes to write a record.

Started out as a plaintive acoustic number. Then we decided we hadn’t used a proper string section for a while. It’s about redemption. It was the last song written for the album. Will it be Number 1 for a long time? It’ll be Number 1 for a week and sell three million copies in an afternoon and then none the next week, as usual.

A riff from the Be Here Now tour. I bought an electric sitar in San Francisco and started playing that riff. We were doing one of Georgia’s songs and I started playing the riff. Georgia went, ‘That’s fuckin’ mega.’ For a long time it was an instrumental, then I sang some stream of consciousness words, and everyone was, ‘Aww, man, it should be the first single.’ I said ‘I’m gonna change the lyrics’ and Georgia said, ‘You should make it the most Yo La Tengo-sounding song you’ve ever written.’ Then I knew – it’s gonna be the fuckin’ most optimistic song. It was gonna be a single in October but it was too dirgey. To justify coming back after a two-year lay off, it had to be the fuckin’ bollocks.

James’ ‘I Don’t Want To be A Soldier.’ It’s the blues, innit? I don’t like talking about his songs ‘cos he’ll be ‘It’s fuckin’ not about that at all you cunt!’ I’ve no idea what it’s about but when I heard it, I thought, that’s a Yo La Tengo song. He didn’t expect it to get on the album, he thought it would be a B-side. Great, but it’s better live than on the record.

Ira’s. ‘I swing through trees/ with Tarzan on harmonies for free.’ Fuckin’ amazin’ lyrics. Liam got inspired by it immediately, which is always a sign that it’s good. Great to play live.

May 18, 2002

Painleve showHello.

Thanks to all the nice people who came to our Painleve shows last month, and those who helped us put on the shows (especially the emergency rescue projectionist in Boston). We had a lot of fun. We’ll be doing this presentation one more time, at the Sonar Festival in Barcelona on Friday, June 14. After that? We dunno.

Also, extra-special thanks to everyone who was kind enough to buy our Sounds of The Sounds of Science CD through the mail, old-school money-order style. We apologize again for the delay in credit card technology on our part. What else can we say, besides "what a goddamn pain in the ass." But it’s coming, and soon, we swear.

ortho cover artThere’s a new edition of Full Swing’s Edits series of EP’s, and on this new one (#4), we are his source material. It’s on Kit Clayton’s awfully good Orthlorng Musork record label. It’s available from them, or also from your finer record sellers.

Gregory Crewdson, whose photos comprised the artwork for And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, is having two shows this spring and summer. If you’re in the area, please stop by and view his mind-boggling work. If you’re not, then plan a trip.

Luhring Augustine
531 West 24th St. (between 10 and 11th Ave.), NYC
Tues-Sat 10-6, through June 15

Gagosian Gallery
456 N. Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, CA
June 29 – August 3, Tues-Sat 10-6

gorilla suitWhere do songs come from?

It’s been so long, we forget. So now we’re going to buckle down and make up some new ones. We’ll keep you posted.

April 17, 2002

Our first news update. This is exciting.

First of all, we’ll address our biggest recent news event. All we can really say is we’re happy everyone was found safe and sound, and that guy’s copy of the Squirrel Bait EP is up on Ebay (all proceeds going to the New Giant Fan for the 40-Watt Foundation). God bless.

What have we been up to? We recently completed our 6th annual appearance on WFMU ‘s pledge drive. The rules: we play live on the air for 2 hours, taking requests from listeners, with no advance knowledge of what they could be, making fools of ourselves for a good cause, and occasionally getting some words right. Sitting in with the group this year were the intrepid WFMU-session guitarist Bruce Bennett, and a jet-lagged Hamish Kilgour on various percussion instruments. "Highlights" of the 25 attempts included "You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet," "Meet The Mets," "I Think We’re Alone Now," "Jailbreak," "Do Ya Think I’m Sexy," "Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Build Me Up Buttercup," and 18 more. (Note: we’re sorry if we didn’t get to your request – there were an awful lot of them – nothing personal.) Thanks to the many great people at WFMU for having us back again.

April will be a busy month for us, and not just because of the new-look Mets. First of all, we’re proud to announce the release of The Sounds Of The Sounds Of Science, a new cd of instrumental music, on our own Egon label. We’ve also been presenting some special live performances of the album – we play the music from the cd live as the following 8 short films by legendary French undersea enthusiast Jean Painleve are projected above us:

  1. Hyas and Stenorhynchus
  2. Sea Urchins
  3. How Some Jellyfish Are Born
  4. Liquid Crystals
  5. The Sea Horse
  6. The Love Life of the Octopus
  7. Shrimp Stories
  8. Acera or the Witches’ Dance

The music is all unique to this performance, not even versions of previously played or released material. The films themselves are truly sensational. To term them documentaries, while accurate, implies a dryness and a sobriety that couldn’t be more misleading. It’s somewhat similar to Microcosmos, but with a sense of humor as well. Amazing movies. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which we’d do this show again in any city in which we’ve done it before. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever done. And, anybody who shows up high will probably not regret it.

There’s also a great book about Painleve called Science Is Fiction that is worth looking into if the films strike your fancy.

The Ray Davies/ Kinks tribute record This Is Where I Belong has finally been released, on the Rykodisc/ Praxis label. We appear towards the end, doing a version of “Fancy.” The record also features a mind-boggling rendition of “Stop Your Sobbing” by Jonathan Richman, and a creepy version of the already kinda creepy “Art Lover” by Lambchop. Really nice photography, hilarious liner notes by the man himself, and a bunch of other nice interpretations make this a lovely package — it’s not just a 3-track tribute album, wouldn’t that be depressing for Ray?

Here’s a link to a hilarious interview James did with the up-and-coming group Galaxie 500 back in 1989. While you’re there, look around and enjoy the brand new Damon and Naomi site.

TV: We watch it all the time, and you should, too.

On June 13, 1997, while loading in at our in-store at the Virgin Megastore on Sunset Boulevard, YLT tour manager Joe Puleo rode in a freight elevator with Keifer Sutherland. Next week, you will be able to hear a bit of our song “Saturday” on an episode of Mr. Sutherland’s Emmy-winning show “24.” Coincidence? You may have also heard one of our songs in a recent episode of the critically-acclaimed “Six Feet Under” program on HBO (as payment, we’ve strongarmed HBO into rush-releasing the “Mr. Show” DVDs. No word yet on getting “Attack On Love” on “Pimps Up, Ho’s Down 2,” but we’re working on it).

"My Little Corner of the World" will soon be featured on not one but two compilation records. It will be the titular cut on the Gilmore Girls record soon coming on Rhino, and is also the climactic number on Greasy Kids Stuff: Songs From Inside the Radio, on the Confidential label, out now, possibly. Check it out here.

Guess that’s it for now. See ya soon.