A Barbaric Yawp: The Yawpers Push the Limits

Photo : George L. Blosser
Photo : George L. Blosser

Photo : George L. Blosser

The Yawpers are the greatest band in America. They’re often billed as an alt-country band, and that’s landed them opening spots for some names in the industry, but after a Yawpers set (sweaty, mean and libidinous) those bands are revealed for what they are: bland-rock guitar strummers who are now, in their later years, playing music as a hobby and as a way to shore up their aging egos. The music is safe and charming and flaccid and weak. It’s embarrassing to watch, but it also has the feel of natural selection; the young, strong wolf tearing out the throat of the old and weak. There just ain’t enough meat to go around.

The Yawpers are pushing the limits of everything around them, on stage and off. They are rebelling against the tired and the safe. They’re rebelling against the well-rested, vegan-minded, live slow and die old approach to popular music that some of us consider to be the ultimate betrayal of rock and roll. The first time I saw them was at the Swing Station in Laporte, a little over three years ago. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was the best bar show I’d ever experienced. I approached lead singer Nate Cook, after the show and told him that if The Yawpers didn’t hit it big then I didn’t understand the world we live in. Then I offered to buy him some whiskey in return for the show he’d just given me. I blacked out twice that night. Seriously. I blacked out, came to and blacked out again. We became close friends soon after.

I was there when they first played Hodi’s. There for the first Aggie show. There when Noah Shomberg joined as their drummer. I was having a quiet afternoon beer with Nate when he received the call that they were getting signed to Bloodshot Records. Later that evening, we were thrown out of two bars and almost got him banned from playing his FoCoMX gig the following evening. I have been whipped by strippers at a bachelor party with Nate, scored coke with him on a dirt road in Costa Rica. I climbed on top of his tour van as he drunkenly drove down a street in Fort Collins. I took a punch from him in a mosh pit in Austin that tore my ear drum. I drove the whole band across Nebraska while still very drunk from the night before. Not sure I ever told them that little tid-bit.

I don’t say all of this to brag. Well, maybe a little. I’m a pretty fun dude. But the reason I’m telling you this is to make two points. One, I would argue that I am more qualified than anyone on Earth, outside of the band, to tell you what The Yawpers are all about. And two, to illustrate to you that these guys aren’t just preaching rock and roll. They’re living it.

Their album, American Man, was released in October and it is one of the best records you will ever own. There’s nothing safe about it. It is American music, through and through; visceral from the first note. It won’t help you fall gently to sleep. It won’t shut down your mind with the blandness of euphoria. You won’t play it during yoga. This album will make you feel and think. It will make you act. You will rise up when you hear it. And once felt, it will not be forgotten.

In a time of politically correct, prefabricated comfort and security, The Yawpers are setting fire to houses at night, having just finished playing sold-out shows across our region. They want to burn down everything that doesn’t matter so we can see what’s left once the ashes blow away. As far as I’m concerned, it’s about fucking time.
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