Music

Meet Rising UK Band YAK

text by Vrinda Jagota and Zuri Marley / photography by Damien Fry

British noise rock band YAK first started making music in 2014. Since then, the group, comprised of singer and guitarist Oliver Burslem, bassist Andy Jones, and drummer Elliot Rawson, released a single, "Hungry Heart," in February of 2015 with Fat Possum Records and an EP, No, on Jack White's label, Third Man Records later that October. This past May, they debuted their first album, Alas Salvation, and have since recorded a double a-side single "Heavens Above"/"Semi-Automatic" with Pulp's Steve Mackey that will be released on October 28th. When not busy in the studio, the trio has become known for their raucous live shows, which fans can get a taste of next month when they tour Europe and play at venues like Paris' La Maroquinerie and London's Scala. Amidst all this, we had the chance to meet the guys and talk to Elliot about TKTKTK.

How long have you guys known each other? How did the band form?

Oli [Oliver] and Andy have known each other for years, since they were little kids. They've hung around each other so long I think it's just out of habit now? I moved to London over three years ago and kept running into them while out. We started jamming together in the basement of Oli's old shop. There was no delusions of grandeur.... we were just jamming really. Then a friend offered us a gig so we had to get a few songs together and it kept rolling from there.

What are the personality types within the band?

The three of us all have quite different personalities I guess. It keeps things interesting but none of us are particularly sadistic so we can bare touring constantly together without too much tension... usually.

Where did the name come from?

We just wanted a name that was ambiguous, wasn't going to tie us down to any preconceived idea. YAK doesn't really mean anything to us so we can't get precious about it.

Do you guys identify with punk culture? What's your relationship like with the scene?

I guess you can argue that punk is about forgetting all that's come before and just trying to do something new, raw. I think we reference plenty of different things from the past -- even prog rock, which was punk's natural enemy so that's not very "punk".... but then does that then make it punk? It can make your head hurt worrying about that stuff...

Your music video for "Harbour The Feeling" was pretty dope -- what was the idea behind that?

Oli and (director) Ben Crook came up with that one between pint four and five I believe. By pint six they had the whole concept planned out -- Bucking Yak! Bright Lights! Shine! Showbiz! It's a bit of a tongue in cheek thing with the lyrics... plus who doesn't want to get a bunch of friends / oddballs on a bucking YAK and throw them off?

You guys have been touring a lot/playing a lot of shows, what's that like?

It's great, we've all worked a fair amount of shitty jobs so even when getting poured out of a cab at Stansted at 4am or sitting in a van for 9 hours with a fever, it's great getting all this energy pent up and then exploding on stage. Pressurize. Release. Repeat.


Stylist: Shade Huntley

Photo Assistant: Anya Broido

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