Yautja Discuss The Stormy Metallic Hardcore Frenzy Of Their Wild New Record

On their new album The Lurch, which is available now via Relapse Records, the Nashville trio known as Yautja sound like… well, Yautja.

Below, check out a Q & A with the group’s bassist/ vocalist Kayhan Vaziri about the new record! First, check out a review:

Delivering a gnarled take on hard-hitting metallic hardcore alongside weighty atmosphere like what could be found across metal-oriented genres, the group’s thoroughly jarring sound, while definitely not off-puttingly inaccessible, is unique. It’s not exactly a blend; instead, Yautja seem like they’ve somehow dissolved the otherwise perhaps disparate elements of their sonic presentation, crafting a unified, caustic tidal wave of music that demolishes almost everything in its path.

The Lurch, while intricate, also consistently proves straightforwardly forceful to a profoundly staggering degree, and the performances remain formidable. Drummer Tyler Coburn, guitarist Shibby Poole, and bassist Kayhan Vaziri — who all share vocal duties — never seem to falter (unless they mean to). The songs (among other impressions) impart strength, with thick-toned guitars, rumbling bass, and stormy drums, besides the album’s often relatively frenzied vocals.

The nuances embedded within this latest Yautja effort are impressive. Just like the brightly colored yet ominously surreal scene depicted on the cover art for The Lurch, the ferocious, intriguingly volatile music itself packs what basically amounts to an explosion of sound, with intriguing musical ideas that careen along amid the album’s entrancing overall push forward.  Listening suggests something barreling down an abandoned highway in a vehicle that’s been fashioned to tear the asphalt from the ground as it goes.

Mostly, Yautja stick by (or return to) a brisk performance pace. Album closer “Before the Foal,” which begins with an atmospheric, rhythmic stagger that highlights a slower thread within the music, eventually evolves into an intense, blistering melee. “Undesirables,” which stretches across over seven minutes, features another turn towards restraint, delivering a grueling, slow-motion sonic pummeling. Meanwhile, the album kicks off with the uneasily shifting but quickly moving onslaught of “A Killing Joke,” before organically moving into the methodical meltdowns that open follow-up track “The Spectacle,” and beyond. Noticeably haunting, uneasy tones appear on “The Spectacle” and “Clock Cleaner,” among other highlights.

The album proceeds like a careening rockslide, but, in a more personal sense, it also proves consistently confrontational, which expands the ground-shifting impact to a startling degree. Overall, The Lurch feels poised to fling bystanders out of any bounds of existential security via the near-constant, grueling churn within the music. The breadth of the furor is remarkable.

Featured Image via Chappy Hull

Listen to The Lurch below:

Read the Q and A with Vaziri below!

The Creative Process

Captured Howls: After the time that has passed since your previous full-length record, what were the sparks like that got this latest creative process going?

Kayhan Vaziri: Some of these songs we’d been writing for a good few years now. Some were written within the year leading up to us recording, but some had been riffs or parts for like years and years. We released an EP, which could be a full-length — it’s like a full-length to other bands’ standards, as far as quantity, like lengthwise — and put out splits, and stuff like that, but we’ve also been touring a ton, and work stuff and family stuff came up, and stuff with other bands that we’ve played in, but I think pretty much — it seems like the spring of 2018, we were like, hey: We don’t need to book any more tours ourselves. If we get offered something super cool that would be dumb to pass up, we can do that, but let’s focus on finishing and tidying things up and getting together the songs for a full-length.

And I think we did one tour in the fall of 2018; it was like a bigger metal tour with Revocation, Exhumed, and Rivers of Nihil, and we got offered that. It was a cool, full U.S. tour; we were like hey, let’s just do this big metal tour and see how it is. Then we did a shorter and a longer European tour in 2019. We had never been to Europe, Yautja hadn’t, so we were like hey, this is being offered to us. Let’s take this and kind of break this band into Europe. 

I guess the spark was, at some point in early 2018, it was like, it’s kind of now or never, you know? Let’s get these songs together and really focus on this, stop touring as much, maybe put the other bands to the side a little bit just to get this done. And then 2019, we were pretty busy rehearsing, and compiling, and getting ready to record. We set the recording date also as a way to be like, hey: We have to have this ready here because we booked studio time. We weren’t on a label at that point either, so it wasn’t like, hey, we’re on this label now, and they expect us to produce this record. It was just kind of like, let’s get this done and recorded, and then we’ll figure out who’s going to put this out and what we’re going to do with it.

I’m glad that [partnership with Relapse] came together, especially in the weird year that was last year. It did feel kind of weird reaching out to a label like, hey, wanna put out this record? No bands are touring right now, and this, this, and this is happening, but let’s try to make this happen.


Inspirations and Style Elements

CH: There’s a lot of intriguing stuff going on across The Lurch. How would you characterize the overall sound of the record, in your perspective?

KV: It’s a pretty live-sounding record. I do think that the songs are all pretty unique, but it does have a flow to it. Songs do kind of bleed into each other, and it definitely sounds like an album, you know? To me, it doesn’t sound like a bunch of singles. I’ve heard a couple people comment on that too, people who had never really heard our band, saying they didn’t know where one song began and where the other one ended, especially if you’re listening to the vinyl, where it’s more cohesive playthrough.

We like stuff to sound raw. We recorded it live. There’s no click track or timing-type stuff, manipulation; it’s just us playing with each other. That does give the record a weird push-and-pull and flow of timing and rhythmic stuff. I do think that “the lurch” applies to that in some ways too, sonically.

Shibby’s a guitar-tone freak. He’s spent a lot of time dialing in that stuff, and Tyler has this old beat-up drum set that he’s had since he was like 14, but he still manages to get it to sound decent somehow.

I don’t think there’s been a time since any three of us have been playing music where we’ve been in like one band. It can be more intense or less intense at times. Like oh, I’m only doing these four things right now! Or, I’m doing just two things. But yeah, we tend to stay busy making noise.


CH: I’ve read about at least some of the lyrical themes as basically drawn from your real-life experiences. Am I on the right track there?

KV: It’s from us observing our surroundings and environments, and kind of our reaction to that. It’s not stuff that specifically you just see in the South, but that definitely plays a little part in it too. And there’s a couple songs about technology, and how we interact with that in the modern age and how it affects us.

It’s really funny; I’ve had a lot of people ask us, did the summer of 2020 influence you guys to write this or this? But this was all written and recorded before — it was in January, the end of January 2020. It’s kind of funny for people to ask that because, besides COVID-19, a lot of the things have been plaguing us for years and years. They just kind of came to a boiling point last year. But yeah, there’s a couple songs that have more personal-type struggles or issues in them. But a lot of it’s observational and about things we have seen and experienced.


Putting the Pieces Together

CH: For individual songs or chunks of the record as a whole, would you say that there are threads that kind of guided you along through the songwriting process?

KV: I feel like there’s definitely signature things that we do as a band and as musicians that kind of weave through a lot of the songs. But there’s not really like a go-to formula when writing a song. Like, oh yeah, okay, let’s give it the old treatment, you know, so it does this and this and this.

The type of riffs that Shibby writes and the way that Tyler plays drums — that’s kind of just like the cohesive thread that goes through everything. And the songwriting does happen pretty naturally. It’s not ever giving it the same treatment; there’s not a lot of writing things down on a board, like formulaic-type stuff. I think we did do that for maybe one song that has a lot of different changes; like it has a lot of different tails at the end of certain riffs or parts that change almost every time, so I think we did actually write that down just so we could remember how it went at one point. It all comes fairly naturally, you know? A lot of toying around with things and playing parts over and over again to see something that might fit or does not work at all.


CH: Although I can definitely imagine the likely answer here, would you say that you find releases from contemporaries in heavy music to be inspirational? The sorts of music that you guys make often seem relatively community-oriented.

KV: I would say we’re inspired by our peers, and friends in other bands that we’ve played with or that we enjoy their art or music, and it kind of gives you that little bit of fire to get you going. There’s definitely one part of it that’s like, well hey, they just put out another this, this, and this, you know? There’s a downside to cranking out lots of material that’s not that great for sure, but seeing other people release stuff and their output and stuff like that is definitely an inspiration. And also musically and artistically, bands that we’ve toured with or are friends with or people that live in our towns — there’s definitely an influence in so many ways.

We were talking the other night about Inter Arma and how, oh this part on one of their records — we have a song that kind of sounds just like that. Was that because we’ve listened to that song a bunch, and we like that part and we think it’s really cool? I don’t know; maybe.

I feel like if you had to pick one singular or the most sterile genre label for our band, it would be metal. But all three of us come from more of a punk and DIY-type scene and ethic, so we’re all about connecting with people and doing stuff on a smaller basis and doing more DIY-type stuff. Obviously, we’re working with Relapse now, and we do have a friend who’s a booking agent who’s helping us out now, but stuff still tends to be very community-oriented, and talking things out instead of that sterile business communication that music can fall into sometimes.


Sonic Ambition and Other Music

CH: Do you feel as though experimentation, so to speak, is an imperative part of heavy music in general? Does it figure highly in your perspective?

KV: No offense to anyone who’s basically — not rehashing stuff but paying tribute to bands and certain styles, like I jam music like that all the time, if it’s like straight-up old school death metal or stoner metal, or whatever. There’s so many great bands doing that today. But I think that it would be super boring if there weren’t bands that were combining different things and trying new things out and not sticking to formulas and not worrying about hey, is this going to be commercially successful? Are people going to even understand what’s going on here? Bands that are just creating stuff that is moving the narrative of metal and heavy music forward and not even doing it intentionally.

I’m sure there are a lot of bands who are like hey, let’s do this because it’s weird, and it’s never been done before, but I think most of it just kind of comes naturally when you’re not really worried about the reaction to the art you’re creating, just kind of creating something that you’re feeling or you hear in your head or you stumble upon.

There have been times when I’ve been writing music for whatever band that I’ve just been like, I dunno, there could be a catchier part here, or this could be maybe what someone would expect, but I think this is the right thing to do here, or this would be a really cool thing because I’ve never heard someone do that. I think it’s definitely necessary to keep things thriving in a way. Those bands might not be the biggest bands, or the most successful bands, but I think people will remember bands like that more than they’ll remember some hyped-up old school death metal-style band that was around for a few years. I love the bands that are kind of pushing the envelope.


CH: And finally — what other music have you been listening to lately? What’s been on your heavy rotation?

KV: I’ve been listening to a lot of older stuff, like a lot of older — everything, basically.

I got into a serious — not super serious, but I got on like a lifting and workout routine for pretty much the first time ever in my life, and that opened the doors to like, I’m just gonna go and do some essential listening of like metal and hardcore stuff that I haven’t listened to in years, or something I might have skipped over. I’ve kind of been punishing myself with that over the past six months or so.


This interview has been edited for length, and the questions in particular have been edited for length and clarity.