Pete Yorn: An interview on the release of Arranging Time
Pete Yorn is an American singer/songwriter and talented musician who has just released his sixth album, Arranging Time. After his gig at Bush Hall we caught up with him to find out more about his success.
Congratulations on the new album! Can you tell us a little bit about how Arranging Time came to be?
The stars aligned, it made itself spontaneously! No it came out today and I am so happy, it was years in the making, lots of anticipation. I think it started back in 2012. My process is different: I don’t go in and say “OK I am making a record now,” I typically just record at friends’ houses and garages, so it is very organic. 2012 I ran into Walt Vincent, producer of my first two records. All we ever did was record music when we hung out so we thought we would. I had a song idea called Century – it didn’t make the record – but that day reminded me of everything I loved about working with Walt and it just felt really fresh again. So that is where it started off. At one point we had 30 songs we were working on. I think side B is Walt and side A is a mixture of friends I worked with; in total I have like four producers on this record. That’s what makes the familiar sound of my earlier work and then the experimental update side, which I felt came around naturally. It is really fun to play these songs live again. Last night was the first time I noticed the fans singing it back to me – still I am like “What’s that ? Is my guitarist singing?”. It never gets old them singing it back.
How do you decide which songs make it on the album and which get cut?
Once I get going I just kind of record. Sometimes I put limits on myself and say I am only making nine songs. For this album it was more deciding what would fit and tell the story. I went from 30 to 20 to 15. There are definitely songs that didn’t make it on, which will see the light. Originally I was going to call it Hard to Help You after my favourite of the songs, but that was dealing with difficult people in your life that will always be there. That didn’t fit with the other concept I had, so that could be a concept on its own and a possible record one day. That is kind of my process.
What would you say the concept of Arranging Time is?
The title means a lot of different things. The title will change, the songs are designed to evolve with a person as they experience more. People have a time and place in life that they attach songs to. For me I ask what does this song mean to me now. It is a simple way for me to be in the moment and not be concerned with worrying about all the things we do. It is more a suggestion then a definite meaning.
A meditative approach to song-writing?
You started off as a drummer and moved to incorporate lead singer into that. What inspired that transition?
So I am the youngest in my family. I have two brothers I am very close to, and they would have their friends over and play music and I would just watch it. My first exposure to music was that. Early on they were playing a lot of Judas Priest covers and Iron Maiden and I thought it was so cool. They moved over to The Clash and The Cure, embraced the 80s. My middle brother taught me to play drums and I took to it naturally. Then, when I was 11, I heard a Cure song called Inbetween Days and Bigmouth Strikes Again by The Smiths and I had never heard that really fast acoustic guitar strumming before and hadn’t thought to play the guitar like that. At that point I was like I want to play like that and I took on this percussion acoustic guitar style. And that was it, as soon as I learnt my first chords of the guitar I started to write songs, it naturally happened.
So originally when you were watching your brothers did you want to be in a band?
No I was just being a wise ass kid being like “I can do that, move over”. Career-wise, I never was the kid who wanted to be a star. I was going to go to law school and music was just a hobby. Then half-way through college I was just writing so many songs and I was playing for friends and I started thinking “well, maybe”. As a kid you are more willing to take chances. I knew I had to graduate college, but then I figured I don’t want to be 30 and thinking what if? So I gave it a few years, whatever it was I just felt I had to do it at the time.
So do you think you approach music differently now?
If I approached it the same way I would probably be dead! No it is a different life, I was lucky people paid attention then. I think I pace myself now, I have a different perspective. I can see things more for what they are. Like the title of the record, it is just way more present.
So what’s next after you finish your tour in Coachella?
I love playing shows and getting out and seeing the fans, but my baby isn’t [always] going to be little, so after this tour’s first run I am going to try see her as much as possible. But, that said, I probably will want to expand into some more touring possibly in the summer or the fall.
Photo: Barry Stingmore
For further information about Pete Yorn and future events visit here.
Read our review of Pete Yorn’s concert at Bush Hall here.
Watch the video for Lost Weekend here: