Yeah Yeah Yeahs
“Show Your Bones is what happens when you put your finger in the light socket.”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Avant Garde Catchiness
Terms like ‘indie rock’ and ‘art punk’ usually come straddled with expectations: weird hairdos, weirder outfits and indescribable music. It’s the expectations like those that make Yeah Yeah Yeahs an even bigger find for the independent music scene. The group toes a fine line with a signature off-kilter sound that nonetheless manages to be just as marketable to the mainstream audience. Whatever it is, it’s a killer combination.
Although the group’s records can now be found in most stores, its beginnings are about as indie as indie can get. Vocalist Karen O (real name: Karen Lee Orzolek) met drummer Brian Chase in Ohio in the 1990’s, when they attended the same college. She then met guitarist Nick Zinner in a bar after her transfer to New York University.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Indie Roots
Zinner and Karen O initially began as an acoustic duo but soon moved into more electric territory. Before long, Chase was drafted into the lineup, and the band’s focus changed to an artsier, more punk-heavy vibe that was popular in Ohio at the time.
Supporting performances for the White Stripes and the Strokes gave the newly formed Yeah Yeah Yeahs a lot of positive buzz. This factored into the success of their self-titled 2001 debut EP, released under their personal label Shifty. In 2002, appearances at South by Southwest, the United States and Europe put the group on the international radar.
Fever to Tell, their full-length debut, came out the following year. Their internationally recognized name and the album’s critical acclaim helped propel it to gold-level sales. It wouldn’t be followed up until 2006, with the release of full-length Show Your Bones, whose producer jokingly described it as a concept album about Karen O’s cat.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs Go Up Up Up
Although the description about the cat was untrue – MTV retracted the news – it was still a very successful album, earning the group its very first Grammy nod. The trio released the Is Is EP in 2007 as a prelude to the 2009 LP It’s Blitz!.
Did you know that...
- ...indie begets indie? In their early performing days, Karen O and Zinner shared a Brooklyn loft with what would eventually become Canadian band Metric.
- ...Karen O has a large and adoring fan base? In addition to titles like Sex Goddess Awardee, she has also been approached by Playboy to pose for the cover.
- ...each member has gotten involved in numerous side projects? Karen O notably helped compose the whole soundtrack for 2010 film Where the Wild Things Are.