Nearly three decades into their storied career, New Jersey's finest indie rock pioneers Yo La Tengo have shaken things up on their latest album, Fade, and it's paid off with their highest chart position yet.
There are few bands in the indie rock universe as beloved as the Hoboken trio. Following an appearance on talk show Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, which saw them play new single Ohm with Saturday Night Live and Portlandia star Fred Armisen sitting in on drums, Yo La Tengo's new album has debuted at No. 26 on the US album charts, a rare feat for the notoriously underground band.
Yo La Tengo headed to Chicago's Soma Studios to lay down Fade with Tortoise drummer John McEntire. After two decades of working with producer Roger Moutenot, the band decided it was time for a change.
"I think even with previous records that we did do with Roger, we would talk about it and say 'Is there anyone else that we would rather work with - is there someone we should approach'," vocalist/guitarist Ira Kaplan ponders.
"We always just kept coming around and say we would like to work with Roger again. This time, we were having a conversation and somebody brought up John's name and it was like a three-way light bulb.
"He and Roger are similar in that they're both really quiet and stay in the background for the most part, although I think that they do have a gigantic impact on what's happening."
Finishing Fade was the climax of an eventful 2012, which also saw the release of a biography on the band, entitled Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock written by Jesse Jarnow.
Kaplan says he couldn't bring himself to read more than a few pages of the draft.
"I barely read articles about us and I don't listen to our records," he admits. "It's just not my idea of fun. I mean that with no comment about the quality of the book, it's just about the personal response to reading about myself page after page."
After nearly 30 years of attracting a cult following, Kaplan is happy in his bubble.
"I think being in Hoboken, being in a trio, being in a trio with my wife, our group is pretty good about tuning out the rest of the world and pretending that we're playing for ourselves and nobody else," he reflects."If we make No. 26 on the charts, there's no downside to finding out that somebody is listening but when people are talking about you, it can get a little unsettling. Even when they're saying nice things, it just gets unsettling."
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.