A concept album set in post-War World I France.

A torrid, illicit affair of a soldier and woman produces the title character of “The Boy in a Well.” Shaming from her family leads the women to put her child in the well. Through the haze of trauma and suffering, the woman thinks the baby is the second coming of Jesus Christ. So, she takes the baby gifts. These gifts keep the boy in the well alive, yet shut off from the world.

Hooked yet? Well, not only does “The Boy in a Well” deal with a Messiah Complex, but it dives into a full-on Freudian Oedipal complex that spins the story out in ways that will leave the listener spellbound and unsettled.

In short, only The Yawpers could make this record in 2017. The genre-defying trio from Colorado has gone against the conventions of these“Idiocracy”-inspired times and released a complex, deep and thought-provoking follow-up to 2015’s inspired “American Man.” One would not expect anything less from the band that takes its name from Whit Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.”

The Yawpers will open for Low Cut Connie tonight at Club Cafe.

The Swerve Magazine recently spoke with Yawpers’ frontman/songwriter Nate Cook about releasing a concept album in a time when attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, weeding out Trump supporters and what was one reviewer thinking when he compared the new album to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The Swerve Magazine: First off, with “Boy in a Well” being a concept album, do you play certain parts of the album live or is it the album in its entirety?

Nate Cook: We do the album in its entirety, and then we do a couple of older things towards the end of the set.

SM: You find some of the new material changing played live?

NC: Not as much as past material, it was conceptualized as a finished piece. There hasn’t been a lot of mailability. It has
stayed pretty much set.

SM: How have the live audiences taken to the new album?

NC: People seem to responding to it pretty well, actually, a lot better than we anticipated. We were a little concerned about it. The record seems to be resonating with people. People are excited to come out and hear the album. The live shows have been pretty insane.

SM: Releasing a concept album that is as deep and complex as “Boy in a Well” in this Trump landscape is a novel idea.

NC: (Laughs) Well, I feel like the last album, “American Man,” took a look at what it is like, probably, inside the mind of the people that wound up voting for Trump. I think the problem with “American Man” is too many of those people saw themselves in it.

This one we wanted to make, I feel there is no other way to exorcise those sort of people from your fanbase than writing an Oedipal-rape-revenge story in post-World War I France. (Laughs) I feel an exodus coming. In a lot of ways that was part of the idea behind (the album) was to be upsetting to those people.

SM: (Laughs) And there is no dancing around the Oedipal-rape part of the story. It is at the heart of the matter.

NC: Exactly, yes.

SM: Truthfully, I am surprised that more people aren’t offended, but I guess that would mean they would actually have to pay attention to what they are hearing.

NC: I totally agree (laughs).

SM: The problem might be it overshot, flying over some of their heads.

NC: That is the problem, irony is not their strong suit. Sarcasm or the tongue-in-the-cheek comment often goes unnoticed.

SM: Sadly, yes. Pulling from the press release, is it true that this album came to you in the midst of a hangover, Dramamine-fueled early flight?

NC: As with all things, it tends to get exaggerated. I started writing it when I was on an airplane. It didn’t come to me fully formed. I didn’t have this vision when I looked into one of those looking stones or whatever the fuck they are called.

I accidentally happened to take too much Dramamine, and I was super shit-faced. On a short-jump of a plane from Las Vegas to Phoenix. I just occurred to me that I wanted to write something. I started messing with the idea of a kid getting tossed down a well. I don’t know where the came from exactly, but it wasn’t fully formed in some Dramamine haze as our press release would suggest.

The basic concept of the well was there. I spent a lot of time doing my character mapping before I even sat down and tried to decide on the plot. It was a lot of work. None of it came easily or fully formed.

SM: At what point did you realize the Oedipal issue to be a part of the story?

NC: To me, Oedipus Rex, at least, as a psychological complex is more about abandonment. If you feel like you are left by someone, or you feel that something doesn’t want you. In a lot of ways, it fans the flames of desire. If you are somebody who hasn’t had any interaction with the outside world, could easily be perverted.

In this case, why did I decide on it? It was the easiest way, with an album I only have 45 minutes to tell a story. It was the quickest way to both disgust the audience and make an impact. It saved me some time.

SM: It makes sense within the story what happens.

NC: That was the most important part. I didn’t want it to be cheap, but it is, also, a great device to use to get to the heart of the idea that all these people are monsters. Everyone is a victim, and everyone is a monster. And they are all complacent.

SM: With the way the album/story ends, is it meant to be a complete story or a parable that repeats itself?

NC: One of the themes that I tried to repeat on the record was the idea of circular history. It is kind of a Yatesian concept. The well is a circle. Everybody comes from the same place. Everybody goes to the same place. Everybody ends up dying in the same place. It was the primary point that it was cyclical.

SM: I took it to be cyclical as you can’t have the baby fall onto the bones of the dad and it not be seen as a cycle.

NC: Exactly, yes. It was meant to be recursive.

SM: Here is another thing, I’ve liked reading the reviews of the album and the band because everything has to have a label and a title and they can’t label The Yawpers. What is it like to be on the inside of that?

NC: Honestly, I don’t pay that attention to that. There have been some weird ones though. The only time I will notice is if it is something that is completely fucking insane. A British reviewer compared the new record to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (Laughs) What are you talking about? What the fuck? He was confident about it. He did RHCP; he was so confident about it. I was thinking, “What the fuck is going on right now?”

Other than that, people can do what they want. We are not compartmentalizing ourselves. I see that it is pathological. People can do what they want as long as there are not Red Hot Chili Pepper references.

SM: Yeah, I’m speechless (laughs). I did not expect Red Hot Chili Peppers to come out as a point of comparison.

NC: Yeah, I don’t know. “It really reminded me of Vivaldi’s Second.” What are you talking about?

SM: It is probably someone that is in more love with their ideas and words than reality.

NC: I don’t know, it is a post-lobotomy fucking review. I don’t know what the fuck that person was thinking.

SM: I don’t know. Chili Peppers…

NC: I mean we don’t even have a bass player.

SM: That is where I’m trying to wrap my head around that. If the album was bass heavy, it would be easier to see, maybe not understand, but there is a comparison to jump off, but you don’t even have a bass player. Wow.

Yeah, wow. When you’re expecting one thing, and you completely went in a direction so exactly the opposite. Never expected you to say the Chili Peppers, it has blown my mind and completely thrown me off course with this interview.

NC: Laughs.

SM: Trying to get this back on the rails, playing the whole album live, is it easier or a harder thing to do?

NC: I think it is actually easier. I know what to expect. You get confident in the changes quicker. The whole rigamarole of set writing is gone. You know what you are doing every night. There is no second guessing if you fucked something up. You just fucking go for it.

I think too with how people are resonating with the record; it is what people want.

SM: Speaking of the album and things that go with it, how did the comicbook come into play? Was it solicited?

NC: I felt like the record was probably asking too much of people to have them try to understand the narrative just from the lyrics. I wrote it in a way that I understood it. I felt like it would be a dick thing to do, to expect people to get it without the visual aid. The comic serves as a companion piece so that people can understand the album more coherently. And, honestly, I’ve always just wanted to write a comic.


SM: Bouncing off that, with how connected everything is within the record and comic, how did the decision of the single go?

NC: I let Bloodshot (Records) do it and closed my eyes.

I couldn’t bring myself to separate it up. I just gave (Bloodshot Records) full reign on that.

SM: It takes it out of your hands.

NC: I have no culpability.

SM: Were you happy with what they picked (“Mon Dieu”)?

NC: Yeah, I mean I would be happy either way. To me, it is not a singles-laden record. Put it this way; I’m neither here nor there on it. They could have released anything, and I would have been fine with it.

SM: It isn’t a singles-laden album. You have to commit to the album. It is a rewarding experience. It is nice to hear that people are taking to the album as that means they are actually listening to it.

NC: Yes, I agree. Honestly, it is surprising. We’ve all been surprised.

SM: It is great that people are coming out to hear it in its entirety.

NC: I’m very pleased.
 
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