Asking Yeah Yeah Yeahs drummer Brian Chase to discuss the stability (or reputed lack thereof) of his revered band is like asking George W. Bush about, well, anything: Both clearly know the truth, but neither are talking. Oh, Chase will answer all your questions, sure. But only in a hemming and hawing style that breeds responses so innocuous, even the seediest, least-reputable journalist couldn't possibly misrepresent them. The blanks and protracted pauses from the transcripts of our recent conversation read like a Mad Libs entry. It's hard to blame the guy, though: Everyone thinks his band's about to implode.
Westword: What did you guys set out to accomplish with Show Your Bones?
Brian Chase: We set out to mostly not make Fever to Tell Part Two. That was the last thing we wanted, to make more of what we've been doing for the last three or four years.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
With Blood on the Wall, 8 p.m. Friday, April 21, Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson Street, $20, 303-830-8497
Singer Karen O wanted to use her then-boyfriend's kid brother, Sam Spiegel (Squeak E. Clean), as a co-producer on the record. What was your reaction to her bringing in the guy who helped her produce her solo album?
Um...uh...he seemed like a nice guy, and he had a really comfortable studio setup where, you know, we could do what we needed to do. He has a really easygoing manner and has an optimistic, positive outlook on life that balances out our more depressed, gloomy outlook on life.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
We still pretty much did everything ourselves.
Spiegel told Spin he thought the YYYs was a compromise for Karen. Was there ever any concern between you and guitarist Nick Zinner that, given his prior relationship with Karen in the studio, the second album would start tilting more toward her vision rather than a collaborative vision?
Is that a sore subject?
I'm just surprised it came up.
So was that a concern, then?
No, this record was more of a collaboration than anything we've ever done.
Judging by the press on the YYYs, Brian Chase seems a missing component. Do you ever get pissed off by the fact that Karen and Nick get all the attention?
There are times that I definitely feel overlooked, and I definitely resent any condescending statements directed toward me in that regard. It just depends on the journalist and what they're looking for in the band. I'm not going to make any generalizations, but people like to stick to the surface level. It's easier to focus on the more superficial aspect of the band.
We found an old interview where Karen was asked if Fever to Tell's success had changed you guys at all. She said it had changed you guys, but not her. How do you feel about that? How have the YYYs changed?
Changed me, personally? Hmm. I still live in the same apartment, have the same girlfriend. Have the same musical interests and ambitions that I had pretty much before the band started.
And Karen and Nick? Have they changed?
Uh, yeah. Yeah. But I'm not going to comment on that.
Despite the internal turbulence between Karen and Nick, do the YYYs have another album in them?
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Um...ah, um, yes. As of now, yes.
So no truth to the rumors that you guys are two heartbeats from a breakup?
Yeah, um...no. That's bullshit.