[osheaga interview] Ira Tuton of Yeasayer on new album, Fragrant World

This past weekend at Osheaga, in addition to filming and taking constant notes, I managed to squeeze in a few interviews with some bands. On Saturday, the temperature reached a humid and oppressive upper-90s, so YEASAYER bassist Ira Wolf Tuton and I picked a shady spot in the back of the festival to talk about the upcoming album Fragrant World, life on the road, and different forms of sensory stimuli.

Tell me about the new album.
We set out to do a different project than we had on our prior two albums and I think in that sense we accomplished our goal in creating a new aesthetic.

What’s different about it than last time?
We recorded in New York, we were close to our home, every night we went back to our prospective personal lives, we’re all in different places personally, the studio outside the box and inside the box, meaning analog hardware and computer software, and that brought a new aspect to the recording.

You used to use all analog gear?
We’re an equal opportunity employer as a band. We don’t fetishize an instrument just because of what it is -- there’s no sacred way to create a sound; whether it’s banging a chopstick on a harp or carefully molding something on recording software, you just want to make it sound perfect the way you want it.

You’ve been touring a lot.
We always do.

How has it affected your physical and mental well-being?
Probably not very well (laughs). You know, the nature of being on stage is an exercise in itself but it can be a challenge to maintain a healthy lifestyle outside of living in a party every night. The more you do it, the more you get comfortable with it.

What’s your personal regimen?
I just try to get enough sleep, maintain hydration… this tour I haven’t really done anything like that though. Really it’s about getting vitamin D, getting out in the sun, but you know, try not to go too crazy. Reading, also. I just subscribed to Lapham’s Quarterly, it’s run by the old editor of Harper’s Weekly. I’m kind of a news junkie. It just has a bunch of old news articles about the humanity and stuff.

Do you like playing big shows like this or do you prefer a smaller setting?
I like both for different reasons. You can harness different things. When you play in a smaller setting it’s easier to take over and it’s in front of more people who are abreast of you as a band, more “superfans” if you will, so the creation of a unified religious experience is easier, because you can harness that energy. But it’s also pretty fun to get off a plane in front of tons of people and having that challenge of trying to turn people on and, if you can, it’s a really great high, kind of an inexplicable feeling.

Favorite exotic fruit?
Blood orange, because you rarely get good ones, but I’ll tell you that Italy has really good blood oranges. I got one at a food stand near the forum and it was unbelievable.

What does the world smell like?
In Montreal, the world smells like weed.

Shoutouts to anyone in Boston?
I got family in Boston, so that’s always a benefit of touring around the world because you get to catch up with everyone you know. And then Rory. A friend of mine. What up Rory.


Fragrant World comes out on August 21st. You can catch Yesayer on Sept. 11th at the House Of Blues.

PS: if you want to hear the new album, you can listen to/watch it here.

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