Alex Schaaf, Michael Tapper and Jon Natchez, the refreshingly quirky trio known collectively as Yellow Ostrich, sat down with a few members of The Press for an interview before their show at Stony Brook University’s UCafé on Thursday, Oct. 6. Here is a collection of some of the gems that came out of their mouths.
How did your band begin?
Alex: “I started the band by myself when I was in school in Wisconsin, and I did a lot of recording, and then I moved to New York last August, and hooked up with Michael, in a platonic way, and, one drink led to another…so yeah, I got him, and then we started playing around New York, guitars, and then our album came out on the internet like last October or something; so we played around New York for a while, a few months, and then we got Jon in January.”
What’s the writing process like?
Alex: “Well, for the album that’s out, I wrote it and recorded it before we were like a band. But now it’s a lot more collaborative.”
Jon: “It always starts with Alex. Alex always sends out an e-mail that says ‘New Jams,’ and attached are mp3s of new jams, and then, I mean it’s still like a very new thing; we’re still sort of feeling our way around it, the way it’s gonna work, but it does seem that like, the live band approach is sort of the lens that everything gets refracted through.”
Do you have any major music influences? If so, who?:
Alex: “I’ve had a bigger Neil Young phase than anyone else; or than any other phase I’ve had; no one else is as big of a fan as I am.”
How is it different for you to play on a college campus than it is to play in another venue?
Alex: “It’s cool, I mean ‘cause, I just graduated from college like last year, or a year and a half ago or something, and I like booked bands, so from that end it’s great because there’s usually more hospitality and it seems more of an event. Like, bands are coming and like, people go to shows, whereas like a club, they see four bands every single night and they’re, I don’t know, sometimes it’s more, it’s always less jaded at schools.”
What’s your favorite song to play live?
Jon: “We all like changing things up often, so the newest song. We get very excited about new songs. The Shake Down right now.”
Alex: “We like playing songs that no one cares about ‘cause they’re new.”
What’s next for you?
Alex: “We have that tour [with Ra Ra Riot] later this month; and then we don’t have anything scheduled, but we have a new album that’s gonna come out early next year or something, as soon as they want to put it out. And then next year we’ll be doing probably a ton of touring, finishing off this album.”
Growing up, did you know you wanted to be in a band, or was it like, ‘I wanna be an astronaut,’ and then you switched at some point?
Michael: “I still wanted to be an astronaut; this is a big disappointment…I never thought I’d be in a band…I never wanted this; what am I doing here?”
Alex: “At least for me, I’ve been playing music forever, and since like high school I knew I wanted to be in a band.”
What did you think you’d be doing (Michael)?
Michael: “Math, mostly; but that didn’t work out.”
Michael: “Because I joined a band.”
If you could say one thing about your band, or being in a band, to college students what would you say?
Michael: “Some of you guys are gonna love it, some of you won’t. But, we’re having a good time.”