Here to help save us from ourselves with music for all of us to connect with, according to our own respective responses, during this brave new turbulent era; we delighted & thrilled to present a world premiere listen to Yucky Duster’s new album Duster’s Lament. Comprised of friends Maggie, Luca, Madeline & Zack; the quartet follows up unfiltered fun of their rollicking-raucous & ruckus starting self-titled with something even sharper, more biting, 100 times more uncompromising & more more the course of only five song. Available January 13 from the good folks over at Infinity Cat, Duster’s Lament is an EP of lamentations for our collective lives & world that will help us all as a people commiserate together as an exhausted & sometimes embarrassed (& overall embarrassing for that matter) world.
Yucky Duster have made the record for our times that mixes the weird, awkward, bad, good, strange & unreal all together in a string of associative narratives that stream through the same clever pop tributary. The opening title track of their EP Duster’s Lament wrestles with the reiterations of “I don’t mean to get you down, I’m just having one of those years” where earnest expressions of things that are less than great finds the entire Yucky Duster band joining in on a lyrical back & forth/call & response series of choruses that are some of the creative & crafty arrangements that sort of sound together as if it were organized by virtue of happenstance. The peppy rhythm chord structure along with the group’s utilitarian minimalism allows for the acerbic & unforgiving lyrics to ring in vivid ways where reality can be felt breaking through the speaker. Every Yucky Duster lyric hits you in the most unexpected of ways too, where tales that are too-real to be fake are set to one of the most honest home-grown sounds you could listen to forever, whilst crying tears of both agony & excitement. This can be heard on the track “Thaw”, with lyrics that jump from one topic to the next while dragging you along for the ride with passages like; “I smelled you from a couple blocks away and then I hear you at my window, tapping at the glass you didn’t really have a phone, I wake up but I wasn’t sleeping,” or “I fixed your belly button infection, then we were goning to go to Cuba, shoot pool at a dive bar in Newark, we talked a lot about gentrification…” The Brooklyn group at times hit those emotive chords that resound with certain similarities to the Sinderlyn/Mac DeMarco crews, as Yucky Duster shape-shifts into the sound of your favorite DIY heroes while retaining their own honest autonomy all the while.
Yucky Duster shows us “The Ropes” where trials & errors & logics are battled up against the reasons of reality. All the while the band works their way into your heart with a charm that you can relate to in myriad ways. From lyrics that hit home with all sorts of emotive implications & familiar phenomenons of both the mundane & vaguely profound; Yucky Duster’s new EP could not have arrived at a better time. “Different People” depicts the drift between two formerly connected parties in what could have been an alternate b-side to “Viceroy”, where every strummed string furthers Zack’s story about lovers grappling with the realization of their respective personality changes & growth. Maggie wraps up the entire record with the underachiever anthem that triumphs in trailblazing according to the natural order of instinctual rebellion with the infectious sing-along title stating chorus of “I’m an elementary school dropout I break the rules like every single time, I’m the bad girl in the corner ’cause I can never get to school on time.” This closing single encapsulates the brilliant, desk toppling style of Yucky Duster that revels in the imperfections of the world in a kind of hyper-reality that sucks you into their vortex of whoa & wow where underlying woes & insatiable lusts for life gives the status-quo the middle finger bird.
In the sleepy beginning of the new year, we reached out to Yucky Duster for a discussion between the band’s own Maggie, Luca, Madeline & Zack. We want inquired about the stories on how the group became close friends, and what lead to the formation of Yucky Duster. “I met Maggie (bass) through a guy I was seeing a few years ago,” Madeline explained to us over emails & coffee, “He told me that she wanted to start playing music again since her first band (Tincture) had broken up years before. I kind of rolled my eyes at the suggestion but after meeting Maggie for the first time at a BLUFFING concert (I used to play bass off and on in BLUFFING) I was like YES! We both gave our numbers to two different guys in one band on napkins. She got a date—I didn’t—his loss.”
The group then elaborated about the moniker inspiring tales that lead to their deciding upon the name of Yucky Duster. “We were originally called Twalettes like toilets and twats—sorry—because we wanted a feminine name that was reminiscent of 50s and 60s girl groups, i.e. Shangri-Las,” the group explained, “About six months later we changed to Yucky Duster because it was actually the first name we had come up with, I think we nixed it because it was too weird or something. We thought of traditionally female jobs—I believe maid came to mind—and spat out duster, like a feather duster. And yucky sounded good and ridiculous with it.”
The praxis involved with creating the Yucky Duster sound evolved from the those classic girl group inceptions to contemporary feminist causes & creative new forms of activism. “It was just the two of us playing for about a year writing Shangri-Las and The Slits inspired tunes. We played a couple feminist backyard barbecues and one Halloween show until Luca (guitar, duh), a good friend of mine from Cooper Union and from playing BLUFFING shows with the Gradients, joined.” Yucky Duster also unveiled a few lost, yet-to-be-unearthed outtakes waiting to be unveiled on a future deluxe edition/box set release. “[Luca] always laughed at the demos I showed him—such lost classics as “Dick Pic” and “Kevin (Stop Stalking Me)”—and we had collaborated on videos and drawings before—check out babukabalser.tumblr.com—so I thought it was a good fit. Also we had already gone on tour together with our respective bands to SXSW in 2014 so I knew I could stand him.”
Yucky Duster talked further about the Slonk Donkerson connection and how Zack O’Brien joined the group. “Zack [guitarist] plays in Slonk Donkerson, a band I’ve seen probably 30 times over the past few years, and is friends with a lot of the people I played with when I was in BLUFFING. He came up to me drunk one night at Palisades a few months after Luca joined telling me how much he liked our shitty demos. I just said you should join! and nobody protested—so that was that. I’m skipping over a lot…”
Zack also provided his take on joining the Dusters: “I can’t say what things were like exactly before I joined, but I know that once the four of us started playing together, things came together really quickly. We have always had a really easy chemistry when it comes to learning each other’s songs and making them into fully hashed out things. I think a big part of that came from us all playing in different bands before, where maybe the stakes could feel a little higher or something. We just had a nice, relaxed chemistry where everybody felt good contributing whatever they have at the moment. We had ten songs recorded within a couple months of being a full band.
Zack & the band further talked about the various lamentations, tribulations & jubilations that informed the making of the Duster’s Lament EP. “It was really a concept EP that we decided to make as a miniature experiment,” they explained, “We wanted to have an album where we each had a lament because we each have such different songwriting styles and voices.” The conversation delved further into alternate album titles. “Originally we were thinking the titles would be Luca’s Lament, Maggie’s Lament, etc but we settled for Duster’s Lament as the title track.”
The YD crew provided a deeper behind the music-esque exposition on the making of both their self-titled & new EP. “Parker Silzer, who we call P4Bass, is our pal who plays in Slonk Donkerson and produced our self-titled album,” Zack described, “We wanted to continue to work with him as well as Matt Labozza who mastered the self-titled for Duster’s Lament. James Business was also super helpful in getting all of this done the way we wanted.”
The conversation progressed to the making of Duster’s Lament: “Funny enough I actually broke down and cried (lament!) when I was finishing lyrics for “Elementary School Dropout”—so Parker sat at his computer and we tried to come up with elementary school similes while I kept crying. It was very fitting and dramatic and I’m happy with the lyrics we came up with together.”
We talked further about how every song on this album elicits a whole new feeling, and inquired more about what IRL situations spawned the various inceptions for “Thaw”, “The Ropes”, “Different People” & “Elementary School Dropout”. “I think we all got vulnerable for our respective songs,” the band explained, “[We] felt like the self-titled album, while I am totally proud of this fact, consisted mostly of songs about feeling annoyed, mad at people or left out so I think we naturally went in the direction of more introspective, downbeat tunes.” Zack further talked more about the song writing approaches: “A lot of what we write songs about is mundane, everyday stuff. Maybe on our first album we mostly looked at the funny aspects of those little things, but those everyday things have bummer sides to them, too. It’s been kind of funny reading things about us in which writers say Yucky Duster is always having a blast, knowing that, as a group, we’re actually quite prone to anxiety and depression.” Through it all the group reiterated a dedication to creating a sound that is honest with who Yucky Duster are as individuals, with shout outs to heroes. “I think we all just try to be ourselves and whether we like it or not this is it,” they stated, “Also, I think we were all listening to a lot of Todd Rundgren and Tony Molina (Ovens) when we wrote Duster’s Lament. So maybe that made a difference.”
The group then gave us their lists of the latest & greatest from Brooklyn. “A few faves—gobbinjr, Sweet Baby Jesus, Palberta, Washer, No One and the Somebodies, Big Ups. Oh yeah, and check out Old Table.” Zack further shined light on the BK’s current crop of movers & shakers. “It’s also been really encouraging to see so many people mobilizing people in music right now,” Zack said in praise of their contemporaries, “So many people have been organizing, but I know specifically Charlie DY, of Sweet Baby Jesus, and Leslie and Sam, of Haybaby, have been working their butts off planning a lot of benefit shows.
Yucky Duster commenced our conversation with thoughts on 2017 hopes & dreams. “Aside from ignoring that jerk in the white house—I want to get a cat and name it chips. Maybe write some disco songs. I can’t speak for everyone else, though,” Madeline expressed to us, accompanied with closing thoughts on future happenings; “We are also traveling down to SXSW together, which will be our first time on the road for Yucky Duster. The original lyrics to “Duster’s Lament” were actually I don’t want to poop at work I just want to poop at my house, there I can be all alone unless my roommates are at home, at a toilet of my own. But this did not fly well with everyone—the Dusters are democratic.”
Yucky Duster’s Duster’s Lament will be available January 13 from Infinity Cat.