Veterans of the indie rock circuit for damn near 30 years and thirteen albums – now that their newest release, Fade, has hit shelves – Yo La Tengo have earned their reputation as “the quintessential critics’ band.” In many ways, then, it makes sense that guitar player Ira Kaplan and bassist James McNew recently stepped into the podcasting studio to record an episode of The Hivecast With Matt Pinfield, who’s basically the quintessential critic. When you put a bunch of guys from Jersey who’ve been traveling in the same circles since the early ’80s together, you can rest assured the conversation that ensues is going to cover a lot of ground – but sometimes it’s the most recent events that are the most interesting, as when the band recounts where they were when Hurricane Sandy hit.
For Kaplan, the weirdest part was watching it on TV. “It was freaky to be in Europe and turn on CNN, and there’s Anderson Cooper in your neighborhood,” the guitarist explains. “I was doing press for this record – I was on a press trip, and the great irony is that we decided this year that I’d just go do it myself, and everyone else can stay home and relax.“
“Relaxing” for McNew, meant bailing out friends – literally. “Down in Red Hook, Brooklyn, really close to where I live, some friends of ours who run a record label were completely destroyed by water,” he says. “I went down there and helped them just lug soaking wet boxes of vinyl out of their warehouse.” The soft-spoken Kaplan reveals some of the aggression that led him to title an album I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass when he explains what happened next: “As we were doing that, there were tourists taking pictures of us. I guess you could add this to a certain level of panic: They almost got murdered. You don’t do that.” It’s not all disaster stories and explicit threats, though, of course, and give the rest of the Hivecast a listen to hear them talk about the new album, Fade, and coming of age as a band. [Download & subscribe to the Hivecast via iTunes.]