Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Wants to Bond with You, Personally
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has had quite a year. Still riding high on 2011's release of Hysterical, the band has toured almost nonstop in 2012, had a few bandmates call it quits, recorded a video in an Australian drainpipe and visited South Africa. And even after all of that, CYHSY still wants to play our own Grovefest on Saturday, Oct. 6. We caught up with CYHSY vocalist Alec Ounsworth - waking him from a well-deserved nap in a van - as the band drove to Raleigh for a show.
Allison Babka: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is known as being an Internet-driven band -- a lot of your initial success had come from bloggers and music forums touting your work. So thinking about all of that online love, where do you fall on the music piracy issue?
Alec Ounsworth: Oh, I don't know. I've kind of resigned myself to not take a stand on it anymore [laughs]. I don't do it [illegally downloading music], myself; I don't indulge. But kids will be kids [laughs]. I think it makes it a little more difficult for us, but we've got to find other ways to make things work. On the bright side, our music does get out there more than it would otherwise.
I think the only thing that bothers me is that people are missing the certain magic of "I'm getting a record." I still kind of enjoy that and get most of my stuff on vinyl. That's the whole idea of the package -- to provide a better connection with music. It's something to grab onto. But that's me; I'm old fashioned. The Internet didn't really come into fashion until the end of college for me. In my formative years, I never really had to consider that sort of thing.
How did you seek out music when you were younger?
I'd take recommendations from cool friends and go to a record store and try to find albums. Or I'd blindly go in and hear about some band called Bad Brains or Fishbone or Primus, you know? Then I'd go to one of their shows even without having heard them before.
What was the last album you bought?
I bought Bob Dylan's Tempest during this tour. I haven't bought too many records recently, but I have a fairly big record collection back home.
What makes a good pop song to you? What catches your ear?
That's a good question -- a really hard question. All sorts of stuff. I guess mainly... huh. That's really hard! I'm going everywhere in my head as to what I consider a good pop song, but I'm going all over the place right now. I go back to the standard great pop songs -- Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, that sort of stuff. I love it. As a little kid, I'd sing along as backing vocals. For example, [Robinson's] "The Tracks of My Tears," or Stevie Wonder had really spectacular songs over and over again. You can't put your finger on what makes a song works. You know when you know.
Do you have any guilty pleasures from today's music? Like, are you listening to "Call Me Maybe" and secretly loving it?
I guess that would be explicitly guilty [laughs]. I like a couple of Adele's songs. For someone like me who's kind of a record store geek and delves into weird esoteric shit all the time, to go to that is kind of a guilty pleasure.