IT’S the summer of 2009 and You Already Know (otherwise known as YAK) are riding a wave of public goodwill afforded to very few bands.
Following a more traditional incarnation which culminated in a support slot with The Deftones at the Glasgow Academy, YAK’s transformation to the sans-vocals outfit they are today is confirmed by the release of their debut album, Stop Whispering.
Reviews for Stop Whispering are universally positive – full of praise for a sound that is unashamedly heavy and undeniably Scottish. The Scottishness is apparent despite the fact that the entire album features just two lines of vocals. Perhaps it’s the association with Glasgow’s healthy instrumental rock scene that has given Stop Whispering its Scots identity, rather than thick Glaswegian accents.
Whatever it is, YAK are reveling in it and Stop Whispering is selling all over the world.
Australia and Russia are particularly interested it seems, with the former Soviet Union downloading illegal torrents of the record in big numbers.
Not that the band – or their chuffed record label Mister Tramp – mind at all.
“We only got a very small number of physical copies of the album made anyway,” says guitarist Allan Swan. “And it takes iTunes a while to make music available, so we’d rather have folk in Russia nicking it than ignoring it.” Scotland too is interested.
The album reaches number 16 in the UK Record Store charts – charting higher than former Beatle George Harrison’s Let It Roll, much to YAK’s collective amusement.
YAK tour the country and play to appreciative audiences on both coasts and in the Highlands.
The band is then asked to warm up a crowd of 20,000 people at a rally in Kilmarnock as the Ayrshire town tries to prevent whisky giants Johnnie Walker from putting 700 of its residents on the dole queue.
Finally, a triumphant show at the famous Hope & Anchor in London brings the curtain down on Stop Whispering and thoughts turn to the follow-up.
Almost two years on, and with Mister Tramp’s owners having fallen victim to real jobs, YAK have turned to I Need Musik to release their second album, the glorious Petrol Money. The name could be a reference to the amount of cash an instrumental band can realistically hope to make in a music industry obsessed with chart success. Or it could just be that YAK can’t wait to get back out on the road.
The record is punchier than its predecessor, more riff-heavy and recorded for the most part with the band playing live together in one room. Just like Stop Whispering, it was brought to life in their self-built studio, The Nest – above one of Glasgow’s last remaining indie record stores – where the band also wrote and rehearsed the songs and hosted countless post-gig parties.
Petrol Money has already spawned three digital-only singles. Boomstick, The Stride and Let’s Fuck all feature among the album’s 11 tracks and showcase the band’s ability to hold the attention of the listener without vocals.
YAK don’t give in to the temptation of allowing their songs to run on longer than they should, with only one of Petrol Money’s offerings breaching the five-minute mark. This is instrumental music, but not as we know it. Perhaps this time the illegal downloads will be outnumbered by righteous purchases. But then again, so long as you’re listening, do YAK really care?
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