Analogue Music | Cayucas


By Matt Conner

The sonic terrain is both familiar and different.

Zach Yudin describes Blue Summer (Park the Van), the newest album from Cayucas, as a homecoming of sorts. Longtime fans will love the straightforward acoustic songs that recall the band's debut album, Bigfoot (Secretly Canadian). However, both Zach and his brother Ben have learned a thing or two since those days and they brought those lessons to bear on this latest set of songs.

We recently sat down with Zach to tell us a bit more about the process of writing and recording during a pandemic, the need to experiment, and what it meant to come back to their original sound.

Analogue: Given the pandemic, how did that affect things musically for Cayucas when things first hit?

Zach Yudin: We were recording the record from our home studio back in December. We were chipping away in January and February where we had three or four songs finished and then the pandemic hit. We were at home anyway, so we just kept recording and finished the record in the spring from home. [Laughs]

I don't how it reads on the record, but it was right in the belly of the beast during that time, but I think we were lucky to be busy and stay busy recording music and talking to the label and coming up with a release schedule.

It was all weird. We couldn't shoot music videos. We couldn't do a live show. We were planning on doing a live session in March and April that got postponed. I think March and April was a rebuilding of what we could do. It's going well so far. We actually shot a couple music videos and released songs just like normal. We're just not able to do the live side of things.

"There have been some positives, too, to releasing music for us right now ... The songs can take you away from the day-to-day stuff." -Zach Yudin

Analogue: Do you miss it?

Zach: No, we're okay. I'm not dying to get back on the road or anything. I like this part. I like writing music the most, but it is a big part of an album release. We've performed from my living room and we did a live session with a band in town, so you adapt. I think also our music, a lot of people have been happy to hear some happy kind of music in this time versus sad music. There have been some positives, too, to releasing music for us right now. It's just something normal during these times. The songs can take you away from the day-to-day stuff.

Analogue: Was that intentional on your part?

Zach: I think our music tends to be happy music, but it wasn't intentional by any means. It felt like a happy accident like, 'Oh, this is the type of music I want to be listening to right now.' People know us as a happy band and so this album is no different. It's probably even more happy than previous records, which was just random.

'Blue Summer' cover art
'Blue Summer' cover art

Analogue: I read some quotes from you about returning back to the early sounds of the band. What brought you back around?

Zach: I think we go album by album with what excites us. These types of songs, it wouldn't have been exciting for us to make them on the second or third record. But for this time, it felt fresh to get back to some of those original ideas that we had around Cayucas songwriting-wise. I think you have to just experiment as an artist. You have to do what's exciting. There are lots of artists out there who can make the same kinds of records. They find their sweet spot and make the same records over and over again. Those people are smart. [Laughs] But that's hard to do.

You want to experiment and I think that's all good. But you just have to get it out of your system. Everybody has them. If you listen to the Beatles to Tom Petty, they have lots of different records. Tom Petty did a record in the late-'80s that was just weird that he didn't like to talk about. [Laughs]

I don't know how true this is, but it feels like the typical thing is that you have a first record that does well and everyone likes you for that one. Then you do something totally different. I don't know the psychology behind that, but I remember our record label saying, 'No, get back in the recording studio with the same producer and do the same thing you did on the first record.'

But that's the last thing you want to do. You want to experiment. You finally got to a point where you can go into a studio and you have producer options and you want to experiment. Some artists don't. They just make the same type of records over and over and that works, too. I guess you just have to figure that out on your own.

Analogue: After years of playing the same songs, I'd want something new, too.

Zach: Yeah, I think we have a lot of creative juices. It just depends on what excites you. But the next record has to feel different. That's just our creative flow. The first record, which was a really special record for us and probably our most popular record among fans, writing songs like that finally felt fresh again after last year when we'd made more of an electronic pop record. We got that out of the system and it felt really fresh to write a nice, simple, acoustic guitar song about the beach. It was like, 'Woah, this feels fresh.' That's how it works for us.

Analogue: Does it feel different this time around? It's familiar, yet you also come with all this experience.

Zach: It feels totally different, you're right. You learn so much over the years. As songwriters, we feel like we're a lot better at this point. We've learned so much from writing songs and working with so many producers. So we're writing songs like we did in the beginning but we're making them better. It's the way they're structured. They're catchier. It's all the things we've learned as songwriters over the last two records and applying that.

We learned a lot on the last record because we worked with a guy named Dennis Herring. I don't know how to explain it, but he blew our minds. He'd throw away the bridge, turn the chorus into the intro, delete other parts. We feel like we're much better songwriters now than at the beginning, so yeah it is different. And hopefully, it's better.

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