Discovery: The Yes Way

Published January 13, 2012

ABOVE: THE YES WAY

In a musical stratosphere where most young, “cool” bands are expected to be Indie, Brooklyn-based outfit The Yes Way (singer/guitarist Aaron Mendelsohn, drummer Jesse Bilotta, guitarist Nick Burleigh and bassist/model of the moment Ian Mellencamp) find themselves on the rock side of the spectrum. The band’s repertoire is void of ambient echoes and dubstep-inspired drum programming, instead relying on sometimes-eerie arrangements, controlled harmonies and an altogether noisy energy, as can be seen on songs like “Falter” and the peppier “Mets” and “Anchor” (which finds the multi-talented Burleigh on violin).

The foursome have the childlike vigor and flair of a band that really loves what they do and isn’t self-important enough to play it coy, which is part of why they seem to hold so much promise. And the band is tapping into a type of versatile rock that puts music’s more traditional traits (songwriting, instrumentation, performance) on a pedestal, a type of rock that hasn’t been considered truly trendy to the younger set for some time. Still a young band in every sense of the word, it’s hard to tell what kind of impact The Yes Way will have on the state of sound—whether they’ll redefine the music kids listen to, simply develop in their own right or fade into the backs of the blogosphere—but it’s certainly worth finding out.

HOMETOWN: Brooklyn, NY

HOW THEY MET: Mendelsohn: I met Nick after a show I played in a different band, and he had a lot of interesting things to say about our sound. A few weeks later, he was playing guitar at a party we threw. After seeing him play, I asked him if he’d be interested in joining up. I was bartending at the time, and met a guy at the bar one night, and we were talking about different local bands when I mentioned we were looking for a drummer—Jesse was the guys’ roommate. In the initial formation of the band, we had a different bassist, and our last tour with him was last spring, when we went down to South By Southwest. I needed to sublet my room for the length of the tour and had met Ian a couple months prior. He was looking to move to NYC at the time and he got his start in my room in Bushwick. We started hanging out a lot then and he was coming out to all of our shows and partying with us and everything. When our previous bassist left the band in the summer, we started jamming with Ian and it was a really nice transition.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS ON THE ROAD: Burleigh: Our van’s brakes actually caught on fire leaving SXSW last year. Luckily no one was hurt or anything, but putting out the flames on the side of a highway was a pretty strong adrenaline rush.   Mendelsohn: The people who took us in while we were in New Orleans. I met a girl who worked at the coffee shop, which served as the artists’ home base for the festival we were playing, and we all ended up hanging out in her backyard painting t-shirts and eating spicy things. There was something beautiful about that day.    Mellencamp: When our drummer, Jesse, got up on stage and played drums “unexpectedly” with Atlas Sound.

WHEN THEY KNEW IT WAS A GOOD FIT: Mendelsohn: When we went into Grand Street Studios to begin recording what we’d eventually finish at Stratosphere studios, we decided to record live so we could get a lot done on a short budget and short timeframe. Hearing those sessions back for the first time was a nice boost to our band’s confidence. I didn’t know if we’d be able to do that. 

LIVE INFLUENCES: Mendelsohn: We hope to give big groups of people a fun time; we hope they’ll feel inclined to dance and thrash around with each other. I saw St. Vincent, which blew me away. Wed like to be able to hold an audience like she can, but in a different way.   Mellencamp: I saw tons of great bands this year at festivals, like Moogfest and Camp Bisco. The Flaming Lips, Ghostland Observatory, Ratatat, Bassnectar, and Spongle were all amazing and inspirational bands to see live.   UNEXPECTED INFLUENCES: Mendelsohn: Kurt Vile. Most people wouldn’t realize that I’m more of a fingerpicker when I play on my own. I dig all his stuff a lot and it does inform the sound, but a listener might not be able to discern the fragile beginnings of these songs after the band gets its hands on them.    Mellencamp: Upon joining the band, I soon discovered our guitarist/violinist, Nick, occasionally reveals his influences and musical roots by spontaneously busting into musicals ranging anywhere from Rent to West Side Story to Aladdin. It’s a whole new world, baby.   Burleigh: I grew up playing classical violin, and I was always attracted to the great romantic composers – Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Saint-Saens. It makes me always want that over-the-top epic quality to anything we play, which the other guys, thankfully, are able to temper nicely.

FOR MORE ON THE YES WAY, VISIT THEIR WEBSITE.