My initial impression of the post-punk outfit YAMMERER was presented through the kaleidoscopic eye of the garrulous J George JC, the band’s frontman and, in my representation of him, quite the storyteller. Initially, I was scheduled to speak with only JC, who cunningly attempted to manoeuvre me into concocting a wacky concept for the interview. In his vision, the interview would take place at John Lennon Airport, where I would be introduced to a 4’4” Japanese man named Hiro purporting to be the band’s manager; the peerlessly inventive saga would then take in massage chairs, a casino, a missed flight, a Deal Or No Deal fruit machine, a ladybird neck pillow and the ramblings of the collective’s fictional manager, through whom they would converse. Although obliged to leave J George JC’s creative efforts to his lyricism, I manage to sneak in some questions to the rest of the group while they aversely have their photos taken.
“We want to be mixed in with the crowd and walk along the crossing so it’s not focused on the band. A bit like Where’s Wally, but it’s all of us.” As I shiver in the wind outside the Albert Dock, attempting to get the perfect non-band photo proves difficult as people scurry from their day jobs and eagerly head home for dinner. We head towards the Liver Birds while our photographer Michael suggests it may be a more suitable backdrop given we’ve run out of daylight. Guitarist GC witters “No big landmarks, none of us are actually from Liverpool”. JC walks toward the water with his oversized umbrella held firmly in his right hand as he takes his shoes off and rolls up his trousers, stepping into the icy marina unfazed. “Stay there JC,” I say. “Turn around and spin the umbrella above on your head. Nobody smile, this isn’t supposed to be fun.” I’m poking fun at the idea of serious musicians needing serious photos. I step back and think about J George JC’s story of Hiro. As intriguing as the concept was, I couldn’t help but wonder why a band with little press, no Facebook page or SoundCloud would prefer to mask themselves behind an elaborate story.
As we continue to take photos, I dig a little deeper and find out what experiences led them to form as a ‘band’ in the first place. Weaving psychedelic tendencies together with characteristic repetitive percussion, the early development of Yammerer’s sound came from a year of jamming without a singer or a name. In fact, they found their missing piece in JC through an ad they posted on Gumtree, which stated they were looking for a “Can/The Fall-type singer”.
“We had about 10 responses. It’s like people didn’t even listen to the kind of music we’d asked for. Mostly wannabe pop-starlets, it was ridiculous and I was getting sick of it,” exclaims guitarist GC. “Then literally one email came through and it was JC going, ‘I can do that’. So, I simply replied, ‘Oh, can ya now?’ and before I knew it, I had an a cappella-type spoken word recording through, wondering then who this madman was.”
JC, who was in a transitional period, felt that timing was everything in the initial formation of the band. “I was a bit at my wits’ end and going through a lot of change. I wanted to make a band because my old one, Spliff Priest, had just dissipated so I didn’t know what to do. I rang round everyone I knew to see if there were any bands going and there just wasn’t. I looked on Gumtree, saw the ad and thought: wow, I can definitely do that because it was what I had been doing anyway.”
From there, the rest of the band had made the conscious decision to take him on. “By the end of the first weekend, a few practices in we kind of convinced ourselves that if we’re not using this guy, then what the hell were we waiting for?”
Some years later, Yammerer’s artistic efforts demonstrate that they are still winding through life as a quasi-band, discovering their own distinctive parameters. They’ve certainly honed in on a sound that makes them uniquely Yammerer, using a sort of improv-punk aesthetic on stage to keep the entirety of the performance interesting. “Especially for the first few gigs we made sure to throw in some random stuff that JC would have to make up on the spot,” GC adds. “We would jump into songs that weren’t invented until we just started playing them right there on stage and see what happened.”
It’s true, there is an unpredictable element to a live Yammerer show. Fronted by a distinctively rambunctious singer who is known to thrash around with the audience, the core personnel behind him compliment JC’s onstage intensity. I noticed a shift, however, last November when I saw their show in Chester, commenting on how I had seen what seemed to be a softer side of the band, sans crowd flogging. I later found out it was because JC had a concussion and felt it was important to take it easy that night. Concussion or not, it worked and allowed the band to flourish on stage in a more genteel way. They all agree that, although JC was playing it safe, they pushed themselves to try something new. “The way I always said it is, we want to have peaks and troughs because that way you know that you’re actually trying to play on the edge of what your abilities are,” affirms GC. “We always knew there was room to harness the energy. You can either go straightforward and have everything be perfect in every set, or you can reach higher and possibly fail. So, we try that with each gig. But then we can hopefully have some kind of transcendence. Although we’re not the ones to say how well that’s working.”
The band’s mutual agreement that social media stifles creativity is perhaps why they have remained off the internet for so long. Although with the release of their first EP looming, naturally they have been prodded to start one by their label Restless Bear Records. Despite the subtle pressure, Yammerer seem unphased by the need for social profiles, something they believe increasingly smothers the music scene with pointless content. As guitarist SD comments, “We just feel it will be a bit shit to put something up that won’t be doing us any favours.” I chime in and ask, ‘But what about journalists or fans, how can they find out more from you? Is this not limiting your growth?’ JC, quick to respond, observes how “bands have been around throughout history. Social media is such a relatively new thing and people have just jumped on it”. He continues: “After time people started to realise that maybe sitting in front of the TV all day really wasn’t that fucking good for you. I don’t need to have an extra thing that I don’t really want to be dealing with.”
With that, the EP Poisonous Reptilian Colleagues And Co. showcases a manifestation of Yammerer’s world, one that is blooming with ideas of escapism and has evidently benefited from their two-day recording session at Elevator Studios. On first listen, Yammerer drive more energy out of their short, yet powerful four track EP than most bands are able to gain from an entire album. GC mentions the band’s approach to the recording process by highlighting the importance of keeping the sound raw. “The final track that we’ve called Seasons 13-30 was very under developed on purpose,” he explains. “We come from different playing backgrounds in how we listen to and absorb music,” JC adds, picking up the thread. “We hope to delve deeper into that as things move along – we kind of pushed the boat out in our studio to mess around with things we haven’t unleashed on anyone yet.”
Using this method as the backbone for Yammerer has enabled the band to develop an intuitive approach which complements JC’s unconventional attitude towards the musical process. “A lot of our songs are first-takes, literally making them up on the spot and then we keep that blueprint for a lot of them,” he adds. “That’s what we took to Seasons…, we wanted to bring that element of surprise to the record. The other ones are well played by us and, with this track, we felt we could show a little bit more of what we think is a valuable energy that we bring.” Escapism is particularly evident on the song Airport, with its dominant and catchy riff, chiming well with JC’s monotonous delivery, a clear mirror image of the energy found in their live shows.
There is, undoubtedly, an odd sense of discipline required to go against the grain in popular music. To denounce social media as a platform for people to hear them is bold, but Yammerer seem confident things will unfold as they are meant to. While JC himself is still developing as a lyricist, the band continue to jam together the same way they always have, without any rules. As reflected so clearly with the distraction of Hiro and the airport, this entire notion of escapism fuels the power behind Yammerer, fitting so well with their creative vision to care less about portraying a bleak image of an average band to everyone. “Some stuff you want to have a meaning, and for me, I want to make people question the lens and how they see the world,” concludes JC. “It’s like The Death Of The Author. Whatever you say isn’t relevant because people will hear what they want anyway.”
PRCACO is released on 22nd April via Restless Bear Records. Yammerer play the Bido Lito! Social in association with Dig Vinyl on 25th April at the Kazimier Stockroom: tickets available now at ticketquarter.co.uk.