Wild Yaks

"a roman candle of a band" –The New York Times

The outstanding feature of Wild Yaks now is longevity. Almost 20 years ago I started writing songs because I was breaking up with my first ever real girlfriend and I didn’t know how to feel but the songs knew. I was 27. I hadn’t lost my virginity until I was 23! What an awkward nerd! In San Francisco, CA of all places! Maybe that’s what I was waiting for. Previously all I knew was my imagination and 80s and 90s suburban New Jersey. My idea of fun in high school was wandering dead end train tracks and abandoned overgrown factories high on LSD with other teenage boys that were survivors of family horror and trauma!

By 27 i had failed out of college two or three times and was living in NYC and I had a girlfriend finally and she was beautiful and smart and hilarious and fun and she loved me and was sweet to me and she cooked me delicious Indian food at home! And she was gonna teach me how to play tennis and she was an actress and we were gonna make plays and movies together and she knew people in the art world, had dated a famous artist, and she chose to be with broke ass useless dreamer me? And I moved into her house almost immediately I had been living in a commune in Staten Island and never went back.

And somehow that wasn’t enough and I had to go back to wandering alone. I knew in my heart of hearts I was never gonna stay with her forever. I moved out of her house and into the office of a defunct sweater factory off Morgan L stop. Previous tenants were pigeons who had covered the wood paneling in shit. I cleaned it and I painted it and I made it home and i went from being beautifully ensconced in loving partnership to lonely nights and cans of cheap beer and I wrote songs and I didn’t even know what songs were. The early songs were all about my ex-girlfriend. She is Tomahawk that was a nickname I had for her. River May Come is about the fatalistic inevitability of our separation. The textile factory was being turned into art studios. A guy named Josh Sitron built a recording studio. He heard me singing my songs in the hallway and invited me into his world. He recorded my first demo. My brother moved in. He played bass with and sometimes floor tom. The summer he started construction on Roberta’s Pizza I went to house sit and garden sit in the Hollywood Hills. I got booked a show and decided to put a band together. Jeremy Konner who would go on to co-create Drunk History played the bowed saw like Appalachia like ghosts singing. Jason Ritter, John Ritter’s son played the bass or the trombone or the drums I forget? Louie played the drums? Mark Schoenecker played recorder. Jeremy was Jack Black’s assistant. Jack Black was off making a movie that was never finished because a Wilson brother tried to kill himself. We rehearsed in jack black’s movie theater in his Beverly Hills mansion. After we played we’d get stoned and watch BBC Planet Earth. We had a show booked and no name. Sir David Attenborough said something about “Wild Yaks” and that was it. We played two shows. The second one was packed. Casting agents gave me their business cards. My friends couldn’t believe I wasn’t staying in LA. I wasn’t seduced for a second. I knew I was going back to New York

I met Martin working at Shoe Market in Williamsburg. It was a high time to be alive and selling women’s shoes to all the hipster girls. Martin heard the demo and wanted to play. He threatened to come to practice for like six months before he finally showed up. At first he was just gonna play the snare, my brother played the floor tom and a cymbal and Brandon Hoy played the bass and Zack Davis played lead guitar and sometimes Will Bates on sax. Over a couple jams Martin eventually assembled all the pieces of the drum kit and started playing it and we were all blown away. He was and is incredible. He’s been the drummer ever since. Almost 20 years

Eventually my brother moved to bass and eventually I kicked him out because Roberta’s was picking up steam and also because he was always fighting me on what I wanted to do. We started surreptitiously practicing in the basement of Shoe Market surrounded by towers of boxes of women’s shoes. Dan Scinta became the bass player. We still had Wailing Zack Davis on guitar in his pleated khaki pants. We hated his style. People would tell me they loved it because it added to the strangeness. We played hundreds of shows. A couple years went by. The offers never stopped coming. We played every DIY joint and bar and small club that had rock shows in Williamsburg and Bushwick and Lower Manhattan, twice. I calculated one year we played at least twice a week every week without leaving the city. Most of those places don’t even exist anymore. A list of their names would be like a list of legends

How many men did I reform and make into wild yaks? How many hearts have I broken kicking them out?

Jose Aybar has been playing bass as a Wild Yak for 13 years. He’s incredible both on and off the court he’s our defacto manager. He’s part of an incredible multi-national scene/community of Latin rocker brothers that know each from the Dominican Republic and Miami and Bushwick. As soon as he joined the band we started recording Million Years in his basement on Myrtle. Those songs are about Christine Huang and Crystal Benezra and Amelia Davis. Eddie Queso produced it. Jose knew him from Miami.

Eddie and Gio grew up together playing music. We’ve been friends with Gio forever but he’s been in the band about five years. It’s snuck up on me. He played percussion on Great Admirer. I don’t remember how or when or why he became the keyboard player. I love his playing. He’s all over the new record. His beautiful hooks elevate the agonized miasma from which the songs sprang.

These songs. Our new record. Our last chance. 20 years in. I often feel like I’ve wasted these men’s lives. Like they’re so talented and I’m so useless they could have been more successful and happier had they never met me!

And now we’ve ensnared Jairo our new lead guitar player, our newest youngest member. He just moved to NYC from Colorado. About a year now. Jose met him when he was on tour with Las Rosas. They played a show together in Denver. Jose made a note of him and filed him away in his database Rolodex. Jairo moved here a year ago for a girl. It didn’t work out with her. He didn’t know many other people in town. Then he became a wild yak. Now he has lots of friends. He stepped in shit

These songs! Most of them were written during covid when I figured I might die alone without ever finding love and beautiful partnership and affection again. It’s our best record yet. Our second purest since the beginning. I still want to see the world. I turn 47 in a little over a week. I hope for world peace and that these songs find a home in the hearts of 200-300 people in every city in the world and we can make just enough money playing every city to keep going. I am resigned to my fate and happy and humble to be my stupid self! Long live life long live love and brotherhood and humanity and dancing!

Tour Dates

Wild Yaks - Monumental Deeds
June 21, 2024
Ernest Jenning Record Co.
Wild Yaks - Live At Rippers
July 16, 2021
Ernest Jenning Record Co. / Open Ocean
Wild Yaks - Great Admirer
June 21, 2019
Ernest Jenning Record Co.
Wild Yaks - Rejoice! God Loves Wild Yaks
June 2, 2015
Ernest Jenning Record Co.
Wild Yaks - Million Years
November 20, 2012
Ernest Jenning Record Co.
Wild Yaks - 10 Ships (Don't Die Yet)
November 3, 2009
Ernest Jenning Record Co.

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