2016 Artist Survey: Max Bloom of Yuck
Bloom on 2016's Best Albums, Trump and the Election, Time Travel, First Kisses, Best Band Names, and Scary Movies
Jan 17, 2017 Issue # 59 - 15th Anniversary Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern (for Under the Radar)
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For Under the Radar's 14th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2016. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2016 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions. Here are some answers from Max Bloom of London four-piece Yuck. The band's third album, Stranger Things, came out in 2016 via Mamé Records.
For our annual Artist Surveys we emailed the same set of questions to musicians about Trump and the election, 2016's deaths, self-driving cars, Stranger Things, first kisses, scary movies they shouldn't have seen as a child, which Friends character they are most like, and much more.
Pick up or download Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue for Artist Survey interviews with Amber Arcades, Austra, Faris Badwan of Cat's Eyes and The Horrors, Boxed In, Caveman, The Charlatans, Cursive, Lucy Dacus, The Dears, C Duncan, Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, Dutch Uncles, Ezra Furman, Robyn Hitchcock, The Invisible, Justin Lockey of Editors and Minor Victories, Lost Under Heaven (LUH), Lush, Midlake, Phantogram, The Range, Springtime Carnivore, Sunflower Bean, Surfer Blood, TEEN, The Thermals, Nick Valensi of CRX and The Strokes, Jenn Wasner of Flock of Dimes and Wye Oak, and Yuck.
A shorter version of Yuck's survey appeared in the print version of Under the Radar's Best of 2016 / 15th Anniversary Issue, this is the full unedited version.
Top 10 Albums of 2016
1. David Bowie: Blackstar—| As soon as I heard "Blackstar" (the song) it very quickly became my favorite-ever Bowie recording. Its one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces of music I've ever heard.
2. Iggy Pop: Post Pop Depression
3. Bob Mould: Patch the Sky
4. Mogwai: Atomic
5. Deftones: Gore
6. Teleman: Brilliant Sanity
7. Hurry: Guided Meditation
8. PJ Harvey: The Hope Six Demolition Project
9. Radiohead: A Moon Shaped Pool
10. Dinosaur Jr.: Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not
2016 was regarded by many as a fairly tough and negative year. Was it also a hard year for you personally? If so, how? And also what were the high points for you?
2016 has felt like it's been a really long year with a lot of ups and downs. We released Stranger Things, which was the culmination of a lot of hard work. We also had the chance to travel to a lot of unique places; China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Brazil, and Mexico. In a lot of these places I had some time to go and explore, which is quite a rare thing when you're touring. Touring often comes with a down side, as we discovered when we were touring around the U.S. The shows were great but it was pretty non-stop, and by the end we were all physically and emotionally drained.
What are your thoughts on how the U.S. presidential election played out?
I wasn't surprised, but I was really saddened.
Let's discuss Donald Trump. What does the rise of Trump tell you about America in 2016? What concerns you most about a Trump presidency? How do you think his presidency might personally change your life? What message do you have for those who voted for Trump? What actions will you take over the course of the next four years to either protest a Trump presidency or support it?
British and American politics have been mirror images of each other for a while now, and after Brexit I could tell which direction American politics was heading in. People in the U.K. who voted for Brexit were sold a bunch of lies by an incredibly wealthy group of men who embraced a real problem, but didn't offer a solution, just offered someone or something to blame, e.g. immigrants, European bureaucracy, etc. A lot of people in the U.K. have been left behind in the same way that Americans have. If I was American, I would've voted for Hillary, but I think Bernie Sanders would've made an incredible president. The fact that Hillary won the popular vote also reflects the kind of fake democracy we have in the U.K. The voting system needs to be reformed to reflect the actual will of the people. What concerns me most about the Trump presidency is the constitutional changes that he could make that work in his favor, i.e. ensuring the GOP doesn't have to go through a defeat like it did with Obama. As far as how it will change my life, we'll just have to see. America and the U.K. have always been somewhat "allies" but that may not be the case for much longer. I don't have any message for people who voted for Trump. They had their own reasons for doing so, and now America has to live with the consequences for the next four years. I thought that as a human race we had overcome the need to build walls against each other, but hopefully people will eventually come to realize that it doesn't achieve anything.
What reality TV star would you have rather been elected president?
I think Cher would make a great president.
If you were president, what would you try to accomplish in your first 100 days in office?
Universal healthcare, voting reform, an education system that takes into account the needs of the children rather than ticking boxes (similar to Finland), free higher education, better maternity/paternity leave, a shorter working day, decriminalization of drugs and better aftercare for addicts, banning guns, and perhaps most importantly, MAKING TROLLEYS FREE AT ALL AIRPORTS.
Which Friends character are you most like?
I've always related to Ross. I also think Ross is the funniest. If someone says that Phoebe or Chandler is their favorite, I usually decide at that point that our relationship can't progress any further.
What scary movie did you see way too young as a child, how'd you end up seeing it, and does it still scare you now?
I saw The Blair Witch Project when I was 10 or something and that freaked me out so much. I kind of got obsessed with it a little bit. I think it would still freak me out if I saw it today. I was also freaked out by The Ring, but as I got older I realized a really big flaw in the plot—everyone who watches the tape has a big TV, ample room for the creepy girl to crawl out of. But what if you're watching on a laptop, or a tiny little handheld TV? Would the girl come out and be tiny? In that case you could just kill her with a big book. Or would she only be able to stick her hand out of the screen? Also who the fuck has a VCR player nowadays?
Are you ready for self-driving cars and a more automated future?
I'm so ready. God bless you Elon Musk.
Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.
That's a really tough question. There was a guy who came to our show in Sao Paulo a couple of days ago who had travelled 2000 km to see us, and that was pretty amazing.
Tell us about your first kiss.
It was in a game of spin the bottle. It was a beautiful experience, and it really made me grow up and appreciate the wonders of life. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since last week!
Under the Radar has been around for 15 years now, since December 2001. How do you feel the music industry has most changed in that time, both for the better and the worst?
I think that the accessibility of music has made it become less of an art form and more of a commodity. Essentially I think that music has become less of a special thing. However, I think this has changed the mentality of musicians in that you have to be more creative and more willing to push boundaries in order to get your voice heard.
Which Stranger Things character do you most relate with? Why?
This is a question I get asked a lot for obvious reasons. I like Dustin a lot. I think he's a really cool kid.
Which news source did you trust and turn to the most this year, in particular during the U.S. election?
During the U.S. election I mostly just read the same newspapers I always do in the U.K., but since I've been on tour in Brazil I've been watching a lot of CNN in the run up to the election. Not really out of choice, just because it's usually the only channel in English.
What do you miss most and least about the touring lifestyle when you're not on the road?
I miss making my own food. I love making food at home, and there's barely any chance of that happening on the road unless you're staying at someone's house. I also sometimes miss just chilling out on my own. I like being around people but I also get a lot of energy from just doing my own thing.
What's usually the biggest stumbling block to your happiness?
Probably my constant anxiety and crippling self-doubt!
If you could travel back in time, which historical or personal event would you most like to change and why?
Everyone's always like "Kill Hitler, kill Hitler!" but I would probably go back and... No, fuck it I would kill Hitler.
What band, besides your own, has the best name?
What's usually the first thing you do when you wake up and the last thing you do before you go to sleep, beyond the obvious tasks?
The first thing I do when I wake up is drink a shit ton of water. Then I make coffee and play with my cat. Before I go to sleep, I like to listen to a podcast and play with my cat some more.
What's your all-time favorite movie?
I really like this movie called Happiness by Todd Solondz. I'm a really big fan of horrible black comedy, and this is kind of as dark as it gets.
What would be the worst punishment the devil could devise for you in hell, if he exists?
Probably walking up a spiral staircase but never reaching the top.
What song would you like to be performed at your funeral and who would you like to sing it?
I would really like Bon Jovi to sing the "Macarena" for me.
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