My Firsts: Chris Keating of Yeasayer | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Friday, November 15th, 2019  

My Firsts: Chris Keating of Yeasayer

My Density

Jun 06, 2019 Web Exclusive
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My Firsts is our email interview series where we ask musicians to tell us about their first life experiences, be it early childhood ones (first word, first concert, etc.) or their first tastes of being a musician (first band, first tour, etc.). For this My Firsts we talk to Chris Keating of Yeasayer. 

Yeasayer are releasing a new album, Erotic Reruns, tomorrow (June 7) via the band's own Yeasayer Records. Erotic Reruns is the follow-up to 2016's Amen & Goodbye, which was released via Mute. The New York City trio (which also features Anand Wilder and Ira Wolf Tuton) has gone back to basics, taking full artistic control and recording the album in home studios in each of their houses. Sonically, Erotic Reruns is perhaps Yeasayer's most direct album. "We were jokingly calling this our classic rock record at one point, referencing The Turtles or the Stones or Fleetwood Mac," said Keating in the album's press bio. 

Keating was born in the early 1980s and grew up in Baltimore. Keating and Wilder, who both sing lead vocals and write songs in Yeasayer, started performing together in high school, The Park School of Baltimore (where some of the members of Animal Collective also attended). Yeasayer garnered attention early in their career, with their 2007-released debut album All Hour Cymbal earning critical acclaim and shows with Beck, MGMT, and others. 2010's sophomore album Odd Blood got further acclaim, landing it on important end of the year lists and its songs appearing in notable TV shows and movies. 2012's Fragrant World landed the band on the cover of Under the Radar's print magazine.

Read on as Keating talks about first crushes, stalking Mr. T, a sexy vampire, his first job at a video store, and the exact date he lost his virginity.

First best friend?

Her name was Elizabeth and she lived across the alley from my grandmother's house. We used to take baths in a bucket. I remember thinking it was strange that she didn't have a penis.

First time you had to go to the hospital?  

I had to get stomach X-rays as a kid. I remember having to drink a huge cup of Barium, which I guess is a substance on the periodic table that enables the X-ray to see your guts more accurately. It was disgusting and chalky.

First time you fell in love? 

I had a lot of crushes as a kid. My first earth-shattering end of time love was my first girlfriend in 10th grade.

First person you kissed?  

Real kiss? With swapping spit and all that was a girl from Montreal in the summer of 1996. 

First time your heart was broken? 

See above.

First movie you saw in the movie theater? 

My mom went into labor while she was in the theater watching Miloš Forman's Ragtime. I often thought this would give me some deep spiritual appreciation of the film but that hasn't happened.

First TV show you were obsessed with?

The A-Team. B.A. Baracus (Mr. T) was the man. In my 20s I drove by his house outside of Chicago and he had chopped down all of the trees because he was allergic. I know this because his neighbor Richard Marx told me.

First album you bought? 

I remember buying Red Hot Chili Peppers' Blood Sugar Sex Magik and Metallica's The Black Album on cassette with my allowance money. I listened to them in a Walkman and remember being actually afraid to push play. Something dark and mysterious lay inside the polypropylene case. 

First favorite band?  

Michael Jackson was my first favorite artist. I remember really liking The Turtles because of the Golden Grahams commercial.

First favorite song?

"The Longest Time" by Billy Joel or anything by Carole King. 

First actor or actress you had a crush on?

Geena Davis in Transylvania 6-5000. An under-appreciated '80s gem. She plays a ridiculously sexy vampire that is obsessed with Ed Begley Jr. I also had a major crush on Tom Cruise in Legend

First concert you went to? 

Michael Jackson Bad tour 1987 in Washington, DC. My mom got tickets from someone at her work. We had pretty bad seats but it was still amazing. I clearly remember guitarist Jennifer Batten's crazy blond hair.

First music festival you went to?

HFStival. Probably 1996? I think Green Day played and Echo & the Bunnymen. 

First job you had? 

I worked at a video store in Baltimore called Video Americain. It was loaded with obscure stuff and had your typical snobby film buffs behind the counter. John Waters would come in often. After I turned 18 I was put in charge of the odious job of organizing the porn room. It was always in a bit of disarray and had weird big boxes instead of the standard size VHS boxes. A lot of the titles had many, many sequels in their series. Glory Holes of San Francisco 21,22,23 etc. An oft rented and coveted title was Michael Lewis' Dangerous Liaisons. I never saw it.

First time you got fired?

Never been fired. Perfect employee.

First car you owed? 

My grandmother gave me her 1995 Honda Civic. I drove it until the wheels fell off around 2010. 

First book you read outside of one assigned for school? 

Not necessarily the first book but one I remember enthralling me as a teenager was Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks. I think it's about a rebellious teenager that lives in a bus and deals drugs and ends up in Jamaica? 

First time you voted?

Al Gore. 2000. Fuck [Antonin] Scalia and his election meddling. Voting matters and if the mass murdering George W. Bush wasn't placed in power the world might be in a slightly better place today.

First major disappointment? 

Realizing I'm not as smart as my parents told me I was. Circa 1993.

First band you were in?

Sic Transit. We released a CD in high school called You Are My Density EP. We basically sounded like shitty Weezer mixed with shitty Pavement. Anand Wilder from Yeasayer was also in the band.

First professional recording session?

Professional what? 

First bad review? 

See: Pitchfork.

First anything else? (You're welcome to add any other notable firsts we missed.)

First tattoo:

October 2003. My ex-girlfriend gave me a tattoo of a big blue crab cus, you know, Maryland or something. 

First apartment:

Corner of East and Arnold St. Providence, Rhode Island 2001. This place had five different types of wood paneling on the walls.

First time taking Mushrooms:

January 2004. Providence, Rhode Island. My girlfriend and I did mushrooms and went to a party. I was standing next to a keg and bugged out pretty bad and needed to leave. Going to a party on mushrooms is a bad idea unless everyone else is on mushrooms. 

First time having sex: 

May 29, 1998. What a revelation. Someone will actually have sex with me. Oh lucky day!

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