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Yeasayer's Chris Keating talks Kanye West, Ian Ziering and insane videos



Freakish, alien landscapes with pits of bubbling mud. Apple-shaped planets inhabited by metallic green cockroaches. A fleshy, amorphous blob-pet owned by actress Kristen Bell.

These does not sound like ingredients in a recipe for pop music success.

But that’s the beauty of Yeasayer, the psychedelic, avant-garde pop band from Brooklyn that’s playing the State Theatre on Monday. The massive online hype that has followed the Brooklyn band over the past three years has been fueled, in part, by their trippy videos for singles like Ambling Alp, Wait For The Summer, and O.N.E. Their latest effort, Madder Red, stars Bell as a working actress struggling to care for a sickly, slimy mutant of a pet.

So while the band’s music — notably their latest album, the weird yet infectious Odd Blood — is certainly worth discussing, when we got Yeasayer frontman Chris Keating on the phone recently, we decided to talk about music videos.

Did you watch the MTV Video Music Awards?

I actually did. It was the first year I’ve watched them in 10 years.

Did you see any videos you liked?

I didn’t, no. I thought they were all really, really bad. I liked Kanye’s performance at the end, because he always pulls of something very original, whether it’s good or bad.

Really? Kanye’s been taking a lot of heat for that weird, unorthodox performance.

Oh, yeah, but I thought it was really good. The whole stage, he didn’t fill it up with stuff — just a sampler on a column, and then some ballerinas. And then he’s singing this song that I think is either the worst song I’ve ever heard, or the best song I’ve ever heard. It’s the dumbest hook, but it’s something that takes a lot of balls to pull off.

I just saw the Madder Red video (posted above). Do you have a name for that weird, fleshy blob-pet?

Yeah, he’s called Bobble. The director, Andreas (Nilsson), who’s from Sweden, had a friend who was a sheep farmer, and one of the sheep gave birth to this weird mutant sheep that had one leg, and one hoof, and was slightly deformed. For some reason, that became really crucial to Andreas to include this character in a video. We started talking about it, and we wanted to include an actor, and have the theme of an actor going to auditions. Originally, we were thinking about Ralph Macchio or someone from 90210, and then Kristen agreed to do it. That seemed to work out pretty well.

It worked out well, but it’s odd that she would be third on that list, behind Ralph Macchio and someone from 90210.

Well, that’s true. Ian Ziering was high on the list, because we thought to be realistic, we wanted it to be someone who had a certain amount of acclaim at one point, and then was living at home and still going on auditions, and living the darker side of Hollywood, and then at the same time taking care of this weird, deformed mutant friend.

Yeah, he seems like a guy that could happen to.

Yeah, that’s real. Or even Luke Perry or any of these guys who are much prettier. We did contact them, and I think they all said no.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 3:56pm]


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