Cayucas brought California vibes and sun-pop to Brooklyn, and to a jam-packed Knitting Factory, on August 29. I sat down before the show with lead singer Zach Yudin and his bandmates Ben Yudin, Casey Wojtalewicz, and Russell Henon, to talk about surfing, music, and Michael Jordan.
V: Zach, before Cayucas you had a band called Oregon Bike Trails. What started Cayucas, how was the band “born”?
Zach: Well, the guy who runs the label made me come up with a different band name to suit the sound a little better. And we had a song called Cayucos, so he threw out the idea of making that song title the band name. It just makes more sense. Oregon Bike Trails was just a name that I came up with before there was even a song. So once there was actually an album created, Cayucas made more sense.
V: Zach (vocals) and Ben (bass), you’re twins—was it a natural thing for you to be in a band together?
Zach: Yeah, we have been writing songs together for quite a while. A lot of times I would write a song and Ben would add his guitar. So yeah it was a pretty given thing.
Ben: Family bands are probably the most convenient thing ever. Cause you already live together already (laughs).
V: Zach, you used to live in Japan, where you created electronic music. How did you switch to beach-pop?
Zach: I had always been changing styles of music. I wrote electronic songs, and I also tried singer/songwriter songs. I had a chillwave thing too. I did three or four songs, but then the chillwave thing just kind of died out. I guess I just for some reason always wanted many many projects. When I wrote these songs for Bigfoot, I just kind of rolled with it, and this style just came.
Zach: It was good! I spent a couple of weeks in this cottage in Oregon, and we did one song a day, ending up with ten songs. It was cold and rainy which was kind of weird. It rained the whole time I was there.
V: That’s funny, cause your music sort of personifies sunshine and happiness.
Zach: Yeah, so it was just weird that during recording it was raining everyday. It was just this typical Oregon rain, not downpour, just wet. It was just a very weird environment.
V: “I had to hitchhike back to Montezuma” and “Michael Jordan is standing six feet tall” are lines from your song “Will The Thrill.” From where do you get inspiration for writing songs?
Zach: Well, this album was pretty much based on nostalgic moments. That Michael Jordan-part was based on a poster I had of him as a child, where he stood with his arms spread.
Casey: Oh, yeah, his arms spread were longer than his body right?
Zach: Yeah, I think so. You know if you stick your arms out, that’s how tall you are.
V: Zach, when do you write your lyrics? Certain moods, places?
Zach: Hmm when I write? Well it’s all very random I guess. I just start my day, get a cup of coffee and just write a little bit. It just sort of goes on throughout any time of the day, when I feel like it.
V: How would you describe your music?
Zach: We usually just say indie rock to be very general. But sometimes we say beachy music, like vintage 60’s rock.
Casey: I just usually say vintage beach pop.
Zach: Yeah, that gives you a general idea. Usually, you need to give people something more specific you know.
Casey: You know, I have heard a lot of people compare us to Beck a lot, or something like Beck vs. Beach Boys vs. Vampire Weekend.
Ben: Or generally I think a lot of people just Beach Boys kind of music.
V: Your music is connected a lot to the Californa surf culture and is often labeled as “surf-pop”—do you all actually surf?
Zach: Yeah! We actually all do, unlike the Beach Boys… (laughs).
Casey: It’s funny because there is really only one song about the beach, and we never really talk about surfing.
Ben: Yeah but we do talk about things related to the beach, like swimming and so on. So I guess that is how that connection is made.
V: So I must ask, are you all originally from Cali?
Casey: Yeah we all are. The brothers [Zach and Ben] are from Davis, and now we all live in L.A.
V: I heard you got inspiration from classic surf-pop legends such as The Animals and The Beach Boys, but is there anything besides music that brings you inspiration?
Zach: I think just the California vibe has been giving me a lot of inspiration lately. I like being able to relate to the people of California, since I grew up there and lived there my whole life.
V: Both videos for “High School Lover” and “East Coast Girl” are playful and fun. Was it as fun to record them? Did you have a large impact on the final result?
Zach: It was all the directors’ treatments. It was all their ideas—I give the cred to them. We just did what they said (laughs). For East Coast Girl, the director Steven Andrew Garcia just told us to put on white suits and play basketball. All you can do in that situation is to put on a filter- and feel if and idea seems to make sense. The High School Lover director, Cameron Dutra, is this really smart guy, and he had been working on that glitchy thing that just seemed to fit the beat. So it made sense to make us glitch throughout the entire video.
Casey: For the next video, Zach hooked up a celebrity connection, for our song “Will The Thrill”, but so far that’s a secret we cant tell (laughs).
V: You have been touring a bit in Europe. Is there a big difference between your fans there and the ones here in the US?
Zach: Hmm, not really. Or not that I can specifically think of.
Russell: I feel like sometimes I can feel it. It depends on where you are. There are some places that stand out, like when we were in Barcelona.
Ben: Yeah, Barcelona was a super cool crowd.
Zach: Yeah they were really awesome, but I didn’t come back from Europe and feel like there was a huge difference between our fans here and there.
Casey: Well, I have to say though, the first time we went to Europe we had literally just released Bigfoot. But even though our album was so fresh, people in Spain already knew all the words, which was pretty rad. So it’s going to be great to go back since the record has been out for a while now, to see if there will be some sort of difference in the crowds.
Russell: What I have heard about European fans is that they are more prone to listen to entire albums, whereas in the US its all very singles based. I think in Europe they are less swayed by what you are supposed to listen to, and just take in the whole thing, and then make their own selections for what they like the best. It’s going to be interesting to see if there really is such a difference.
V: Do you have a dream venue or place where you want to perform?
Casey: Red Rocks!
Zach: Or Fillmore. Or The Wiltern.
Ben: I would probably say Hollywood Bowl. I don’t think it gets any bigger.
Zach: I would also love to play in Central Park at sometime, that would be cool.
V: What are your upcoming plans for Cayucas?
Zach: Well right now we are pretty much just focusing on this tour. We are super excited about going on a tour in Europe again also.
Russell: Wait! I got this! I know all the countries I think… Ireland, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark. I think those are all the countries right?
Zach: We are starting to work on some new tracks, but now we will just have more touring through the rest of the year. In November we are going a lot of California shows, and we will be coming back through New York.
Casey: Yeah, we are going to be playing with Ra Ra Riot at Terminal Five in October.
Zach: Yeah really looking forward to that!
Catch Cayucas with Caveman and Ra Ra Riot at Terminal 5 on Wednesday, October 9.