Interview: Yawn Mower

Written by Laura Curry

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Yawn Mower’s heavy surf rock sound explores the themes of everyday life from public transit to bad dreams and childhood memories. Seeing the two-piece band shred on stage will leave you wondering WTF you just watched–in the best way possible.

Who is Yawn Mower? (Names of the band members & the instruments you play): (Mike) Chick plays the baritone guitar. Biff (Swenson) plays the drums. Both Chick and Biff sing the songs.

What year did the band form? Yawn Mower began in a basement in the summer of 2015. The hot water heater was recently replaced in said basement.

Where are you based out of? Yawn Mower is a product of Asbury Park & Red Bank, New Jersey USA.

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What’s the story behind your band name? It definitely stands out and I’m guessing it’s the exact opposite of how your music sounds? Yawn Mower is, and has always been about, pulverizing boredom at all costs.

How would you describe the sound of your music in terms of genre? Do you bring in other elements to surf rock that one wouldn’t normally expect? Our sound is rooted in surf, punk and indie rock. We try to play our instruments as hard as we can for the 30-35 minutes we have during in a show. We aren’t a traditional surf band but we like to think we carry on certain elements of the genre.

Who has your sound been likened to? People are mostly like, “WHOA, WTF was that?!” after a YM show.  I would say that our sound is like if two dudes tried to play heavy, feedback laden riffs over rippin’ drums with vocals over it. No one has compared us to an established band yet, which is fine. We are just trying to perfect the verse, chorus and verse structure.

Have you performed in bands before Yawn Mower? If so, what are the names of those bands and how did they influence the sound of Yawn Mower?  Chick and Biff have played in lots of other bands. Some you may or may not have heard of. Being in bands teaches you how to be in other bands more effectively and efficiently. The baritone guitar influenced the sound of this band more so than other bands we have been in.

Are there major themes explored in your music? If so, what are they? Chick tries to write lyrics that best fit with the chords that make up the songs we write. When I write these lyrics the subconscious throws out themes dealing with everyday life such as bad dreams, public transit, neighborhoods, the media, food and childhood memories.

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During your performances, how do you want the audience to be feeling? Do you tend to focus on crowd interaction? We are working on getting better at crowd interaction. It is easier to play the hell out of your instrument as opposed to actually interacting with the crown. We throw topics out to the crowd. Some topics work, some don’t. When they don’t work, we start the next song as fast as we can.

Every crowd is different, so some like some banter and others like other banter.  Every show is about learning what works.

Also, sometimes at shows the curtain closes and we hear people say, “WHOA, WTF WAS THAT?!?!?!” That’s what we want people to feel like after our shows. Not, “Hey, that was pretty good.” No. We want “WTF was that?”

What’s been the craziest thing to happen at one of your shows?  At one show, in the middle of getting some epic feedback, this dude offered me a beer. I didn’t drink it, but I though about drinking it.

What do you like most about being in Yawn Mower? Making a ton of noise with guitars, drums and loud amplifiers. Shredding. Playing with our friends bands.

When you consider all the bands in the Asbury Park scene right now — what do you think makes Yawn Mower stand out? To me, the most obvious thing is that you’re a two-piece surf rock band. Does this seem to surprise listeners?  My grandmother always told me that good hair and honest energy would take you to the places you need to go.

Would you ever consider branching out and adding more members to the band? Do you prefer being a two-piece band?  Why or why not? It’s tempting. Craigslist has a lot of good players ready to go, but at the end of the day, the less chefs in the kitchen, the better.

If someone has never heard your music before, what song would you recommend they check out in order to fully understand what Yawn Mower is about, and why? Check out “Convenience Store” because it has everything a popular single may or may not need.

Overall, what is your proudest accomplishment as a band? Right now, we are really proud of the EP we are about to release.

What’s in store for the rest of 2016? We have an EP coming out soon called “Get To The Boat.” After that, hopefully a hiatus, reformation and then another hiatus.

Yawn Mower performs tonight at Happy Mondays at Wonder Bar in Asbury Park.

Bill Bodkin is the Owner, Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Pop-Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He is beyond excited that Pop-Break will be seven years old in 2016 as this site has come a long, long way from the day he launched in it in his bachelor pad at the Jersey Shore. He currently works as a project manager in the telecom world, and is a freelance writer for NJ.com. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites