Tag Archives: Rachael Yamagata

Happy Holidays from Donewaiting.com, Rachael Yamagata and Mike Viola

Earlier this week we had the chance to hang out with Rachael Yamagata and Mike Viola for a few minutes before their show at The Basement. Seeing as how it’s the week of Christmas, we figured it would make sense to make this a holiday-themed interview.

WARNING: Mike Viola debunks a very, very, very famous Christmas myth – the BIGGEST Christmas myth – during the interview. Parents should NOT allow young kids to watch this unless you want to do some explaining!

Believe it or not, we didn’t notice the cartoon drawing on the couch that Rachael and Mike were sitting on until after the interview was over.

Interview: Mike Viola (opening for Rachael Yamagata @ The Basement, Sunday night)

It seemed like a strange billing – one of the most criminally underrated power-pop songwriters of our lifetime opening for a young, up-and-coming female singer-songwriter – a tour that makes a stop in Columbus, at The Basement, on Sunday night.

But, as Mike Viola explained when I talked to him on the phone from Alabama last week, it all makes sense. Viola is currently on tour promoting his latest release, Electro De Perfecto, which came out in October. If I’m doing my math correctly, this is Viola’s 11th release under either his own name, under the name The Candy Butchers, or a combination of the two, Mike Viola and The Candy Butchers. It’s hard to keep straight though one thing is for certain, if you’re a fan of power-pop music, you’ll want to get your hands on EVERYTHING Viola has done.

Unfortunately, though we talked for nearly 45 minutes, I completely forgot to ask him about his contributions to two recently released compilation albums. But, the cover songs deserve to be heard so check out his version the Smiths “How Soon is Now?” from the album Please Please Please: A Tribute to The Smiths and his version of Ratt’s “Round and Round” from Engine Room Recording’s Guilt By Association Vol. 3.

“How Soon is Now?”

“Round and Round”

How did your tour with Rachael Yamagata come about?

A couple of years ago we met and I started writing songs with her for her soon-to-be record. She was going through the ringer with Warner Bros. and eventually got dropped. She called on me to help her make her record – which I did. We put a bunch of the songs we wrote together on there. When her tour came up, she decided to hit the road and plunked down the money herself. She called me and said, “Look, I know you have a record out. Would you want to open and join me on my stage for my set?” I said, “Of course.”

I’ve toured a bunch with friends like Fountains of Wayne, They Might Be Giants, Robyn Hitchcock; it sucks having to play a set for 30-to-45 minutes and then sit around while your friends play music. It’s much more fun to join them on stage. Everyone’s like, “I don’t know how you have the energy to play all night” and I’m like, “This is what I do. I love it.”
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A slightly more personal take on Rachael Yamagata

I haven’t really written much about Rachael Yamagata, and what I have written tends to stick strictly to reviews of her music and previews of her performances. I’ve had lots of people ask me to write more about her, but I think that when a friend becomes famous you tend to grow overprotective of them. Considering Rach was like the little sister I never had, I’d say that was certainly the case in this instance.

However her name has been popping up more and more lately, so I’ve been thinking about her more.

My little brother pointed out that she did an interview with Mandy Moore recently — which really is a good read since it dispenses with the usual back-and-forth in favor of a more revealing look at how Moore actually operates — and I keep hearing murmurings that her new album is coming out in the near future, though I’ve been hearing that for over 6 months now, so who knows.

I don’t really get to talk to Rach that much anymore. Aside from a couple of “catch-up” emails a clomid dosage year we don’t really get to talk, which is too bad, but that sort of thing happens even with friends who still live in town, a couple blocks away from me. It’s just sort of the natural progression of things. There was a period of time where all we would do is have hours-long conversations late into the night, and now I think our last spoken conversation was at my birthday party last year. Or was that the year before? Time flies.

Anyway, I dug out some old demos of hers that never saw the light of day. One batch is a bunch of recordings she did with Chris Holmes, some of which showed up in her later released stuff in a slightly less gritty form. I can’t really post them or share them, since they were given me by the artists involved and I don’t think they were ever meant to see the light of day. What I can share, however, is a track off her first demo, since that got passed around, and at one point Rach was giving them away at her solo shows, so I think it’s safe to share it.

The track, “Super,” was in regular rotation in Rach’s early sets. I didn’t give Rach her first solo show, but i do think I gave her the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th solo shows! It was fun to watch her go from playing to an audience of 9, including me and two of her bandmates from Bumpus, to playing sold out shows. Due to timing constraints I haven’t seen her the last few times she came through town, and I admit it might be a little weird to see her playing the Metro to a sold-out crowd of Rachael Yamagata fans, but I’m sure she’s still terrific on-stage.

Anyway, “Super” is a little poppier than some of the stuff she’s now better known for, and I think it was maybe one of her attempts to write a “guitar rock” type of song. It’s a little simple, but in this case I think “simple” is perfect for the song.

MP3: Rachael Yamagata “Super”