December 12, 2014 at 11:00 AM
By Chelsea Mae Hassman
photo by Chelsea Mae Hassman
Brooklyn turns out a huge amount of particularly great bands. One of the best, Yellow Ostrich has been a local staple for about 5 years. Originally just frontman Alex Schaaf’s project, over time the band grew to be a vibrant four piece. Recently, they announced that they’d be disbanding to move on to other things. This came at a particularly grim time for Brooklyn, where favorite venues, stores, cafes and more are closing left and right. On December 8th, they performed one final time at Glasslands, just weeks before the venue is slated to close. Alex answered some questions for us about the decisions surrounding putting YO to rest, his other project, Human Heat, choosing their final set-list, and more:
You just released Cosmos earlier this year. Why stop Yellow Ostrich so soon after a well-received record?
It was just feeling like a good time to close it up. we had kind of hit the end of the Cosmos record cycle and so we were naturally at a point of transition between a lot of different things. and we just decided it was the right time to move on to other things; i always wanted to end YO while it was still feeling good, and not on any bad feelings or anything, so I'm glad to go out the way we did. I think all good things have their time and that it's exciting to open new chapters and see what else we can do with this short little life we've got.
You mentioned in YO’s farewell post that you have another project you’re working on, Human Heat. Are you working with any of your YO bandmates on that project, or do you guys have plans to work together on anything else?
I definitely hope to work with all those guys again, i'm sure we'll all cross paths many times in the future. they're not on this Human Heat stuff but hopefully we'll play together soon!
What differences/similarities do you see between YO and Human Heat?
Human Heat is still very new at this point, officially it only has 4 songs, but it's definitely more electronic and beat-driven than a lot of the YO stuff, and there are some (amazing) guest singers on it (Teeny from TEEN and Val from Tei Shi) which is new for me.
Besides the fact that you played the first YO show as a full band at Glasslands, was having the final show there a conscious decision in a time when Glasslands itself is coming to an end?
When we heard Glasslands was closing, we definitely wanted to play there before it did. Then when we booked that, we started thinking about whether that should be our final show, it seemed like a very fitting way to go out, and i wouldn't have wanted to do our final show anywhere else.
What’s your favorite NYC or Brooklyn venue you’ve gotten to play? Why?
Glasslands will always have a big place in my heart, just for how many times we've played there. I also loved playing Bowery Ballroom, that was a huge thrill to be able to headline there twice, definitely crossed it off the life 'to do' list, it's just such a beautiful space and a great crew and people that work there, the total package.
Do you have a particular favorite memory with YO that you could share with us?
Getting a police escort past a traffic jam, to get into the Sasquatch festival a few years ago, that was pretty great.
If YO did a Secret Santa, what's the most ridiculous thing you’d get for one of your bandmates?
I would get Jared an Enya poster.
How did you guys pick a set list for the last show? Was is hard to narrow down?
It was definitely a challenge, and we spent a lot of time talking about it. we wanted to just play the most crowd-pleasers we could, we learned a few older songs that we haven't played in a long time (Fog, Hate Me Soon, Hold On) and brushed up on the other ones that we hadn't played since July. It's hard to take a song off the setlist, knowing that we'll never play it again, but we wanted the final show to be solid from front-to-back, and not make it super long and drawn out, because that wouldn't have fit what we had been doing this whole time.
photo by Donald Rasmussen