The faces behind Yawn Mower's raw and underground sound are the two-piece unit composed of Mike Chick and Biff Swenson. Born in Mike Biff's basement in Red Bank, NJ, in 2015, it took a baritone guitar and a prompting question to get the ball rolling.
Through shows in New Hampshire and Denver, CO, as well as several EPs and singles, September 2022 brings us Yawn Mower's debut LP, 'To Each Their Own Coat,' of which they have since released two singles.
Coming in hot with a third single, "Elevation," is dripped in 80s nuances as it's a nod to the new wave, alternative and post-punk scene brewed in that era.
This refreshing new sound tackled by Yawn Mower is chalked full of energy in both the instrumentation and vocal performance. With the moody and intense atmosphere of the record accompanying the enticing, first-person pan-glide viewing of the music video, we get swept into a rush of nostalgia.
Taking place at the local deli, Off Center Food Supply, Yawn Mower gets their hands down in the sandwich-making and register transactions. We not only get to view them in an "another day, another dollar" mindset, pounding out gritty lyrical motifs about elevating in life – but we get to follow around the other employees and customers going through the motions of their day-to-day lives.
Lucky for us, everyone is part of the edgy performance as they're all trying to get by and make it on the up and up of life, singing their hearts away. "Elevation" is a dense landscape featuring combo organs, synths, and vocals by Pam Flores, in addition to the traditional elements of fuzz baritone and booming drums that Yawn Mower is known for in their music.
Making it to the closing moments of the store operating hours, we take in the crew getting together and cracking open an ice-cold beer as they bask in making it through another day.
Much like what most of us go through regularly, you hear their aspirations and dreams evolve in ways that surpass the standard daydream. Pulling us into a highly relatable and topical scenario that fits into what we're all thinking, Yawn Mower's "Elevation" has us sold on the pipe dream we'll continue to chase after.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Yawn Mower. Congratulations on releasing your long-awaited debut album, To Each Their Own Coat — it's great! What was it like tracking most of the album with Evan Bernard and Chris Baglivo on the mix? How did you link up with them?
Biff: Thank you so much; we really appreciate that! It was a fantastic experience tracking with Evan. I’ve known him and his countless musical outputs since college. He’s a pillar of the Philly DIY scene. My band Earth Telephone tracked our debut full-length with Evan in a remote cabin near Woodward, PA, just before the pandemic hit. After being locked away for an extended weekend with him, I knew his attention to detail and constant drive to create was attractive enough to work together again stat. Not only was I confident that he could help me achieve the specific vision of how I wanted the drums to sound on this record, but I knew he was a baritone enthusiast because of his band, The Superweaks. It was instantly clear to us that he could help shape the skeleton of this record in a way no one else could.
Mike: That’s very kind of you. This was my first time working and hanging with Evan and Chris. I had seen Evan play once or twice but didn’t go as far back as Biff does with them, but I was down to work with them based on the songs Biff had played me. I think the best part of the experience was when we were tracking, and I had an idea for a part that referenced a specific band, and they mostly knew what I was talking about. That makes it much easier to get your ideas across. They are a super easy duo to work with.
You guys make stellar music videos, and we love the new video for "Elevation" this one-shot concept had us hooked from the moment we pressed play. What inspired it, and how many takes did it require before you nailed it? And where's this deli? It needs a shout-out.
Biff: Mike had pitched the idea of the band members working in a convenience store. Once we started riffing on that idea, I quickly pitched a continuous shot. I thought of films like Goodfellas and The Shining, but with a fever-dream DIY punk sheen. We shot the video with the song slightly slowed down, so it’d playback with a hazy, dream-like drawl.
Mike: We filmed the video at Off Center Market in Manasquan, NJ. Our friends recently opened the market and were nice enough to let us use it for the shoot. It was perfect. Get a sandwich or a mac and cheese block from them. Fun fact- Chris, one of the owners, plays slide guitar on our song “Shed Is Old” from our second EP, What’s All This New Piss?
Despite this being your debut LP, you've been composing music for years. What advice would you have for bands these days just starting out.... ? We often say the tried and true "it's not a sprint; it's a marathon..."
Biff: I’d start by saying make sure you’re doing it with the right people. A band is like a marriage. You spend a lot of time with these people, you spend a lot of money with these people, and your creative output is completely reliant on these people. Once you have a solid crew, gig whenever and wherever you can. Meet people, shake hands, and build connections with venues, bands, promoters, and patrons. Then the most important advice is don’t break up. Take breaks if need be, start side projects, and tour as a fill-in… don’t make any hard announcements that you’re on hiatus or breaking up. Name recognition comes with years of building up that Rolodex, so constantly ending projects to start new ones doesn’t help your brand as a creator.
Mike: Buy a tuner. Put it on your pedal board. Tune your guitar in between songs. Bands with no tuners happen more often than you think.
What is the Asbury Park, NJ scene like these days? Supportive? Competitive?
Mike: Restaurants come and go. Bands break up. People move out of town. But Asbury Park still attracts new artists and musicians all the time. It’s cool to see different groups of musicians bubble up and pop.
Biff: The scene here is loaded with a wide range of acts from many different genres, all of whom bring a certain professionalism to the stage. It’s both supportive and competitive, though. Everyone is gunning for opportunities to play with bigger bands when they pass through on tour or for bigger gigs outside of town. I have no qualms admitting that every show is a contest in my head. Even if I’m best buds with every band we’re playing with, the goal is still to upstage whoever else is on the bill. If you aren’t coming out of the gates with that attitude, I’d assume this is more of a hobby than a lifestyle for them.
Dream tour, what three bands/artists are you sharing the bus with?
Biff: Algernon Cadwallader, Tyler The Creator, Bon Iver.
Mike: Gorillaz, La Luz, Wilco.