When I first met Read Yellow, we were all hanging out waiting for the soundman to arrive. Evan and Jesse were testing out some gear they'd just gotten back from being repaired. Somehow, Evan had managed to tear out the input jack of his guitar, and I could see that the wood itself had been split apart and splintered there. Dave and I wondered how the hell something like that could happen to somebody's guitar. We found out once we got to see them play...
As good as their record Radios Burn Faster is, nothing can prepare you for the intensity of a live Read Yellow show. Evan is like a noise rock equivalent to James Brown. The guy will leap off the stage, land on his knees, and scream into your crotch without missing a beat. The rest of the band is insane as well. Paul plays the drums insanely hard. Michelle is insanely hot and will crush your skull with her bass. And Jesse is so insane, he'll sometimes just give a random audience member his guitar to make whatever noises they want.
I sent the band a bunch of questions, and Evan shot back with what is easily the most hilarious interview this little zine has seen so far.
I heard Read Yellow formed while you were all going to college together. Is that how you all first met? What were the early days of the band like?
I met Jesse through skateboarding. He had a haircut that was shaved underneath a long flop of hair and he looked like Jason Newstead of Metallica. We started stealing car stereos at first, we then decided to play really loud music together. We found Michelle in a gutter somewhere at Umass passed out drunk after a party… We nursed her hangover and then asked her to play bass in our band, The Helen Keller Conspiracy. Paul was a big glue sniffer and sold glue to all the local high school kids. We never talked to him, he just showed up one day and started playing drums for us. I have still only said about three words to him since I've known him.
What's the story behind the name Read Yellow?
Red and yellow are both the colors of communism and of Hulk Hogan's uniform. Most importantly, Read Yellow is really a secret society of bad kids that we started.
What I really love about your songs is how noisy and chaotic, yet focused they are. How do the songs tend to get written?
My equipment is usually broken, so it creates this really awful noise whenever I turn it on. Paul starts playing a beat over it and that's how read yellow songs are written. Sometimes we record a full trash can falling down a flight of stairs and try to sell it to DJs in New York. They love it.
You guys have such an incredibly wild stage show- How did the audience participation element of your performances come about? Was it a conscious decision, or was it something that just sort of naturally started happening?
For the longest time, and even to this day, a lot of kids like to stare blankly at us when we play. I always thought there was one of those 3D puzzles that you see at the mall behind us when we would play. When I realized that kids just were just not into dancing like idiots, I decided to start getting in people's faces and started yelling at their crotches. I don't care how cool you think you are, if some kid is yelling into your dick or vagina, you look funny. People just need to relax and if they don't look like they are having a good time, I am going to jump on them and try to get them into it.
Evan, you especially seem to put yourself through a lot of abuse on stage. Have you ever gotten seriously hurt doing what you do?
Jesse always hits me with his guitar in the face. I think he gets out his frustration that way on me. He is mad because we have slept with all the same women, only he won't find out until he reads this interview. I have way too many scars from shows…even Roger Daltrey can't play out an entire show with a severe concussion.
You guys have some pretty original takes on cover songs- like Bob Dylan's "If Not For You" and the Smiths' "Bigmouth Strikes Again". What other cover songs have you guys messed around with in the past?
We used to do this really ill cover of Michael Bolton's, "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You?" but then Fall Out Boy tried to sue us for stealing his sound after they stole it first.
Read Yellow is one of the few bands I know that have toured abroad as well. How were you able to put that together?
Paul sold glue to all the high school kids in England and those kids became our street team in the UK. Word spreads faster when you are all fucked up on glue.
How did the audiences respond to your performances over there? Are there any differences between touring in the UK and Europe and touring in the US?
Unlike America, we did not get called "fags" and did not have guns pulled on us. In England, a 2 hour drive to a show is considered a long drive. Everywhere we have been, we have been really lucky with meeting great people, good kids are universal.
Between Read Yellow and Eyes Like Knives, it seems like some really good music is coming out of the Boston area once again. What’s the scene like there today? What other local bands would you recommend?
There are a lot of good bands coming out of Boston, but western Mass has always been where its at as far as having shows and mixing genres at these shows. What is best about Western Mass is its lack of cliques within the "scene". Kids just enjoy good music out in Western Mass, they really don’t give a shit. As far as Boston, some good local bands are Aerosmith, Boston, The Cars, and Doom Riders.
What’s next for Read Yellow? When can we expect your next album?
We are hitting the West coast in March on our "In & Out" Tour 06 with Bullet Train to Vegas and Haram. We will have a new album for everybody to talk shit about in the Spring. Our new stuff sounds like a mix between REO Speedwagon and Black Flag. You will hate it.