Vocalist Karen O met drummer Brian Chase at Oberlin College in Ohio at the very end of the 90s. When Karen transferred to NYU she and guitarist Nicolas Zinner formed a folk band in 2000 named “Unitard”. No joke!
After absorbing a bit of the New York art/punk scene the group quickly changed direction. Zinner grabbed an electric guitar. Karen got her Chrissy Hynde gear on. And after a stint with another drummer they drafted Karen’s old friend Chase to play drums.
They named the group “Yeah Yeah Yeahs” and got gigs opening for the Strokes and the White Stripes. Their first release was in 2001 but their first real hit was on MTV in 2004. The love song “Maps” hit as a video single from their first full-length “Fever To Tell”. One of rock’s greatest love songs.
2006’s Show Your Bones was their second full-length record and hit number eleven on the album charts. “Phenomena” was by far the best song, with percussive breathy stereo vocal effects, crunchy guitars and primal drums.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ 2006 Is Is EP features one of my favorite lesser-known YYY songs. With the lyrics “Maybe my snake is a shark tonight…” Here’s “Kiss Kiss” live!
But the very best YYY song of all is “Zero”. From the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ best full-length, the 2009 release It’s Blitz.
Director David Finch (Fight Club, The Social Network) took bestselling book Girl With The Dragon Tattoo to the screen in 2011. The audio highlight is when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O teams up with Trent Reznor to cover Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”.
A new record Mosquito is due out in April of 2013. For more on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs visit their official site.
Tune in to DJ Michele Myers Friday nights at 9pm on KEXP 90.3FM Seattle, kexp.org. Music historian and producer, Michele’s made over 200 radio stories for KEXP Documentaries. She’s also written scripts, lesson plans and features forThe Smithsonian, Experience Music Project, the University of Washington and NPR.