“We’re not realty into effects like flash bombs. We Just want to blow up our equipment by playing it to death’’ – Leonard Haze, drummer with Y&T.
“We know it’s not our fault that we haven t made it yet, cos we’re such a great band’ We’ve just had bad luck” – Joey Alves, guitarist with Y&T.
“Six months ago we were worried. We thought we’d never be able to top ‘Earthshaker’ for songs, but we’ve kept coming up with great tunes” – Joey Alves, guitarist with Y&T.
‘The future? Were gonna huge stars!” – A tongue-in-cheek Dave Meniketti, lead guitarist and vocalist with Y&T.
HEARD ALL this before from the lips of countless American rockers? Me too, but while the likes Ted Nugent and Dave Lee Roth can no doubt match the above quotes with ease, their vinyl product has, as often as not, failed to live up the immensely entertaining fore-talk.
Y&T are different. They’ll give you great quotes, but they could quite confidently let the music do the talking ‘Earthshaker’ was easily the best out and-out-Metal album of 1981, an unbelievable improvement on the San Francisco based quarters first two offerings, Yesterday Today’ and ‘Struck Down’, both them patchy and badly produced. Y&T it seems have come of age. Joey Alves agrees’
‘When we finally signed with A&M to do ‘Earthshaker’ it was the beginning of a new era, almost as we were two different bands, ‘Yesterday & Today’ was our first studio work and we didn’t really know what we were doing, while the second LP was a case of a producer wanting to further his own career rather than produce a great album. We’ve finally started working with people who believe in us and the change of name from Yesterday Today to Y&T kinda signifies the new era,”
Fair enough, but why a three year delay (!) between ‘Struck Down’ and ‘Earthshaker’?
‘We had to straighten everything out – find ourselves a label, break with management and at the same time keep our music together, which took all of three years to do property, We put our heads together and asked the question: ‘Are we willing to do things property?, to which the answer was yes. So we decided go for a major label and settle for nothing less, which is real hard but we did it. You can’t afford to make too many mistakes in this business if you want to stay in it,”
Especially if you’re playing Y&T style music in AOR dominated America, right?
“Right,” concurs Leonard. “The majority of American sounding bands get signed to major labels, which left us out in the cold. Yet we continued to sell out night clubs and pretty soon, the powers that be had to admit: ‘Whether we like it or not, the kids love these guys’.”
Joey takes up the story.
“We were like a balloon that was bursting. Guys started stepping in saying: ‘I don’t care about the conventions, if these guys can sell out in LA or San Francisco and their audiences are growing despite the fact that they play there every week, then they can do it anywhere in the world. You can’t sell out every month in California and not have something.’
“Lots of small bands in the States imitate the more successful groups but Y&T’s strength is that we have our own style. We’re four individuals with different musical tastes and ego trips. Each one of us incorporates his own personality into music and it comes out Y&T.”
Why a visit to Britain just now then, Leonard, when there’s enough new ground to be broken the States to keep Y&T busy from now until eternity?
“We’ve sold one or two records here firstly, and secondly the equipment and recording techniques here are better suited to our music. Plus, we’ve always lacked that filth member – the producer who knows what we want. We’ve now found him in Max Norman (responsible for producing Ozzy’s album) and he wanted to work at Ridge Farm, so here we are.”
There must be a huge number British fans more than a pleased at Y&T’s arrival. Judging from letters received and word mouth; they’re probably the biggest cult US Metal band in the UK and with justification.
‘Earthshaker’ a classic (true classic) album, so what do the Y&Ters think of British Metal and Metal in general?
“We don’t listen to much British Heavy Metal,” says Leonard “We saw Saxon and enjoyed them but it’s kinda like once you’ve heard three songs you’ve heard album.”
Joey: “I don’t knock the term Heavy Metal at all, cos it was Heavy Metal fans who stuck with us through the bad times. Anyway I think we are a Heavy Metal band, even if Leonard doesn’t, Y’see, everyone in the group has a different idea of what we’re about. We just write great songs.”
Amazingly, Joey, Leonard, Dave Meniketti and bassist Phil Kennemore have been working together as Yesterday & Today since 1974, ample time for these four longhairs to grow heartily sick of the sight each other, especially when one thinks of the pressure the band has been under, but no, they’re still laughing and joking, still 110 per cent convinced that they’re God’s gift to music. How have they managed to stay together?
“Because we hate each other!” comes the chorus.
Joey: ‘Eddie Van Halen once said to me ‘Don’t let anything stop you. You’re too good. It you let that happen, I’ll come lookin’ for you and I’ll kick your ass, so you’d better not quit!’ You’d better believe we’re gonna take his advice!”
I sure believe it, but less of the past. Let’s look to what must be a spectacularly successful future for this brilliant band. The new album is due in Britain in September and Dave and Joey are more than happy to whet our appetites with a sneak preview of what’s on the way.
‘Black Tiger’: Heavy Metal tune with a jungleish intro. It’s been in the set for a while and it’s a great song.
‘Open Fire’: Fast rocker in the vein of ‘Hurricane’.
‘Bar-room Boogie’: Hi-tech boogie Metal tune – definitely unlike anyone else boogie tunes.
‘My Way Or The Highway’: Slow rocker in a kinda AC/DC. Stonesy groove with real chunky guitar.
‘For Ever’: A sorta guitar hero song for Dave. Starts very melodically but gets realty heavy style of ‘Earthshaker’ or ‘Rescue Me’.
‘Winds Of Change’: The one ballad – a six minute tune containing acoustic guitars and a mind bending solo.
‘Hell Or High Water’: Has to be heard to be believed!
That just about sums up Y&T!
JULY 1982 – Y&T Marquee, London
‘HERE’S the moment you’ve all been waiting for!” hollered a decidedly sticky roadie as he introduced the heap of sweat and instruments that was Y&T. The Marquee uncannily resembled a warship in its last death throes, as bodies desperately sought relief from the most oppressive of heats, then suddenly remembered that they just had to go back to rescue their most prized possessions. In this case it wasn’t mementos, but rather the opportunity to witness four Californian guys who know how to rock!
The word was dearly out, for despite the fact that Y&T had never played a live gig in Britain before, denim battled with fearless flesh for poll vantage points as Dave Meniketti, Leonard Haze, Joey Alves and Phil Kennemore proceeded to do the business.
The business, in this case, being a set delivered with utter conviction giving the audience exactly what they wanted – rock as hard as granite and melodic to boot. This skill and strength was appreciated beyond measure, being the sole form of stimulation capable of keeping the frantic masses relatively upright
‘Hungry For Rock’ we were indeed, and even more thirsty for lager as Meniketti launched into the first of many memorable solos. Y&T had no intention of letting fans off lightly as they beat to the heat, reeling off three numbers from the almighty ‘Earthshaker’ album in quick succession. The aforementioned ‘HFR’, ‘Hurricane’ and ‘Dirty Girl’ lifted the atmosphere to fever pitch before a new number. ‘Don’t Want To Lose You’ provided the opportunity for some less frenzied headbobbing.
After collecting my ears from the other side of the hall, I managed to get a taste of the positively animal ‘Black Tiger’ In fact, it was a little too animal for a civilised human being but ‘I Believe In You’ and ‘Rescue Me’ brought the set back into the human sphere.
Setting the box office attendance record at the Marquee is no mean feat and despite Meniketti’s fingers occasionally slipping off the fretboard due to the oppressive sweat factor Y&T justified that achievement.
Reading Review SEP 1982