New York City’s Wild Yaks are back with a new album called The Great Admirer set for a June 2019 release and today we’re excited to premiere the latest song from that album, “Feast of Flesh.” Featuring chaotic-yet-delicately-intertwining guitar licks and vocalist Rob Bryn’s meandering vocals, the song is punctuated by the feel-good refrain of the titular lyrics, “I want some / feast of flesh.” The song slinks away just as quickly as it enters, fading off into the distance.
Wild Yaks also include band members Martin Cartagena (drums),Jose Aybar (bass), Patsy Carroll and Giovanni Kincade. Their fourth full-length album, The Great Admirer will be released on Ernest Jenning Record Co. on June 21, the same label that released their last three LPs. The band previously released the title track from The Great Admirer, another classic singalong that’s a little less laid-back than “Feast of Flesh,” featuring frenzied acoustic guitars, a fuzzed out electronic lead, celebratory horns and of course, Bryn’s instantly-recognizable vocal delivery.
Just listening to “Feast of Flesh,” it may be difficult to discern the meaning of the song. Bryn has penned an extended anecdote to give some perspective to his process:
“I’m pretty stupid and lazy and I don’t know anything really about music or the guitar. For a couple years I was playing a lot of chess. I was so bored and terrified of life and felt lacking in the power and motivation to construct a life for myself that seemed bearable to live. So I played chess as a place to put myself so I wouldn’t have to worry. Since I rarely had a job or a girlfriend and never a dog or any of those other kinds of things people do to fill their time and not go crazy.
So I started playing a lot of chess as a place to put myself. Mostly with this dude Cameron Hull. At various coffee shops around Brooklyn. I’m not that good at chess. I’m fine. But not actually good. Because I have a soft brain. Like I can be clever sometimes. Or say funny shit. But saying funny shit doesn’t feel like effort. I don’t know where the words come from. I have a soft brain. I can’t do much by squeezing. But to be good at chess you have to really want it and you have to look at that shit and squeeze your brain and follow all the courses and hold them. I’ve had glimpses of it. Is it effort I’m lacking? Raw talent and skill? Does it matter? All effort is worth it because the spirit takes joy at effort? Playing chess in person, not online, at least is not alone. Two human beings doing a weird thing together!
But anyway, I could never beat Cameron, like once every hundred times or something. I wanted to beat him so bad. I can be fiercely competitive. So I started watching YouTube videos about chess theories and techniques. And I started playing more and more online. And I beat him a couple times but then I was like, ‘You spend all this time thinking about chess and watching Youtube videos about chess but you know you’re not that good and it’s not a professional or even “serious” pursuit. Aren’t you a professional musician?’ I asked myself, (Ha!) ‘Shouldn’t you at least be watching youtube videos about music theory and guitar technique?’ So I did. Why not? I’d watch a video about a specific concept of music theory and then I’d use that to write one song or riff or something and I would forget the music theory concept and never think of it again.
What’s the point of all this? I was in John Hoppin’s living room in San Jose one of the years I went and did the marijuana harvest up north. I think I was on my way back from Mendocino and was staying with John and his lovely family. Everyone was asleep in the house except John and I, I don’t think his daughter Koko had been born yet so it would have been Nami and John, John asleep and me and John Sr. in the living room. We were drinking and smoking weed and listening to records and bullshitting. Which as you know is a wonderful thing for old friends to do after dinner is eaten and cleaned up and everything and everyone else has been put away. And we were listening to a sick reggae track and I was like, John, this song is just two chords? And he was like, ‘Yeah.’
And then days or weeks later I was in Los Angeles and I was hanging out with Alex Greenwald somewhere. And I was like, this reggae is only two chords. And he was like yeah, the one and the minor second. And I was like really? Like, A and B minor? And he was like yeah. So then I played it. A and B minor. And I saw a little bit more of what music is. And I didn’t mind that I was so stupid or had got to this understanding so late because at least I had gotten there. (The understanding by the way is not about the two chords it’s about the relationship between a line and a circle and the relationship between how human beings order past, present and future in their minds, and thereby create the illusion of music. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The wild animal in nature can never be truly settled because it never knows what the next moment brings. The human being can hear a note or beat, hear the next note and understand the relationship, and then anticipate and expect the third tone. And when the third tone meets their expectation, what joy! Peace. Certainty. We can relax. The future is not random. We can accurately predict it! Chess and music are similar in this way. The pleasure of life inside a system.)
Anyway, where and when did I write the lyrics? No idea. How long have I had this song for? No idea. Like many of my songs it’s a coded complaint about lack. In which I am the Devil. That feels like an alien. An outsider tortured by desire and lack. But I am no longer interested in what I lack. I’m making a concerted effort to reframe the way I look at my own life so that I take pleasure and pride in who I am and what I do have and what I have accomplished, and by so doing realize how fortunate that I am, and thereby be filled with gratitude and eventually true peace and happiness. But I guess this song is also about like the cartoon movie WALL-E. The consequences of hedonism. We’re facing the real possibility of the worldwide collapse of human civilization and the end of life as we know it. Let, ‘Feast of Flesh’ join the worldwide chorus of those begging for action. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your children. Children, you’ve got to do it yourselves. All you fucking Devils! Shoving everything in your mouth.”
In the time since the beloved Brooklyn trio released their last album in 2015, REJOICE! GOD LOVES WILD YAKS, Bryn has been spending a lot of time out on the water. He also formed a new band with Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio called Ice Balloons, who released their excellently quirky debut album last year, Fiesta.
1. “What Does My Love?”
2. “Great Admirer”
5. “Strawberry Wolf”
6. “Feast Of Flesh”
7. “Pharaoh Song”
9. “Do You Believe?”
10. “Fuck From Beyond The Grave”