Y’ALL, the band that was born from the ashes of local favorite the Invisible Hand, dispersed and scattered last year when songwriter Adam Wolcott Smith moved west to Seattle and guitarist/sound landscape artist Christian Smith moved north to New York City. Y’ALL’s other half, Adam Brock and Jon Bray, are still making music and mischief here in Cville.
But like the phoenix it’s always been, Y’ALL has risen once again.
Charlottesville’s favorite glam rock psych pop band will reunite for one night only, on April 16, to open for Ex Hex (featuring fellow Cville ex-pat Betsy Wright) at The Southern.
We caught up with the four members of Y’ALL to get them (and you) psyched up for next week’s show. What can you expect? A lot of personality and excellent tunes from four dudes who love music and one another.
Tell us your names, your instrument and what you bring to the band.
Adam Brock: Adam Brock here! And yo! Cool. I play the drums. I think I bring to the band my deep fears and anxieties. I don’t like to face existential crises alone and my wife is already drowning in my issues, so I try to unload on these dudes as much as possible.
Jon Bray: Hi! I’m Jon Bray. I play bass, and I don’t really bring anything to the band, because I borrow all of my gear, including said bass. Sometimes I bring beer.
Adam Wolcott Smith: Adam Wolcott Smith! Guitar. I write songs.
Christian Smith: I’m Christian, I play guitar and contribute parts and textures. As a musician, I’m really happy to “color inside the lines” that a character like Adam Smith draws. I strive for a place of collaboration, one of pure privilege where everyone is stepping in and stepping out, giving and taking, feeling things through collectively. With Y’ALL, I tried to bring a presence that, just by virtue of the situation, was going to be fresh, as these other guys have a long established rapport and dynamic. Basically, I wanted to overturn that, using a lot of positivity.
Where is everyone living now, and what are you up to there?
Brock: I’m still in Cville, but some future moves are being strongly considered—no spoiler alerts though….I’m currently playing with my other bands. I sing and write for Borrowed Beams of Light and I play drums in Weird Mob. I am also halfway through a master’s in teaching degree at U.Va.
Bray: I’m also still in the ’Ville, where I work at a couple of restaurants, live the newlywed life, and take care of my ridiculous dog. I have ambitions to make some hot sauce this year, and compose some pretty stuff with a buddy of mine out in this hippy compound.
A. Smith: I live in Seattle, and I’m currently the editor of the Seattle Deli Magazine, an online publication that covers new bands from Seattle. I play in another band with my girlfriend, Monika, called Zen Mother. I’m also part-timing at a studio called London Bridge, a studio that has recorded the likes of Pearl Jam, Blind Melon and Soundgarden, as well as some other names that I won’t mention because it wouldn’t be as cool. Since moving to Seattle, I’ve also been really into staring off into the distance and spacing out.
C. Smith: I’m writing to you from the campus of Goddard College in Vermont, where I attend a low residency BFA program, studying hybrid forms of writing and, to make a lot of info short, theory (critical, race, queer), embodiment issues, creative critical writing, and poetry. Since moving from Cville, I live in NYC, work at the Strand bookstore… yeah. It’s new and overwhelming and I’m so lucky, but would feel luckier if grits were more widely available.
What is the story of Y’ALL?
A. Smith: Y’ALL was birthed from the ashes of Invisible Hand. It was originally supposed to be the continuation of the Hand and our first show was actually billed as Invisible Hand, but we weren’t so comfortable with continuing under that name because the music had moved in a different direction. Also, we never bothered re-learning old Hand songs as the new formation. So Y’ALL was a way to distance us from the Hand and prevent people from requesting Hand songs that we didn’t know.
C. Smith: I had been a member of Naked Gods, was a member of Naked Gods, but had left North Carolina and moved to Richmond. Naked Gods and the Hand have a lot of history, and one day Adam [Smith] called me and asked if I wanted to play guitar in the new project. Invisible Hand was my favorite band, and I always (not so secretly) wanted to be in it, so for me, Y’ALL happened because it was the only thing that possibly could have at that moment.
Why reunite Y’ALL for one gig? The music? Coincidence? Unfinished business?
Bray: I guess the answer to that is, really, “why not?” Adam Smith was gonna be in town for other reasons, so all we had to do was guilt Christian into coming down from New York for a couple of days.
A. Smith: These songs need to be heard!
C. Smith: I’m not sentimental when it comes to projects. If something is over for me (and I have a hard time with endings), it is probably for a good reason. If I didn’t feel that the music was great, and that it hasn’t run its course as feeling timely, moving, honest, relevant (even if just to our lives), and like a constant challenge to interpret and reinterpret, I wouldn’t care. But it’s all that, so I care. Plus, I feel like a totally different human being now, in terms of a lot of really intimate life/lifestyle changes, and I’m curious to know what it’ll feel like to play these songs, with these friends, from where I stand currently. There’s something they still have to teach me….
You guys live pretty far apart– how are you prepping and rehearsing for the show?
Bray: We’re not. The plan is to play our album really loud from an iPod and just invite audience members to come on stage to do trust falls.
How did the opportunity to open for Ex Hex arise? Had you already planned on reuniting?
A. Smith: I just kinda asked. We hadn’t really planned on reuniting. I was on my way back to Virginia to play with Lena Fayre, an artist I played with over the summer, and the Ex Hex date coincidentally aligned, and since Ex Hex are friends of ours it wasn’t too much of a leap to make it happen. A few emails later we were on it, not even thinking about how exactly we were gonna pull it off.
What has been your most memorable Y’ALL gig to date?
Brock: Probably playing to a capacity crowd at King’s Barcade during the Hopscotch Festival last year. But as far as our most memorable moment goes…let’s just say Olive Garden and leave it at that.
A. Smith: Also, the one where we opened for Forkbag.
C. Smith: Those things were definitely memorable, but my favorite Y’ALL gig was probably one of our worst sounding ones, at that old church on the UVA campus [the chapel]. We really hadn’t played those songs loudly before our community prior to that night, and while I heard from all accounts except my own that the sound just kind of disappeared into the air, I felt like we were rocking the shit outta those tunes and it was awesome. Whatever.
What kind of music can the audience expect to hear from Y’ALL?
Bray: Some of it sounds like background music that you could cook brunch to with a loved one. Then some of it sounds like the music they play at those Evangelical Hell Houses to scare kids into loving Christ.
A. Smith: We sound like the 60s AND the 70s.
C. Smith: Probably like a mixture of four people who know each other as musicians and friends and can intuit one another’s moves relatively well, and like four people who haven’t seen or played together in half a year and have been practicing in bedrooms along to cassette tapes. So, [it’ll sound like] awesome shit, which is probably what we always sounded like.
What’s your favorite Y’ALL song?
Brock: Mine is probably “The Have-Nots,” the next-to-last track on the album. It just feels like one of those “soundtrack to a life” moments for me…I feel a lot of triumph and energy while playing that song. Plus I get to do a real “slam dunk from the 3 point line” kind of drum fill…some real Air Jordan kind of shit….
A. Smith: The one we haven’t written yet.
C. Smith: Mine is “Sweet Action,” not because it is necessarily the best, definitely in terms of translating it live, but because it marked a real coalescence for us in terms of finding our identity as a new group. I was so excited by some of the sounds we were getting, just tinkering about with that one, and it coincided with a really great day in my life. It means a lot, encapsulates the time for me, and I fucking love it and feel pretty embarrassed by how nostalgic I’m being.