Features Interviews The Abi Yoyos

Interviews: The Abi Yoyos

The Abi Yoyos are beginning their process of blowing up like a time bomb. Rocking the bay area many have done before, The Abi Yoyos have begun their own style of punk rock mixing folk influnces of Phil Ochs and progressive elements of King Crimson with grandparent punkness of the Dead Kennedys. This is a good thing.

ScenePointBlank: What is your name and what do you do in The Abi Yoyos?

Matt: My name is Matt Bleyle and I'm a gratefully recovering alcoholic and drug addict. I play guitar in the Abi Yoyos.

ScenePointBlank: Why the name The Abi Yoyos?

Matt: We chose the name the Abi Yoyos for a couple reasons. Our first name got old. The band was originally named Guttersnatch. It was a good name to start out with...I think... because it was a joke. I'll admit the joke got old fast but we still don't take ourselves too seriously. Anyways, the name we go under today comes from the African myth that Pete Seger adapted. It's about two magicians who are ostracized from a community and later save that community through the very magic everyone hated them for. Interpret it however you please.

ScenePointBlank: How did you get hooked up with Risk Records to release "The World Is Not My Home"?

Matt: I forget exactly how we met Will but we got to know him well when we toured with Sharp Knife. He's always been a really supportive dude and a good friend and wanted to put something out for us.

ScenePointBlank: When were the 4 songs on the 7" written?

Matt: 'Usufruct', and 'Bohemian Grove' were written really long ago. I think maybe 2002 or even late 2001. Xenophobia was written shortly after and Fuck The UN was written a couple months before the US invaded Iraq. I feel kind of stupid telling you when these songs were written because it shows you how much we have our shit together. At least they were written post-Clinton. The themes still work.

ScenePointBlank: You wrote the lyrics/music for the 7", did you have lyrics first and write some songs around the lyrics, did you write the music first then add lyrics or somewhere in between those two?

Matt: I don't really have a formula. I've written songs in all the ways you mentioned.

ScenePointBlank: What does "The World Is Not My Home" mean?

Matt: It's taken from an old gospel type song. I think the Carter Family played it a lot. It's kind of depressing. It seems like it's written by someone very unhappy with reality. He or she is waiting for the day to go 'home' to heaven and leave the 'world' behind. Woody Guthrie hated the song but I can't help but feel that way once in a while.

ScenePointBlank: Originally you were going to release the record with Macaulay Culkin's face superimposed on the painting of the screamer's face, what did this mean?

Matt: It meant I was a pretentious asshole. To me, Munch's painting is symbolic of a loss of culture and a general feeling of insanity imposed by the industrial revolution. A cut out of Macaulay Culkin's face pasted onto the Screamer couldn't be a better symbol of my feelings today living through the post-industrial revolution. I liked it because it described how I felt. Expressing yourself is hard to do today. There is a lot of cynicism and humor that gets in the way of angst. Some of us might feel a bit like Dick Shawn when he died on stage with a whole crowd of people laughing.

ScenePointBlank: What's it like coming from a county that has no real punk/underground rock scene?

Matt: Well there was one for a while. Novato-core! It was pretty tight but there aren't many shows at Ben's house anymore. I think it's kinda cool not being from SF or the East Bay. I feel like UXB that band from San Anselmo on the 'Not So Quiet on the Western Front' Comp.

ScenePointBlank: What would you say your main musical influences for "This World Is Not My Home" were?

Matt: A lot of old school hard core/punk. Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Germs, Rudimentary Peni, The Screamers and some later stuff like Born Against and The Young Pioneers. I mentioned the 'Not So Quiet...' comp. I listened to a lot of Phil Ochs, the most underrated American songwriter of all time, and the Fugs, the most underrated and influential rock group of all time.

ScenePointBlank: Since these songs were written so long ago, what are your plans for the songs you've written since then?

Matt: The new songs are different. The lyrics are still critical and I don't mean that in a bad way. They are less Jello Biafra-ie. Not that he's a bad songwriter, he's one of the best of all time. They are more open for interpretation but just as topical to me. The songs are more ambitious. They might just feel that way cause they're new.

ScenePointBlank: How did The Abi Yoyos form?

Matt: Shawn and I used to walk around Mill Valley and talk about stupid crap. Eventually the stupid crap we were talking formed into a band. We were way more ambitious back then. We were gonna be like a jug band or something but we finally gave in and played punk. We were gonna be the next Jim Kweskin.

ScenePointBlank: If you could release a split with any band currently together, what band would it be?

Matt: The Ovens, The Full Moon Partisans. Local bands that don't suck... otherwise it'd be two shitty sides.

ScenePointBlank: What do you think about humor in serious music?

Matt: I think that it belongs. I don't think we live in a time where anything should be taken completely seriously. If you want to listen to serious music with serious lyrics it should be made before 1968 or it probably sucks. Everything serious past that point needs Macaulay Culkin's face pasted over it. There are a few exceptions. I don't think that every good band needs to be a novelty act I just have trouble listening to extremely positive bands or extremely political bands.. I think its good to float in between somewhere.

ScenePointBlank: Last summer The Abi Yoyos went on a tour with Sharp Knife. Any funny stories?

Matt: It was actually two summers ago, which is sad cause it feels like only a year. It was a really good trip. We played a bunch of places up the west coast and into Canada. We played at 848 Divisadero in SF the first night and left for Portland after the show. That night Sharp Knife's van broke down in Protero Hill. We spent the night at a Chevron station waiting for the repair shop to open up.

Matt: The funniest parts for me were probably calling our faithful sidekick, Cody, a 6 foot 5 year old or sitting in the emergency waiting room for either Will or Tony. Tony for alcohol poisoning and Will for hardcore burns on his ankles after spilling apple cider on himself. Sleeping in Shannon's car was pretty fun. Drinking a jug of hard cider and then playing 4 square was pretty cool too. There's too much to mention it all.

ScenePointBlank: Recently someone stole your guitar. If you could find the culprit, and play any song for them on the guitar, what song would it be?

Matt: Probably 'Crying' by Roy Orbison.

ScenePointBlank: Are there are any current bands in your area you'd suggest people check out?

Matt: The Ovens, This is My Fist, Full Moon Partisans, Fleshies, The Icky Girlfriends, Trainwreck Riders, Veronica Lipgloss and the Evil Eyes, Lil Runt, Dirty Dirty, Love Songs, Tulsa, Huey Lewis and The News, Clover, and Quicksilver Messenger Service.

ScenePointBlank: What would your dream label be?

Matt: My own after winning the lottery.

ScenePointBlank: You guys seem to cover many genres. Have you dabbled in electronic?

Matt: No, not any electronica. I have been messing around with delay but I think people depend to much on effects these days. I like to mess with tone the good old fashioned way. whatever that is. I know Brian Eno is a genius but I'm just not that interested.

ScenePointBlank: Thoughts on 2004-2008?

Matt: I thought it was really smooth how Bush pulled troops out of Falluja in the months preceding the election and then stuck troops back in after he was re-elected. Everybody talks about how gay marriage was the deciding factor... Well maybe it was. If Bush didn't pull such a stealth move I think Falluja would have been the deciding factor. As history has proven the last four years are always the ugliest of the eight. Public opinion really doesn't matter that much anymore.

ScenePointBlank: Honey I Shrunk The Kids or The Mighty Ducks? Why?

Matt: Dude, they are both good for different reasons. That is undeniable. Mighty Ducks had an excellent soundtrack and inspired me to be a better little leaguer. Honey I Shrunk The Kids showed me how much the ladies love to play footsy, which has helped me on all of my dates.

ScenePointBlank: Any last words/thoughts?

Matt: I'd just like to say that I'd like to shake the hand of the person who actually reads this whole thing.

Read Scene Point Blank's review of The World is Not My Home here.

The Abi Yoyos Myspace


Words by Zed on Oct. 16, 2010, 11:05 a.m.

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Posted by Zed on Oct. 16, 2010, 11:05 a.m.

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