High energy pop band, Yam Haus, has been branching out from their home state of Minnesota and touring across the nation. The band includes Lars Pruitt (vocals), Zach Beinlich (guitar), Jake Felstow (drums), and touring bassist Isaac Levy. Yam Haus’ music is meant to feel electric – there’s a natural groove in their songs that easily translates to the body. It’s the soundtrack to the coming-of-age movie that is your life. Yam Haus released their latest EP, Stupid and Famous, on October 6th. With their diverse catalog of new and old discography, Yam Haus have been venturing out on their “Stupid and Famous” tour around the nation and making countless fans shake their hips along the way.
We caught up with Yam Haus before their show at Brooklyn Made, where they answered a few questions for the groovement.
Before Yam Haus, Lars and Zach played in another band called Among Elephants. After that band ended, when and how did Yam Haus start?
Lars: Oh my god, is this like Nardwaur right now? Honestly this is just another extension of Among Elephants. Among Elephants was just me, Zach, and a few other friends from high school. I just kept trying to make a band happen, and by the time we were in college, we met Jake, and we formed Yam Haus.
Zach: I was about to be like, I don’t think that’s us. And then you pulled out Among Elephants. I was in a full Nardwuar moment, I was like, ‘how do you know that?’
‘Yam’ stands for You Are Me. But what is the origin of the full name?
Lars: The ‘haus’ is because we lived together, and we were also looking for a name for a year, and it was the only name we had of like 30 options that legally did not have any trademark issues. I like to inspiringly say, it’s the name we hate the least. And it found us, and I love it.
Why did you choose to spell ‘haus’ that way?
Lars: That’s just because we’re being cute. I liked the symmetry of the two a’s.
You had a different lead guitarist before, and Zach had been on bass. After the lead guitarists left, why did Zach choose to switch to guitar instead of staying on bass?
Jake: That’s a great question.
Zach: Lars and I had a conversation, you just brought it up to me mostly, because there’s so many lead lines in our songs, and the electric guitar has more of a presence. And we didn’t want to be hiring a person to come in. We kind of wanted that person to be in the band.
Lars: It’s a tone problem, because there’s more complicated tones. It’s not that the bass isn’t as important, because it really is. It’s a huge part of our sound. The guitar has more, six tones per song, and to hire someone to do that is a lot more work to make sure they have the right pedals. Where the bass player can have two, three tones and kind of rock it. It was really just a logistics thing, and thankfully Zach was just down to clown and learned how to play guitar.
I was going to ask if you played guitar at all before?
Zach: I had a little experience just with random chords and covering some songs.
Lars: Zach was that guy in the dorm room going around playing the acoustic guitar, trying to jam.
Jake: Serenading all the college students.
Zach: I had a little bit, but it was a lot of work. I was like, ‘it won’t be that hard,’ and it was.
Jake: You wrote “Ready To Go” on guitar before switching.
Zach: Every show is a step forward.
Do you have someone touring with you on bass now?
Lars: Yes, his name is Isaac Levy, and he’s amazing.
You guys have been touring consecutively for the last few years. Can you talk about the highs and lows of being a touring musician?
Lars: Our trailer broke down on the last tour, and we literally had to abandon it in a hotel parking lot and get a Uhaul, that sucked. Shout out to that Hampton Inn. And shout out to the Goodwill in Voorhees, New Jersey who adopted our trailer because it was so broken.
Zach: I’m a big routine guy. When I’m home, I love my routine. And there’s no such thing as a routine on the road. So you do six or seven weeks of chaos. So that’s hard for me to get into the swing of getting on tour. Usually by week five I’m good, and then I go home two weeks later. That’s the toughest part for me.
Jake: I think being away from family is the toughest thing. Just having your daily routine of being with your wife, spouse, kid, whatever it is, that’s the toughest thing. It’s fun to see people that you don’t know that well on the road and people you meet along the way. Just that everyday thing is challenging. Facetime is great, but it’s not the same.
Your new EP, Stupid and Famous has been a work in progress for years. You’ve been playing the songs on that album over your last few tours. Can you talk about the creative process of this album? Was it individual songs that were put together, or looked at more as one project?
Lars: It was a little bit of both. It was a smorgasbord of where they came from. Cabin trip here, my basement on a random day there. We were just sort of in a phase where we knew we wanted to put something out, and kind of scanned what we already had cooking, and then also did a writing trip that certainly inspired a couple tunes on the EP, specifically “So Long,” and “Can’t See Anything.” “Little Contradictions,” “Stupid and Famous,” “Shakin’ Yer Hips,” were like me in my basement bringing it to the band.
Zach: “Rafters” was also a cabin trip, but another time.
Jake: “Sandcastle” was also a collaborative one.
Lars: So that was kind of the place we were at, finally got to a place with this label to put something out that was proper, and we kind of just dug into the bag. We’re always writing, which is a blessing and a curse because it makes the creative process a little convoluted, because you’re always trying to beat your last idea. So we try to stay on that. It’s a snapshot of where we were at in the last year and a half I’d say.
“Rafters” is the most popular so far on the EP, and second is “Sandcastle.” When writing the album, what was the song that you thought was going to be the most popular, and are you surprised by any of the outcomes?
Lars: That’s a great question. I’ve gotten to a place where every single time we write a song, I try not to even think that way, because I think in some way, all the songs are like your children, and to have a song that you like more than another that you hope does better, and if that doesn’t work out, you’re kind of bummed. And I want to like all of our songs kind of equally. There’s a magic and mystery to what ends up connecting, and I honestly try to stay away from figuring that out. I try to like our songs, that’s my rule.
Zach: “Sandcastle” we wrote because we wanted a new opening song for our set. It’s funny because “Sandcastle” became the last song we played at the end of every set. And then “So Long” I wrote because I wanted a new intro song, and it kind of worked out. It wasn’t like I hoped this one would do well.
Lars: More of a purpose.
Jake: A big shift we had with some of the cabin trips. We had “So Long” and “Can’t See Anything.” We started coming to a place of like what would this feel like to actually play it as a band live and what are these instruments going to sound like standing alone, and is it going to carry the sound? I think it transformed the way we approach music in a lot of ways.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
Lars: I want them to feel like they have permission to be their full selves and have value, and they too can make art of any kind and feel empowered and encouraged to do that and live in a way that is inspiring to them. We’re just trying to live in a way that is inspiring to us, and try to love ourselves and other people. And hopefully people leave feeling like they love themselves, and other people, and their life, and do stuff. Inspiration comes from a lot of places and we hope we can inspire people and find themselves in our songs. I don’t know, I just want people to have a good time. It’s really not that deep, unless it is.
📸: shot by Owen Labate