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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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March 4, 2024
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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

They’ve Got It

Yo La Tengo band members Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James Mcnew
Steve Gullick
Yo La Tengo band members Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James Mcnew

Yo La Tengo, formed in 1984, continues to tour and record after flying under the radar for more than a quarter of a century. Despite the Spanish name, which translates to “I’ve got it,” they are actually an alternative American band based out of Hoboken, New Jersey. Also known as YLT, the band was founded by husband and wife duo Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, but since 1991 the band has also included James McNew. With Kaplan on guitar/piano, Hubley on drums/piano, McNew on bass, and all three on vocals, YLT has turned out a total of twelve albums. Their most recent one, entitled Popular Songs, debuted in 2009. Recently, McNew was kind enough to sit and talk with the Mass Media about their tour, plans for a new record, and his favorite board game.

So I’m going to start off with the question: What is your least favorite question?

“Is there anything else you’d like to add to this interview” because my answer is usually always “no.”

How’s the tour going?

We begin [September 6]. I’m really looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be super-fun. We’re playing four shows with the National and Wye Oak, and we’re really psyched. It was really awesome of them to ask us to come.

What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you onstage?

Gosh, I try to move past that stuff. I don’t know. Electric shocks? I don’t recommend those.

What are your plans for after the tour?

After the tour, we are writing songs and hopefully going to get a bunch of them recorded before the year is out.

When do you think the new album will be released?

Hopefully soon into the next year.

How do you like Boston?

We don’t really get to see it. That’s just sort of how it goes. You go to tons of places but you usually don’t see them.

How are the fans?

They’re great. I don’t really get a chance to meet everybody. Boston’s a city we’ve been coming to for a very long time, I’m guessing, for longer than you’ve been alive. We have a lot of friends there and a lot of history, and we don’t get up there very often, so it’ll be nice to return.

So, kind of a random question, but what’s your favorite board game?

Man, it’s been a long time. I was a huge fan of Operation when I was a kid. Does that count?

Yeah, that’s a good answer. One more random question: who influenced you musically when you were younger?

I started listening to music when I was really little. Both my parents bought records and listened to them at home a lot, and I got a lot of inspiration from that. Just the fact that it wasn’t even like music was a special occasion type of thing. […] My dad listened to a lot of James Brown records and my mom listened to a lot of Beatles records. I liked hard rock when I was like a little kid, so I bought Aerosmith records and Thin Lizzy records when I was around ten years old and then graduated to Black Flag and the Ramones when I was a little older than that.

I’d ask if there’s anything else you’d like to add, but I’m not going to.

Oh no, go ahead; ask me.

All right, do you have anything else you’d like to add?

No, no, I think I’m good.

You can find Yo La Tengo on iTunes or check out their website www.yolatengo.com.