Content Writer for JamFeed
Artist Spotlight: Yohannes
Before anyone asks, let me answer the universal question for you: Who is Yohannes?
Yohannes is a local Boston indie rock (but like, the cool kind, you know?) band making their name known around the city.
Currently, Yohannes [pronounced Yo-han-us] is in hibernation; but I was lucky enough to get them out of their slumber for a JamFeed exclusive interview.
Bandmates Keenan Hye (vocals), Alex Vipond (guitar), Eli Brown (bass), and Zach Bachiri (drums) are currently on a break from gigging in order to put all efforts into their next album. After a successful first EP, the group is working on a full-length record – and we can only expect good things.
Despite the distance between Austin and Boston, I was able to catch a phone call with Keenan and Eli to talk about Yohannes’ music and what to expect next from the band. The two were just as witty in conversation as they are on their social media accounts.
Though we know it’s all about the music, we appreciate the humor. Read below to share our laughs and learn more about Yohannes.
How did you all meet?
Eli Brown: We met at school. We’re all seniors at Northeastern University.
Keenan Hye: Alex and I were roommates freshman year. We played around with some acoustic stuff and did some singing. We wrote a couple songs and then decided that we wanted to get a band together. We put up a poster in a Facebook group and Zach responded so we started jamming with him. We went through a couple of bass players before we found Eli.
How did you find Eli?
EB: I put my recordings online – on that hilarious, awkward, entering-class Facebook page. But I didn’t have my bass at the time. All I had was my ukulele.
KH: Eli showed up to our first practice with a notebook and a ukulele. He was trying to figure out bass notes on a ukulele.
Is there a big band scene on the Northeastern campus?
EB: Yeah, there’s a pretty big scene. We have a lot of friends in other bands.
KH: For a school that’s not considered a music school, yeah.
EB: The whole Boston area is a pretty big music scene.
Where’s your presence within the city’s music scene?
KH: We’ve played at most of the main venues around and we’ve also played at a bunch of parties. Parties are fun because everyone’s close and nobody has to pay. It’s just having fun with music.
EB: Yeah, parties are fun. All of our friends are there and it’s a guaranteed good time.
Do you have a worst performance experience?
EB: Oh man… there hasn’t been any train-wrecks.
KH: One time our drummer ate a weed brownie at a charity event.
EB: That was funny.
Have you seen a loyal following from fans?
EB: The consistent fans we see are our friends. And friends of friends of friends.
KH: Usually there are more people in the group, but our friends are the energy.
EB: We have some online super-fans who we’ve never met in person.
Speaking of online, Yohannes’ social media accounts are hilarious.
KH: It’s tough right now because we’re not playing shows, so we don’t have much to tweet about. We do a lot of pictures. We keep it entertaining.
You made a video called “The Mailing List Song,” where you sang the names of everybody on your mailing list.
KH: And we have another one coming out for the next batch of people!
How do you describe Yohannes’ sound?
KH: We try to write stuff that’s us.
EB: It doesn’t come from outside places. We’re not trying to sound like anyone else.
KH: One of our friends wrote a description for us, and I hate to reference another band, but he said that Yohannes is “if Spoon smoked happier weed.” I thought that was pretty good.
Who writes the lyrics?
KH: We go around in a circle and each of us says a word.
KH: Ha, no. I write a lot of the lyrics, but it’s pretty democratic. Everyone has input. Alex just wrote an entire song for this next album.
Where do you get inspiration for your lyrics?
KH: A lot comes from problems with people in society and problems that are tough to fix. But it’s not always that serious. In this new album, a lot of lyrics are about people who are hard to understand.
Can you talk about this upcoming album?
EB: We are recording an album. We’ve been taking a long break from gigging.
KH: We’re hibernating and re-styling how we sound. Right now, we have six or seven songs written, but we want to have a full-length album by the end of the year. And then next year, we plan on gigging all the time. Everywhere.
Do you have plans to play outside of Boston, post-hibernation?
KH: We’re getting Bonnaroo, Coachella… what else?
EB: Yes, we definitely do. We’re all graduating in May so we’re planning to play a lot of shows that summer and potentially tour that year.
KH: It’s all something we really want to do.
If you could play a show in any place, where would it be?
KH: Definitely not a big arena. Not a Madison Square Garden.
EB: Yeah, I agree. It’d be really cool to play in front of the place we live in right now – Aerosmith style. They played in front of their old apartment in Boston, where they recorded their first album.
What does ‘Yohannes’ mean?
EB: We all live together in a building that’s really crappy and totally falling apart. We have a building manager who tries really hard.
KH: He’s just a character and his name is Yohannes, so it worked. We hope five or ten years from now, when we hit it big, he’ll hear us on the radio and be like, “Woah. That’s my name!”
So he has no idea?
EB: Oh, no. None.
Okay, so you tell us… who is Yohannes?
KH: Boy band.
EB: Justin Bieber x 4.
KH: Just kidding. That’s something we’re trying to put together right now. We’re finding ourselves while we hibernate. “If Spoon smoked happier weed”can work for now… but we don’t do drugs. We’ll get back to you in the next interview.