Yeah Yeah Yeahs is an American indie rock band formed in New York City in 2000. The group is composed of vocalist and pianist Karen O, guitarist and keyboardist Nick Zinner, and drummer Brian Chase. They are complemented in live performances by second guitarist David Pajo, who joined as a touring member in 2009 and replaced Imaad Wasif who had previously held this role. According to an interview that aired during the ABC network's Live from Central Park SummerStage series, the band's name was taken from modern New York City vernacular.
The band has recorded four studio albums; the first, Fever to Tell, was released in 2003. The second, Show Your Bones, was released in 2006 and was named the second best album of the year by NME. Their third studio album, It's Blitz!, was released on March 31, 2009 in the US and on April 6, 2009 elsewhere. All three albums earned the band Grammy nominations for Best Alternative Music Album. Their fourth album, Mosquito, was released on April 15, 2013.
Formation and Fever to Tell (2000–2004)
Karen O and Brian Chase first met as students at Oberlin College in Ohio in the late 1990s, where Chase was a jazz student at the conservatory. Karen then transferred to New York University, and while in New York met Zinner in a local bar, where they formed an "instant connection." During this time they also shared a loft with future members of the band Metric. The two formed an acoustic duo called Unitard but soon decided to "shake things up a bit" by forming a "trashy, punky, grimy" band modeled after the art student, avant-punk bands Karen O was exposed to at Oberlin. After the drummer they initially recruited bowed out, Chase joined the line-up.
The band wrote a slew of songs at their first rehearsal and soon wound up supporting The Strokes and The White Stripes, earning a significant buzz for their arty and garage punk scene. In late 2001, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their self-titled debut EP, which they recorded with Boss Hog's Jerry Teel, on their own Shifty label. Early the next year the band stepped into the international spotlight, appearing at South by Southwest, touring the U.S. with Girls Against Boys and Europe with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and headlining their own U.K. tour. Wichita Recordings distributed the group's EP in the U.K. and Touch and Go reissued it in the States.
In 2003, the band released their debut album, Fever to Tell, which received several strong critical reviews and sold more than 750,000 copies worldwide. The album's third single, "Maps," received significant airplay on alternative radio. In 2010, Rolling Stone ranked "Maps" as 386th in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The video for their 2004 single "Y Control" was directed by Spike Jonze. In October 2004, the band released their first DVD, Tell Me What Rockers to Swallow. The DVD included a concert filmed at The Fillmore in San Francisco, all of the band's music videos to date, and various interviews. Later the same year, the band was also featured in Scott Crary's documentary Kill Your Idols.
Show Your Bones and Is Is EP (2005–2007)
Their second album, Show Your Bones, was released on March 27–28, 2006. Karen O told online zine Drowned in Sound, "Show Your Bones is what happens when you put your finger in a light socket," crediting "9-year old antigenius wonder-kid Drake Barrett for the insight." The first single from the album, "Gold Lion", was released on March 20, 2006, reaching number 18 in the Official UK Singles Chart. It has been noted by Leah Greenblatt that "Gold Lion" sounds startlingly similar to "No New Tale To Tell" from 1980s alternative band Love and Rockets.
The band toured throughout Europe and the United States during much of 2006, and also helped to curate an edition of the British All Tomorrow's Parties festival.
In December 2006, the album was named the second best album of the year by NME magazine, and "Cheated Hearts" was voted the 10th best song. Rolling Stone magazine named it the 44th best album of 2006, while Spin magazine ranked it number 31 on their 40 best albums of 2006.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs' third EP, titled Is Is, was released on July 24, 2007. It includes 5 previously unreleased songs and a short film, which was recorded and filmed at the Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. The songs were written in 2004, during the Fever To Tell tour, and performed live often. Three of the five tracks were featured on the Tell Me What Rockers to Swallow DVD.
It's Blitz! (2008–2009)
The band's next album was released in March 2009 and titled It's Blitz!. The band says the album sounds different from their previous ones but "still [sounds] like Yeah Yeah Yeahs." It was originally set to be released April 13, but following the leak to the Internet on February 22 the band's label, Interscope, pulled the release date closer to reduce the leak's impact. The album spawned three singles: "Zero", "Heads Will Roll," and "Skeletons."
Mosquito and hiatus (2011–2016)
On December 9, 2011, Karen O reported to NME that she had been working on new music with the band, hinting a new album was possibly in the making.
On January 14, 2013, it was announced via their official Facebook page that the new album would be titled Mosquito. It was released on April 16 of the same year. The album features production by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, Nick Launay, and LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy.
As of December 2014, Yeah Yeah Yeahs are on hiatus.
Return in 2017
On June 20th, 2017 the Yeah Yeah Yeahs announced that they would be headlining the Austin "Sound on Sound" festival on November 10th adding: "Watch for more news coming soon"
Reissue of Fever To Tell
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs released a deluxe remastering of their debut album, Fever To Tell, on October 20th 2017 via Interscope / UMe. It features previously unreleased demos, B-sides, and other rarities from the era.
In a press release the band announced: "A friend of a friend kept asking if we were ever gonna put Fever to Tell out on vinyl as it hasn’t been on vinyl in 10 years. That’s not right. So here it is on vinyl for the first time in 10 years plus a time capsule of photos, demos (1st ever recorded,) a mini film documenting our near downfall and other fun memorabilia, from the turn of the century NYC, made with love + the usual blood, sweat + tears of Yeah Yeah Yeahs."
To celebrate the reissue, a small series of shows were performed: L.A.’s Fonda Theatre (October 25), Oakland's Fox Theater (October 30th) and Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre (November 7).
Touring and performances
The group performed their single "Zero" on the NBC television show Saturday Night Live on April 11, 2009.
Awards and nominations
Antville Music Video Awards
|2006||"Gold Lion"||Best Cinematography||Nominated|
|Best Performance Video||Nominated|
|"Sacrilege"||Video of the Year||Nominated|
|2004||Fever to Tell||Best Alternative Music Album||Nominated|
|2007||Show Your Bones||Nominated|
International Dance Music Awards
|2010||Themselves||Best Artist (Group)||Nominated|
|It's Blitz||Best Artist Album||Nominated|
|"Heads Will Roll"||Best Alternative/Rock Dance Track||Nominated|
MTV Video Music Awards
|2004||"Maps"||Best Art Direction||Nominated|
|2009||"Heads Will Roll"||Breakthrough Video||Nominated|
|2005||"Y Control"||Best Alternative Video||Won|
|2006||"Gold Lion"||Best Cinematography||Nominated|
|2009||"Zero"||Best Rock Video||Won|
|2003||Themselves||Philip Hall Hot New Band Award||Won|
|Karen O||Hottest Woman||Nominated|
|2010||"Zero"||Best Dancefloor Filler||Nominated|
|Themselves||Best International Band||Nominated|
|2011||Karen O||Hottest Woman||Won|
Shortlist Music Prize
|2003||Fever to Tell||Album of the Year||Nominated|
UK Music Video Awards
|2013||"Sacrilege"||Best Rock/Indie Video||Won|