Written by Jordan Reisman
Photo courtesy of Cayucas.
Cayucas is a band that makes their statehood allegiance to the blissful shores of California so obvious that they end up making waves in the national circuit because of it – and fast. After having gotten together as a band a mere seven months ago in October, the quintet based in Santa Monica will be releasing their debut record entitled Bigfoot on Secretly Canadian records on April 30th.
BTR had a chance to speak with the mastermind behind Cayucas, Zach Yudin. The name (pronounced “ky-yook-us”) has serious significance to him, to the point where it helps inform the rest of the band’s aesthetic.
“Cayucos is a town north of San Luis Obispo about 30 minutes. It’s a very nostalgic surf town, that hasn’t changed in 50 years. I went there in college and it’s a special place and is fun to say.”
The real town is named Cayucos, while the band is spelled Cayucas. Yudin made an error while naming them, because what kid at a Wavves show knows where the hell San Luis Obispo is? Besides, both are fun to say and Yudin makes a point to include the name as the sing along chorus in the first song on the album.
While he says that the surf town hasn’t changed in the last 50 years, the genre of surf rock certainly has. The reason behind this is that there’s just still something about the beach and oceanside life; the way in which the shoreside and all its splendor goes on forever strikes a chord with a lot of young musicians, and certainly Yudin himself.
“I live a life of being able to walk to the beach. I went to college and I was close to the beach so I’ve always been pretty close to the coast. I think, like, maybe the fact that I listen to the Beach Boys a lot and I like that sound, it’s kind of like it was very easy for me to start writing surf songs. Songs that are not necessarily surf songs or about the beach but kind of influenced by that.”
Another unabashed influence of theirs is the power of nostalgia. But not by way of Buzzfeed (“Hey guys, remember the 90’s?!”), but more in the way of the timeless bumbling naivety of adolescence.
One of the singles from Bigfoot is a teenage narrative entitled “High School Lover.” Now, if you judge the song solely by the title it sounds like the classic high school heartbreak story. However, the story that was the real influence behind it was much more strange and quirky.
“High School Lover” is about an experience that Yudin had in his junior high days. He and a fellow female classmate bonded over their mutual love of Hanson, dubbing themselves the Hanson fan club. The girl started to send Zach letters over the summer, and ended each one with “Call me at this number.” Being the budding rock star he was, he never rang her up. When school rolled around, she asked if he received the letters to which he responded, “No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And that was it.
While the story doesn’t exemplify the heartbreak that is so common to a lot of high school pop songs, Yudin says that he likes to tell stories that don’t involve a football game or prom.
“I think if it was the typical experience then I probably wouldn’t be a songwriter, I’d be selling real estate or something.”
The rest of the record flows with a, dare we say, oceanic consistency? Reverb is prevalent on the vocals, and the engineer also opted to layer Zach’s voice three times. The band also uses auxiliary percussion the way it was supposed to be used: to give the rhythm section more body. It’s a record that really does the “little things” well — Most notable are the vocal supplements such as “Ey!” or “Oh-way-oh.” Check out “Cayucos” and “East Coast Girl” for those pieces of ear candy.
Not just the So Cal beach bums have noticed Cayucas though; the higher-ups at Michael Kors have included the track “Cayucos” in one of their new shoe ad campaigns. The song fits in the video brilliantly, as it shows a young “California girl” putting on her gold Michael Kors sneakers and driving in a vintage car with a male suitor to a sleepy beach town.
Zach Yudin also let BTR in on a little secret that two of their songs are also featured in a Sundance film with Olivia Wilde called Drinking Buddies. He indulges us with a spoiler that ensures success; Wilde is completely naked during one of the scenes of the film.
“People are gonna watch it just to see that,” chuckles Yudin.
Juvenile? Sure, but it beats the prom. Here’s to prolonging youth!
You can pre-order Bigfoot by clicking here.