How can a band be introspective and yet so un-self-aware? How can that band come out on top in the "Is it punk?" argument? How does the band eliminate the line between fan and band? Easily, if that band is full of Total Yuppies.
Total Yuppies is more or less a punk outfit that came to be in October 2015. And where the punk label may apply to the band's vociferous and frenetic stage show, Total Yuppies tries and succeeds to scramble thoughtful lyrics with humor and sincerity.
The band — Jake Walsh on guitar, vocals; Ben Burdett, guitar; JT Fitzgerald, bass; and Dylan Vaisey, drums (who had a prior engagement and couldn't make the interview) — has just released its second EP, "Care," and stopped by the CITY offices to discuss it along with irony, self-hating, and just being nice, tame boys. An edited transcript of the conversation follows.
CITY: What makes Total Yuppies unique in the Rochester music scene?
Jake Walsh: That's a very good question.
Walsh: One thing that comes to me: I feel like we're punk without being punk. We're into hardcore music and punk music and kind of what the punk ethos is about without being wildly aggressive. And we're also trying to make something that's very genuine and emotional that connects with people.
So you give a shit?
Walsh: Yeah, I do. I think we all do. I think we can be flippant because we care so much. Like our new EP is called "Care" because it's a conscious choice to give a shit about things other people may kind of brush off or look the other way on. And I think we're pretty in touch with our emotions and don't want to be rock 'n' roll Neanderthals.
You come off somewhat ironic.
Walsh: Yeah, and there are some clichés we wear on purpose and hope the irony comes out as a playful irony, not a "fuck you" irony, not a cynical irony. I'd like to think we're pretty nice, tame boys, but we also like to play loud, and I yell a lot onstage and move around. There's a lot of punk and raw energy in it because it's a release; it's super-cathartic for us. And at the same time we're actively trying to not make anyone feel uncomfortable or hurt people. We're not a very in-your-face band.
How do Total Yuppies write?
Ben Burdett: Jake sort of works out the main structures and sends out a demo that we all use to get a feel for the song.
JT Fitzgerald: It's pretty loose. Once we get in the practice room, everything's open to change.
When you were coming up with a name for the band, what were some of the other options besides Total Yuppies?
Walsh: This was the only one. The band name existed long before the band did. I was getting a haircut one day when I was living over on Oxford Street in the Park Avenue area, and this salty old woman was cutting my hair. She was a very proud racist and didn't like a lot of stuff. When she found out where I lived she said, "Aw, that's just a bunch of fucking yuppies over there." And I was like, "That's what I'm gonna name a band when I get one."
What do you prefer to play: house concerts or clubs?
Fitzgerald: House parties are more fun but way more exhausting. We just played a house party in Syracuse to like 250 kids and it was a drain. They were screaming at us for an encore and we were only the second band. It was just awesome.
It sort of blurs the line between band and fan.
Walsh: We get who likes us. It's like an agreement. It's always said, "There's no stage at a house show," so it's much more of a communal experience and that's super-true for us.
What's something fans may get wrong about you?
Walsh: I think we get put on a lot of emo bills because our songs are about emotional stuff, dealing with anxiety — and it's an OK fit sometimes. I think we fit better on a punk show as a loud and fast band.
Burdett: We've also been called slacker rock a few times, which I don't really love.
What constitutes a good Total Yuppies show?
Walsh: I tend to be pretty self-hating, so I immediately judge the show based on how I feel I played. But if there are people moving around, that's fun. We always have fun playing shows.
Fitzgerald: Even if we fuck up a few notes, the energy is still there.
Who will play each of you in the Total Yuppies made for TV movie?
Walsh: I've been told I'm very similar to Jesse Eisenberg. Ben would be played by Tom Cruise; JT would be played by Keanu Reeves; and Dylan would play himself... or Matt LeBlanc.