Oregon Bike Trails is the reason I started doing interviews again. It’d been months since I did one, but as soon as I heard these songs I knew I had to talk to the guy. So even though Zach doesn’t have a record label or any physical releases yet, I had to interview the guy.
Zach Yudin of Oregon Bike Trail :: the You Ain’t No Picasso interview
Let’s get the basics out of the way early on: can you tell us a little about yourself? Who you are and where you currently live.
I’m Zach Yudin, I am a college graduate who lives and works in Santa Monica, Ca. I like to surf, ride my bike, eat Mexican food.
Even though there must be a dozen bands out there with places in their names that have no relation to where the group is based (of Montreal, Architecture in Helsinki, etc), I was still fooled into assuming you were from Oregon. What made a California resident who writes beach-and-sun pop songs to get his band name from bike paths of the Pacific Northwest?
When I was a kid my family and I went on a summer vacation to Sun River, Oregon. My brother and I biked everywhere on these really cool intricate bike trails that went all through the town. I think those images have sort of stuck with me. When I was thinking of a band name Oregon Bike Trails sort of popped into my head, and I liked it.
Is Oregon Bike Trails your first band? How long have you been writing/recording music? Have you performed live as OBT?
I’ve been writing and recording music for about 5 years, and have had quite a few different bands/ musical projects. OBT was just another one of those projects. Officially starting on Jan. 18 2011, that was the day I posted my first song online through ‘BandCamp. I have performed live, although, I am still trying to piece together a band for future shows.
Read the rest of the interview after the break.
A few of your songs sound like they’re inspired by the sampling that Neon Indian and Animal Collective do, wherein it’s so organic to the rest of the song that you don’t even notice it wasn’t recorded by them. The way you use some of the short riffs (“Swimsuit” or the verses in “Come On Come On”) sound like how some bands are incorporating sampling. Any inspiration coming from that area of music?
Yes. The past couple years I’ve been inspired by sampling/recording techniques of these bands like Neon Indian, Panda Bear, Daft Punk.. etc.. The goal is always to make it sound seamless, and cohesive, so you have to dig a bit find the right stuff to sample.
I’ve really fallen in love with your reverb-laden backing vocals that alternate between classic and unexpected approaches. Is that part of composition the due to any vocal training or the result of hours of messing around with a microphone?
I was a music major in college, and did take vocal lessons.. I mess around with mic placement, and reverbs, with the goal of finding a good vocal setting for each song. I’m not the most tech savvy person, and I don’t like to spend a lot of time recording. I’ve found some techniques/settings that I like and have stuck with those on every track just about.
I found one mention of you putting out a cassette single of “High School Lover” in the near future, but no link to buy it (http://chillmegachill.com/artists) Any current single, 7” or other release plans?
Yes. There’s no official date, but I was told the cassette will be available sometime in the Spring. I will have another Cassette release with Crash Symbols, and I do plan on releasing an EP or full album but no date is set as of yet.
The tracks we’ve heard so far have a definite nostalgic, retro pop feel to them. Not surprising then, that I’ve seen you compared (and have compared you) to a few other contemporary groups who are doing their best to reinvent the 50s and 60s: Tennis, Vampire Weekend, Cults and even Best Coast. Do you find yourself more inspired by the creativity of present-day groups in a similar vein as you or early pop gems that get reflected in some way by you all?
Well, I listen to new bands mostly, and I want my sound to be up to date. I like how Vampire Weekend figured out a way to recreate 70’s Paul Simon, and I listen to them a lot and love it. I favor bands like The Beach Boys, the guitars, and the vintage bass sounds from the 60’s, also topics like surf, beach, girls, etc. makes more sense to me. So it’s hard to say I’m inspired by both pretty equally.
I saw you performed a radio session with Indie103.3 Did they approach you about playing on air? How’d it go? (side question: is there a recording of it anywhere?)
This was through Cameron, curator of the FMLY blog, who I had been talking to and he asked to me come hang out on his radio show. I don’t think there’s a recording of it.
Since your music has a heavy beach/summer/relaxation theme, what would you have on a “sailing around the world” mix?
Jimmy Buffett, on cassette.
What’s in the near future for Oregon Bike Trails? Any touring, releases or more songs in the works?
I will continue writing, recording, going back and re-recording. I plan on releasing an EP or full album, but there is no specific date as of yet. And I will tour, any new info. I will post to my blog and Bandcamp as well.