The demise of Nate Cook’s old band, local favorites Ego Vs Id, did little to derail the 25-year-old’s musical momentum.
Ego Vs Id’s first and only album, Taste, came out to generally favorable reviews last November, a product of 18 months in the studio, but, perhaps a sign of brewing portents, Cook says none of the band members were particularly happy with the record.
“It was a bad marriage. We all loved each other, but we couldn’t make it work out,” Cook says of his previous band.
EVI has finalized the divorce papers, and the band played its last show in March. Now, just six months later, Cook has a brand new project, Yawpers, that is off to a red hot start — they are already in talks with a blues and rock label in Florida that wants to record and distribute their debut EP, they just booked their first Denver show at the Larimer Lounge on Sept. 7, and they have a mini-tour of the Southwest planned for November. For Cook, the sudden-onset success is a welcome lurch forward.
“[Ego Vs Id] spun our wheels for so fucking long,” Cook says. “And it was such a big draw for [Yawpers’] first show.”
Cook must be ecstatic. For all its early success, Yawpers, a name inspired by Walt Whitman’s proclamation to “sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world,” hasn’t even reached its infancy as a band. According to Cook, the band is still “embryonic.”
Yawpers is still developing its sonic identity, but the band appears to being heading towards a more country-rock sound, as opposed to Ego Vs Id’s rock ’n’ roll tendencies.
“For me as a performer, I find I identify more with country. … What feels more honest to me is when I’m singing country,” Cook says. “It’s funny, Ego Vs Id got accused of being too country for a rock ’n’ roll crowd and too rock ’n’ roll for the country crowd.
“Yawpers is more country.
More than that, though, it’s Americana. It’s stripped down. It’s four-on-the-floor, rather than intricate arrangements.”
At the band’s first-ever show at Shug’s Low Country Cuisine this July, Yawpers was nothing more than Cook on rhythmic acoustic guitar, Adam Perry (a Boulder Weekly contributor) on drums and EVI alum Jesse Parmet on lead acoustic guitar. Despite the unconventional, bass-less lineup, the turnout was strong — no doubt thanks to the clout Cook developed during his time in EVI — and Yawpers has played Shug’s several times since.
The back room of Shug’s, a roughly 90-person concert space they’re calling The Shack, has special meaning for Cook, as his old band got its first gigs at the b.side Lounge, which shut down in December 2009. Yawpers’ first gig was at the same location, though under different ownership and disguise, and it’s also where they got their big break. At this August’s annual Adult Album Alternative conference in Boulder, where radio industry-types gather to talk about which Dave Matthews Band songs to play on stations like KBCO, Yawpers got the chance to play one of the showcases, and Cook says they were approached by several radio insiders interested in the band. Contacts they made at the showcase led to their pending record deal.
Cook feels more fulfilled playing in Yawpers than he did in Ego Vs Id. For one, he is the main songwriter and singer, where in Ego Vs Id the duties were spread more evenly. EVI’s music asked him to play guitar leads and solos, which he was never really comfortable with. In Yawpers, Parmet, a fantastic lead guitar player, handles almost all the soloing duties.
The band only has two songs available online, “Heart on a String” and “Runner.” Both are simple, uptempo, driving country-rock tunes with infectious hooks, anchored by Perry’s driving four-on-the-floor kick drum. “Heart on a String” got some airtime on KGNU and is proving to be popular, but Cook stresses that the lightly produced demo of the song is far from the final product. He likes the progress so far but is excited for things to come.
“It surprises me because it sounds like it was recorded in the top tank of a toilet,” Cook says. “It’s a good song, but I like to have a lot of quality control.”
On the Bill
Yawpers plays Shug’s Low Country Cuisine on Saturday, Sept. 3. Show starts at 10 p.m. Must be 21 to enter. A Sense of Porpoise opens. Tickets are $3. 2017 13th St., Boulder, 720-398-9036.