Pete Yorn’s daughter, Ellie Bee, just turned 6 months old. He sings sweet songs to her that he makes up on the fly. His wife, Beth, puts her in little outfits for baby photo shoots.
Pushing a baby carriage along the oceanfront walk near their home in Santa Monica is their usual daily routine. To say Yorn’s life has changed is a mild understatement. But he wouldn't trade his new lifestyle for anything.
Now 40, Yorn reflects on how fast the last few months of his life have gone. Yet it’s hard not to also notice that five years have passed since his last solo album. A collaboration with J.D. King in The Olms kept him busy in 2013, but otherwise he's used the time away from performing to get perspective on his life and develop new solo material.
His much-anticipated new album, Arranging Time, comes out March 11, followed by a North American tour that will culminate in Yorn's first Coachella performances since 2002.
Read our interview with Yorn below, after his latest video, “Lost Weekend.”
Have you written any songs for your daughter?
There’s one called “Ellie Bee” and “Quesadilla Baby” that’s like a reggae song. It’s fun.
Does Santa Monica inspire your songs?
People say, “You're from Jersey, your sound changed since you moved out.” I feel like wherever I am, I am going to write the songs I’m gonna write. I don’t pay attention to my environment. I don’t know. It’s really more like this internal thing. People I interact with might influence things or experiences.
What are you looking forward to at Coachella this year?
You know I love it out there … I’ve been a number of times after I played just to check it out. It’s wild; when I played it, it was a festival, a cool alternative rock festival. I feel like now, it’s a rite of passage, especially for kids, all over the area. My 15-year-old niece went last year with a bunch of her girlfriends. It was trippy when I saw her there and it was like, “Oh God.” It’s an experience … a place to go, be seen and see people, and maybe catch some music, too. It’s interesting.
Favorite band you've seen at Coachella?
The first year I played, I was on tour with Weezer, we were in the Pacific Northwest, and I had to fly in, do a signing, then leave right after and saw nobody. A few years ago, I saw Shins, Radiohead; last year, Jack White, who was great. I really wanted to see Ride last year but wasn’t able to get there.
Why work with Day I Forgot producer R. Walt Vincent again?
Hadn’t seen him in a long time. As timing had it, he just moved into a loft in downtown L.A., had a studio in there, and was like, “Just come down and check it out.” So I went down there and the only thing we ever did when we hung out was record music, so we tracked something and started from there. Before we knew it, we had 30 songs we were working on.
What was the most challenging track on Arranging Time?
“Summer Was a Day,” “Halifax” and “Shopping Mall” came together quick. “I’m Not the One” was a little tricky getting the right tone on it. I did one version and it seemed just too dance-y or something. Then I kinda found the tone I wanted. That’s what it comes down to sometimes. Sometimes you get too close and you have to walk away and get some distance.
You've worked with Dave Grohl?
He played on Nightcrawler. That was 2005 [and] he played on a song [called] “For Us.” I toured with Foo Fighters and I wanted to get Dave’s feel on that one song. He came in and jammed. You’ll hear him … it’s very Dave.
How was doing the solo acoustic tour last year?
That was cool and definitely facing some fears. Back in 2005, the pressure of being alone, out there, and I think I didn’t handle it properly. I tried to medicate myself. This time, I was ready to fucking deal with it head on and it was really rewarding. Interacting with the crowd and playing whatever they wanted to hear. I had a good time and will do some more of that.
What was the first song you ever wrote?
It was called “The One.” I was obsessed with The Cure at the time, and it was very Cure-inspired. I was probably, like, 13 or 14 years old. The last time I saw them was, like, five years ago at the Hollywood Bowl. They were great. They didn’t have any keyboards, and they are such a keyboard-heavy band. Robert Smith pulled off everything on the guitar and had such strong vocals.
Pete Yorn's Arranging Time is out Friday, March 11, on Capitol Records. More info at www.peteyorn.com.