INTERVIEW: Yes Grasshopper | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Part of the suborder Caelifera, grasshoppers descend from an ancient lineage of insects dating back some 250 million years, long pre-dating the dinosaurs. Far from the primitive leftovers of popular myth, today’s critters are in fact complex contemporary creatures, equipped with a range of ingenious adaptations and behavioural patterns which see them thrive on every continent except Antarctica.

Yes Grasshopper’s family tree mightn’t extend quite so far back, yet much like their animal kingdom namesakes this Newcastle duo are a highly evolved entity built from simple yet enduring fundamentals – be it the time-honoured guitar-and-drum set-up, or the trappings of the noise rock genre they ostensibly inhabit.

Certainly, few North East acts can match the pace, intensity and whiplash-inducing pivots Jordie Cookie and Adam Stapleford conjure in full flow – although as the former recalls, their hyperactive din initially spawned from a desire to pare things back. “We formed Yes Grasshopper as an antidote to being in a seven-piece double-drumming psych band [Ponyland]!” He reveals. “We thought ‘Let’s make a band where we only need to make one phone call to organise a rehearsal, and only two phone calls to book a gig!’”

These origins shouldn’t be mistaken for narrowed ambition – nor should Jordie’s assertion they’re merely “two cavemen with a lot of gadgets.” Rather, the sound they’ve harnessed is a blistering bombardment splattered with technicolour; Jordie’s jet-fuel coated riffs and unintelligibly distorted vocal underpinned by the vibrant kineticism of Adam’s percussion.

“Adam used to play in a free-jazz punk trio called Taupe, so he brings his jazz drumming chops to the table. He never plays the same thing twice – and even if it’s the same groove, he’ll play it on different parts of the kit,” Jordie enthuses. “I set off trying to make the guitar sound like multiple instruments by splitting the signal into a few amps and adding different effects and octaves to each signal. We also started adding guitar pedals to different parts of the drums, which had some devastating results… particularly on the cowbell!”

few North East acts can match the pace, intensity and whiplash-inducing pivots Jordie Cookie and Adam Stapleford conjure in full flow

Further incorporating dashes of grindcore, powerviolence and even techno, these experiments coalesce explosively on debut album Ghost Dog Pagoda – nine slices of volatile, frenzied sonic bedlam, resolutely refusing to take themselves seriously yet admirably bottling the firebrand rancour of the duo’s live shows.

“I think we only played one gig before COVID hit, but luckily there was someone in the crowd [Jonas Halsall, Inverted Grim-Mill Recordings] who wanted to release our record, so that kept us busy over the following weird years. The recording itself didn’t take long at all – but the mixing did. I ended up mixing the first part myself, then passing it to Ben Jones to work his wizardry on. He made it sound infinitely better!”

When imagining grasshoppers, our minds often focus on stridulation – the shrill chirping we hear as rows of pegs on their hind legs are rubbed against their forewings. The buzzsaw sounds of Ghost Dog Pagoda, however, evoke very a different stage in the insect’s existence – namely the infamous swarming phase, where we instead refer to them as locusts. Transcending noise rock with their (wryly dubbed) brand of “hardcore-acid-math-crustcore,” Yes Grasshopper’s mutated palette should ensure they’ve plenty of transitions left within their own lifespan.

Yes Grasshopper’s debut album Ghost Dog Pagoda is released on 1
st December via Inverted Grim-Mill Recordings.

 

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