Words with Alex Schaaf from Yellow Ostrich, Tonight at The Croc

Like a lot of Seattleites (and likely, many music fans regardless of geography), we first heard about Yellow Ostrich after KEXP chose “Whale” as a song of the day last December. We were instantly intrigued by the band’s straight-ahead approach to pop, that uses simplicity, fun and experimental vocal harmonies as its foundation. After going back and listening to the band’s in-studio with John Richards from the previous month, we knew we’d have to see them live.

If you too were intrigued by what you heard, you’re in luck as the band will be playing The Crocodile tonight with Say Hi. We were lucky enough to catch up with lead Ostrich Alex Schaaf about influences, songwriting and much more. Continue on to read our exchange, watch the video and head to Belltown this evening for the live experience.

What artists have been the most prominent in your musical development?

The last few months I’ve been listening to a lot of Neil Young, Bob Dylan, stuff like that. Really looking at songwriting and lyrics/chords/etc. a lot more recently rather than just sound-based writing which i’ve done in the past.

How do you approach songwriting? Do you have a standard process or does songs come together in a variety of ways?

They usually start with a random phrase or melody that just pops into my head, and then i try and form a song out of whatever I’m given that way. It’s never the same from song to song but as long as they keep coming I’ll try and make them into something.

From what sources in your life do you get the most lyrical inspiration?

I like writing about small, mundane things, or at least what you can accomplish when given a small, mundane situation. I like imagination, and the power that it can have over your normal life.

How did you and [drummer] Michael [Tapper] first start playing together?

I was still in college about a year ago when he came to my school with Bishop Allen, and I opened for them as Yellow Ostrich, and we kept in touch since then. A couple of months ago we added Jon Natchez on bass and horns.

How did you decide on the band’s name?

I had a friend who owned an ostrich farm and I would go there a lot, and I was just always struck by the ostriches. One of them had one random patch of yellow on its back and I liked the phrase so I kept it.

If you lived in an alternate reality where you forced to play the catalogue of another musician/band for an entire year, which musicians/band’s works would you play?

Definitely the Beatles, they have a wide enough range of songs where I wouldn’t get bored playing them.

Anything that you’re looking to do with your time in Seattle this round?

This is my first time in Seattle so I’m looking forward to just seeing the whole city.

What’s next for the band in 2011?

We’re going to be touring a bit, and then hopefully recording our new album sometime soon.

3/30 Say Hi/Yellow Ostrich/Blair @ The Crocodile :: Doors at 8:00 PM :: Tickets are $12 :: 21+

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