It's that most magical time of year again when I connect with a Log or two and get down to Christmas business. I'm talkin' Yule Logs of course! The toast of Chico California's holiday pops, the Yuletide surfin' jingle bell rockers that spin so many party poppin' twists on Christmas (and Hanukkah and New Year's Eve) that I bet Chubby Checker would happily choke on the cheer these Santa babes dish out come "the most wonderful time of the year". With the Yule Logs smack in the middle of their eighth season drummer Jake Sprecher was
naughty nice enough to take the time to respond to this year's probing interview for Amoeba Music (where fresh, hot Yule Logs recordings are available for sale and gift-giving).
I can’t speak for everyone, but I will. Spencer (Yule Logs' lead shredder) would like a deviled egg-pomegranate milkshake, Marty (Log frontman extraordinaire) would like a Line 6 alarm clock that only plays phased-out midi files of Steven Tyler’s scat solo on “Rag Doll,” and Kirt (Bass Log) would like to win a date with Tad Hamilton. Me? I just want what every boy wants: A vinyl copy of Electro-Acoustic Music by Ianis Xenakis.
With the recent release of your fourth album, Double Live, it seems apparent to me that at least one of you attended the School of Rock, which begs the question: did you graduate? If so, what was your thesis, or theses as the case may be?
Are we talking about Jack Black?
No, the "Foghat Principle", but you're right: Jack Black was the School of Rock guy.
There’s actually a real School of Rock right here in Chico for kids like 12 and under. If we are indeed talking about ol’ J. Black, I’ll just say that he peaked in Bongwater, and that it’s been a steady decline ever since.
While we're on the subject, what sort of educational/learning experience would you say you pass on to your fans?
Spencer usually does his best to educate fans by dishing the straight story on Hanukkah, though I’m not sure how seriously he’s taken due to the fact that the rest of us are godless heathens.
This being your eighth season together as "the hardest working band in snow business," one might wonder as to the secret of your staying power. How do you make it work? Is it difficult to keep the wheels greased and rolling on the Yule Logs' rockmobile?
At this point I think it would actually be more difficult to say goodbye to the proverbial rockmobile than to keep it going. Eight years is a long time for any band, and at a point you can’t picture yourself not being involved. I guess it’s like a relationship in that regard, except none of us have ever wept in the dead of night over any Yule Log-related matter. Unless of course you count the time Kirt found out he had to miss that Bieb show at HP Pavilion.
Would you say the band has changed much over the last eight years?
Well, considering that we were in our early twenties when it started up, I’d say we’ve certainly progressed as musicians. We also had lineup changes in Season 3 and Season 4, which at the time changed some of the dynamics of the band. But for the most part, we’re still a bunch of good time Charlies on the hunt for yet another wheel of cheese.
I've heard tale of your annual gig at Duffy's in Chico being the pinnacle of the Yule Log's seasonal showcase. What makes that night the "greatest night of the year" for you guys?
It’s the drunken Valhalla of all Yule Log gigs. Every bit of excess that we indulge ourselves in, or even joke about indulging in, seems possible at the Duffy’s show, whether it happens or not. And I don’t mean that in a weird way—or maybe I do? But in a nutshell, it’s this incredibly loud, wasted, packed-to-the-last-gill local time at the only rock ‘n’ roll bar in town. The whole thing is so incredibly gratifying that it’s almost hard to put into words. In fact, if I had to live one night over, and over, and over again, Groundhog Day-style, the Duffy’s show would be it, hands down.
As far as your live show goes, what are you most looking forward to this season in terms of your traditional or as-yet-unwrapped Yule Logs performance staples?
Well we strive to take it up a notch every season, with Season 8 being no exception. Spencer is going to get beard extensions that go past his crotch so he can perform nude, Kirt has hired Geddy Lee to play bass so he can focus on his steel cage interpretive dance routine, and Marty doesn’t know it yet, but I plan to shiv him with a pen and then stomp him onstage at our next all-ages show.
Do you Logs have any all-new holiday hits stuffed in your, erhm, stockings this year?
We’ve got a new one called “Ain’t Got Nothing (On Christmas Day)” that’s bound for hit status. Spencer originally brought the song in as a ballad, but we reworked it into an up-tempo groove in the vein of Otis Redding and old James Brown. We’re proud of it, and it’ll be on our next record come 2013.
When you're not working on party rockin' Christmas and Hanukkah jams, what do the Yule Logs listen to?
I took a quick poll of the boys’ latest pleasures…
Kirt: Prince Rama – Top Ten Hits of the End of the World
Marty: Fountains of Wayne – Sky Full of Holes
Spencer: The Who - The Who by Numbers
Me: Menahan Street Band – The Crossing
I love the cover of Lindsay Buckingham's "Holiday Road" that made the cut for Double Live -- are there any other not necessarily Christmas-ish song you'd consider Log jamming?
We grapple with songs like that every season…some make the cut, and some just fall flat. We tried “Mr. Postman” in rehearsal this year and it just wasn’t coming together in any sort of faux-Christmas way, whereas “Holiday Road” was just-add-water. We also did the same with “Michael and the Slipper Tree” by The Equals, which we simply changed one word to (you can probably guess which one); it’s become something of a deep-cut favorite at shows.
In my opinion you guys are probably the most criminally overlooked, sensational seasonal ensemble ever. Considering how much effort you put into keeping everyone's spirits bright, do you all feel like you've yet to un-wrap the ultimate Christmas gift, exposure-wise? What would that be?
I think everybody in the band would answer that question somewhat differently. Chico, despite being a college town, is somewhat isolated and the realities of exposure in a smaller community are what they are. But I for one will remain pleased with everything we do so long as it continues to be as much of a good time as it’s always been, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
Aside from all the time and effort that goes into fully realizing each Yule Logs season, what do you dream when you dream your perfect Christmas and/or Hanukkah dream?
I dream of a snowy cabin someplace wooded that resembles Tahoe but may or may not actually be Tahoe. Octagonal living room, sunken from the kitchen by three or four steps, with a fireplace and windows from floor to ceiling and divided only by support beams. I’m married, with children, drinking coffee on the deck in my robe while listening to Nat King Cole, pondering whether to drive the ‘69 Coupe or ‘70 El Dorado to the market for hot chocolate.
I don’t know what the other guys’ dreams are, but they can’t be as good as that.
I'd say that's legit. Thank you so much for your time Jake!
For Yule Logs tour dates go here and for a veritible avalanche of Yule Logs music videos 'n' things see below. Get ready to get Christmas'd!!!!