The first question in an interview is often the most obvious, and frequently the most revealing. So tonight's interview with Simon Fazio and Bronwyn Liroudia-Rands, two-thirds of local garage band YIS begins with the obvious inquiry: where does the band's name come from? Judging by the reaction, it's a question that's come up plenty of times previously. Fazio's initial response refers to truncated New Zealand vowels in Flight Of The Conchords , supplemented by a few alternative acronym-based explanations (one of which apparently translates to 'enlightened vagina'). But it's Liroudia-Rands' observation that provokes the best reaction. "My dad said 'that Rick Wakeman prick is going to sue you!'," she laughs.
Thankfully the prog-happy Mr Wakeman hasn't so far issued any legal writs, leaving YIS to its merry evolution. Fazio (guitar, vocals, and the band's principal song-writer) formed YIS with his girlfriend (and 'non-blood relative') Liroudia-Rands and younger brother Andre Fazio on drums a couple of years ago. The brothers Fazio had played in a number of short-lived local bands; notwithstanding a lack of band history, Liroudia-Rands was commissioned to play bass in the fledgling three-piece outfit. "It was a case of me being handed the bass and told 'here, play!'" she laughs. "We jammed on some Dead Moon, and it sounded pretty good, and then we ended up being offered a show, then we had a big enough set for a show and it blossomed from there," Fazio explains.
Despite the occasional bout of fraternal friction ("I'm the mediator," quips Liroudia-Rands), the YIS dynamic, sound and set evolved to see the band playing regularly around Melbourne (the Fazio brothers have also been enlisted recently to provide the rhythm section for Kamikaze Trio and Digger & The Pussycats guitarist Sam Agostino's new band, Brat Farrar). YIS remains, however, Fazio the elder's band. "YIS is very much Simon's band," comments Liroudia-Rands. "The last band I played in had about five different opinions, and it didn't really work that well," Fazio nods. "I think this time around the dynamic is better. You can trust the other members of the band, because they're people you care about."
Last year YIS teamed up with former Rocket Science guitarist Paul Maybury to record YIS's debut album, Kingdom Of Fuzz, at Maybury's A Secret Location studio in Fairfield. "We went to the Big Day Out years ago, and Rocket Science were the first band on the bill that we both really liked, so it was great to be able to work with Paul," Fazio relates.
There are a few tracks on Kingdom Of Fuzz worth particular attention, including Trevor Block Rocking Beats, a song inspired by events at the 2009 Flipout! festival in Sydney. "When we were at Flipout! I wrote Trevor Block Rocking Beats on a bit of paper and stuck it on the ATM, and then later on when we got back [home] I wrote that song," Fazio laughs.
And then there's the opening track, Message, a thundering garage track somewhere between X and The Stooges. "Some people have said that there's no actual message mentioned in the song, but there is, if you count the screaming part," Fazio grins. In contrast, there's the new wave-esque I Feel Repulsed, which, according to Fazio is actually a love song. "I sent it to Bronwyn when she was in Sydney, and she said 'that's disgusting', and I said 'no, it's actually a love song!'" Fazio smiles. "I'm not good at word play!" he laughs.
Fazio's approach to distributing Kingdom Of Fuzz has been decidedly laissez-faire. The record is available for download from the band's website, and the retail version is priced well below the standard album cost. As for career aspirations, it's all about the music, and a healthy dose of fun. "I know that what we've recorded is pretty good, so I guess our aspiration is continue to make better albums," Fazio says. "I like to play shows to people, and for people to like what they're hearing," he nods.
YIS launch Kingdom Of Fuzz with Ouch My Face, Telecom and Trjaeu at The Tote this Saturday February 26.