Cayucas are a California indie pop band, based around the collaboration between twin brothers Zach and Ben Yudin. After four years, they’ve re-emerged with Real Life, a third album full of fun, sunny tunes, perfect for the summertime. The Yudin brothers, along with their drummer Brian and bassist/keyboardist Mischa, joined me for an interview and acoustic performance, which you can listen to in the player below.
FMQB: Can you give us a little background on the band?
Zach Yudin: It started around 2011 and ’12. We were living in Santa Monica and we’d had quite a few bands, little projects up until Cayucas. This was just a new idea. It was about three or four songs, demos that I’d written and sorta produced in our apartment. Originally we were called Oregon Bike Trails. I made a Bandcamp and posted the songs online. Blogs were really popular at that time and they just seemed to spread around really quickly to where I started getting a lot of e-mails from booking agents and managers and stuff, just based off the three songs.
FMQB: And changing the name? Did you just need something catchier?
Zach: No, we wound up signing to a record label and had a song called "Cayucos." The main guy at the label suggested maybe changing the band name to that, and we actually thought it was a pretty good idea.
Ben Yudin: That was after the album was recorded. The change made sense anyway.
Zach: Yeah, we had made this sort of California album, and then we had this name Oregon Bike Trails, and it didn’t totally fit. I still like the name, but…
FMQB: Yeah, that does seem like it’d be a totally different sounding band.
Zach: Right. And this was during the time of Portlandia and stuff, and it just felt not quite right. It was one of those things where the label wanted to do something and we agreed with them!
FMQB: So fast forward to now, after a healthy break, you’re back with your third album. Tell me about the first single, "Jessica WJ," which you’re going to play for us.
Zach: This was one of the last songs we recorded for the album. It’s based on a girl from high school name Jessica W.J.
FMQB: And it has a callback to one of the songs from your first album, "High School Lover," mentioning the character, "Elizabeth" from that song. Was that an intentional callback to the previous song?
Zach: It kinda was, yeah.
FMQB: I like when bands do that!
Zach: I’m surprised that people have been coming up after shows and pointing that out. So, people are actually figuring this stuff out.
FMQB: Were those two competing for your affections?
Zach: Actually Elizabeth was just an alias and Jessica W.J. was the real "Elizabeth." On this song this syllables fit so I just used her real name. But it’s not her real name anymore, because she has a new last name.
FMQB: And at this point, it’s twenty years later, so it doesn’t really matter?
Zach: I messaged her and asked if it was ok to use her name and she said it was cool.
FMQB: Speaking of twenty years later, you’re also going to play "Winter of ’98," but the year 1998 is also mentioned in "Jessica WJ," so its obviously an important year that you keep referencing?
Zach: Oh right. I guess lyrically it was a theme, 1998. Y’know, nothing too specific. It’s more the vague idea of 1998, the nostalgia.
FMQB: Was that year particularly nostalgic to you for a reason?
Zach: I don’t know. ’98 just sounds good, it feels right. It’s better than like ’97 or ’99.
FMQB: For rhyming purposes?
Zach: Just the overall vibe of the sound.
Find out more about Cayucas and see the animated video for "Jessica WJ" at Cayucas.com. Listen to their acoustic SubModern Session performances of songs from Real Life (and a cover) here.
By Josh T. Landow