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For Yard Act, hitting the big time was only half the battle

Phoebe Fox
Yard Act; Facebook

There are only two tragedies in life: One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.

That Oscar Wilde quote would probably still ring true today, 150 years later, for Yard Act. The members of the British rock band spent lots of time playing music in other bands in the DIY scene in Leeds, but they'd only played a handful of live shows as Yard Act before the band shot to fame during the pandemic lockdowns.

They released their debut EP, Dark Days, in 2021. By 2022, their debut album was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize, and Elton John was collaborating with them on a song.

While that success was — in many ways — exactly what they wanted, their sophomore album, Where's My Utopia?, explores how getting exactly what you want doesn't make all your problems go away. Sometimes, it just creates new ones.

Frontman James Smith writes about the internal conflict of "success" like a frantic poet, and he deploys wit, humor and wry observation while the band branches out, sonically, from their post-punk beginnings.

Smith and Yard Act guitarist Ryan Needham join us in the World Cafe studio for a conversation, plus an exclusive live performance. Enjoy.

Set list

  • "Pour Another"
  • "Petroleum"
  • "Down by the Stream"
  • "Grifter's Grief"