Look out vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free folk- there’s a guitar-wielding carnivore and grain consumer on the prowl.
Bryan Yurcan is an indie songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who plays solo, as part of a duo, and with full bands at venues around New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. His music evokes a suburban pastoral quality, with a focus on how our present influences the recollection of our past. He’s also a huge Ween fan.
Originally from Queens, NY, Yurcan now resides in New Jersey, and considers himself an adopted son of the great Garden State. Recently, Yurcan dropped his cheeky new single, “Meat and Wheat.” Full of barbecue restaurant menu options and psychedelic guitars, it’s a raw lo-fi jam that is indeed unique to say the least.
We don’t much about Yurcan, so we figured we’d best ask him some questions to learn more.
So tell us more about you and who got you into a life of music-making?
I grew up in New York Fuckin’ city, as it’s sometimes been called. No disrespect to other parts of this fine land, but I have always been thankful my parents decided to birth me in the capital of the world.
No one really got me into music, my parents were actually very un-musical in terms of playing instruments, I’ve just always loved music and from an early age got into so-called “classic rock” by listening to my dad’s records: Beatles, Dylan, Stones, Who, Hendrix, Joplin etc. As I got into my teen years I got into a lot of the NY based-punk bands from the 70s like the Ramones, Television, and of course the Velvet Underground, which predate them all. From the beginning, I always wanted to make music and not just listen to it. I never wanted to be a professional critic. I got my first guitar at 16 and started writing songs from then on.
What motivates you to write songs?
I guess I just always loved telling stories. I always wanted to be a writer growing up, and I have been lucky to do that professionally. I was a journalist for many years and now am a full-time freelance writer, along with playing a few gigs a month to make some extra dough on the side. When I started listening to music, I never wanted to be Hendrix or Clapton, but rather Bob Dylan. I just always felt compelled to write songs.
Which artists inspire your style of music, and how might you describe your music to people wondering what Bryan Yurcan is all about?
I guess my music is eclectic. I have many different styles of music I love, I can listen to the Ramones one minute and country music the next. I like to write songs in all different genres musically- in fact I am working on an EP now and planning to release it early next year that will have a country song, a punk song, and a synth-heavy 80s style song. Really I just don’t try and pigeonhole myself into a certain style. I’d be equally at home playing at the Grand Ole Opry or a dive bar on the lower east side.
Have you had any issues with the vegetarian or gluten-free community since the release of your new single, “Meat and Wheat?” Are you hoping to ruffle some feathers?
Ha! I honestly never thought of that. It was not my intention to ruffle feathers; I’m gonna be honest I don’t generally think about veganism ever unless someone specifically mentions it- it’s not part of my day-to-day life/considerations. So that wasn’t part of it. But now that you mention it, I do hope it ruffles feathers. Any publicity is good publicity, right?
What’s the influence and inspiration behind the track?
So normally I tend to write “serious” songs, usually about relationships or reflections on my youth and the passing of time. But with this one I purposefully set out to write a not so serious song. I was sitting in a BBQ joint in South Carolina last year and there were all these old couples there, and I was thinking about how maybe this is their date night out on Friday night, and I decided to write a song from that perspective.
I am also a huge fan of Ween and I love that their music is so eclectic and often irreverent and about weird topics. So I’d say they were a big influence on this track.
If you could sit down and indulge in a rack of ribs or a stack of pancakes with any present-day influence/artist, who would it be and what would you want to talk about?
That’s a good question, many of my influences are from the 60’s/70s and are sadly dead now. Maybe Bob Dylan. I know that is such a cliche but he is probably the best songwriter ever and also an interesting man. I’d like to not just discuss music but his life. Like he became a very vocal born-again Christian in the late 70s, and I’d love to discuss the faith (which I share) with him and ask if he still believes or to what extent. He’s very chameleon-like and has had so many different personas.
How do you know when a song like this is finished? Do you find yourself wanting to keep tinkering and re-recording tracks etc.?
That’s a good question! I don’t have an answer other than to say I guess I know when it “feels” finished. I will say I am not a tinkerer in general; that is true in my professional journalism/writing life as well. I just don’t go back and rewrite/tinker very often.
What messages or feelings do you try to convey in your music?
I guess I want to evoke feelings that are genuine and make people think. I don’t want my music to just be in the background while someone is doing something else. I want people to really listen to my lyrics and evoke a feeling in them. Maybe that’s pretentious.
What does success as a musician and songwriter mean to you?
It means having my songs be critically successful and appreciated and that people would listen to them seriously. I have no desire to be famous – it honestly sounds like an awful existence. Having your every move scrutinized, no privacy, paparazzi etc. It really seems terrible. But I would like to be a critically respected songwriter/musician. There are plenty of those who have dedicated fanbases and can walk down the street and no one recognizes them. That sounds ideal.
What are some of your goals – whether musically or otherwise – for the rest of the year?
My main goal is to finish recording the aforementioned EP and get it ready. Beyond that, I’d like to play some more serious, dedicated music venues. A lot of the gigs I play are bars/restaurants/brewpubs/farmer’s markets where people aren’t necessarily there to listen to music. So I’m trying to book myself into more dedicated music venues and showcases.