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It takes a certain type of lyricist to detail the subconscious things that we don’t really speak about.

It’s a type that rejects grandiosity, maintains laser-like observation, and most importantly, isn’t too ashamed of it’s own absurdity. Even the most minimal of entities deserve recognition, and that’s exactly what the Leeds based four piece Yard Act do. They marry parody & irony in equal measures, with groove-heavy disco breakbeats and dark, discordant guitar work to make for entertaining listening throughout their catalogue. 

I say catalogue, but all that’s been released so far is a four-track EP and a remix since January this year. 

That’s all that it has taken for them to receive some pretty overwhelming support. 

They’ve practically lived on BBC Radio 6 Playlists throughout the year, landed festival appearances on the Reading & Leeds BBC Introducing Stage and more, before embarking on a UK and European tour in early 2022. 

We spoke to frontman and lyricist, James Smith after Yard Act’s set on Friday evening in Leeds.

 You’ve just played the BBC Introducing stage at Leeds Festival for the first time, how was that?

Great, yeah. Our guitarist fractured his wrist though and we didn’t think that we were gonna be able to play, but we got through it in the end. 

How did that happen? 

In a moped accident. He lost a tooth too. 

Thank god he was well enough to play then. So being based in Leeds I can imagine that you’ve attended the festival a few times in the past?

Yeah, in my youth. In my GCSE year in 2006 we all piled in the back of my sister’s mates Fiesta and came down. Arctic Monkeys were on second from top with their first album. 

They were on before Muse, who I didn’t bother watching for obvious reasons.

So it must be great to play it as a previous punter?

Yeah it’s a good vibe. It’s a special festival and a rite of passage. It triggers memories in you to come back to it. 

Positive memories mainly. I got left behind the first year that I came. 

I had an argument with my mate and they drove off without me, so I ended up stranded near Temple Newsam. Mobile phones didn’t really exist at that point. I was here for the best part of Monday, but got home eventually. 

Obviously the lyricism is a key element of Yard Act. Who are your main lyrical influences?

I like Ian Dury a lot. A lot of it comes from rap music and books too. I like GZA from The WuTang Clan. And I like MF Doom.

Rest In Peace.

Yeah, too right, it was brutal when that happened. Apparently he used to live in Leeds. He got denied from returning back to America after a tour, and was trapped in Brixton for ages. But apparently he moved to Leeds ‘cos he was sick of being in London. 

He was good mates with Jeff Barrow from Beak and Portishead. And apparently he was at a Beak gig at The Brudenell, and I didn’t believe that anyone was telling the truth. So yeah, apparently he lived on the outskirts of Leeds and didn’t really bother anyone. 

This is becoming an MF Doom biography. 

I’ll write it, unofficially. 

And with books, I like Kurt Vonnegut. His main one is Slaughterhouse-Five, which is a really good one.

Is Graham from the song ‘Fixer Upper’ a fictional or real character?

He’s an amalgamation of many men I grew up with and still know. And this is worth saying I think, because everyone from wherever they’re from has a completely different opinion of what he’s like. And no one’s got him quite right yet. 

I’m quite defensive of him as a troubled man who isn’t the enemy, he’s just someone who needs a bit of guidance.

And a bit of love!

And a bit of love yeah. He’s of a generation that weren’t loved. 

But everyone from all over has different opinions of him. And it’s the same kind of man but the nuances are really important. And they’re really important to me. 

I care loads for him, and am really defensive. Some people are like “he’s a cunt and I hate him!” but it’s not true, he’s a real man that has been raised in a certain way.

And that’s Graham.

He’s in all of us.

Follow Yard Act and grab tickets for their 2022 tour below… 


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MATTY DAGGER

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