Yeah Yeah Yeahs Aim High

This year, they were the best thing in punk rock. Next year, they plan to rebuild Michael Jackson's career

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage
December 12, 2002

A year ago, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were a promising little unsigned trio with fans in at least two of New York's five boroughs. Today – without even releasing a full-length album – they're a promising little unsigned trio with fans around the world. Thanks to the five songs on their EP, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, scads of laudatory press and their funked-up, punked-out live shows, the Yeahs inspired a good ol' fashioned bidding war that was still going on at press time. “We really need to decide,” says singer Karen O with a sigh. “It's been hard.” O, drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner recorded an album on their own this fall and, come hell or high water, they plan to have it out in early 2003.

What's the most mischievous thing you did this year?
ZINNER: The backstage high jinks at [music-industry convention] South by Southwest.

Karen O Wrote Track for Spike Jonze's 'Her'

KAREN O: I was drinking margaritas with my girlfriends, and we were totally trashed. We destroyed Clinic's dressing room and stole all their masks. We got kicked out, and on our way out we shoved Courtney Love. Then we went back to our $5,000 suite that some record label was paying for and freaked out more. It was a big rock-star night.

What was the most extravagant thing a label did to woo you?
CHASE: There's a bar in the swankiest hotel in London, the Sanderson, called the Purple Bar. Martinis were running about sixteen pounds. It was us and a bunch of our friends, and we racked up about a $1,600 bar tab.

Did you feel bad about it?
ZINNER: Not when you only have two pounds in your pocket.

Favorite record of the year?
CHASE: Music was released this year?

What's been the most rewarding aspect of being the Yeah Yeah Yeahs this year?
KAREN O: The Karen O look-alikes are my favorite. They come to the shows with a glove on one hand and all decked out Karen O-style. It's, like, back to Madonna in her early years in Japan. I like having those die-hard fans. There are a lot of them in Cleveland. Some girl made me a neon orange bracelet, and other girls had Karen O pins they made themselves. I felt a lot of love from my girls.

How do you pass time on the road?
KAREN O: When we were sharing a bus with the Liars in Europe, we had a serious love affair with Tony Hawk 3, the Xbox game.

CHASE: One night, a bunch of us were in the back playing Tony Hawk and listening to the Smiths, and [Liars singer] Angus [Andrew] said, “You know what? The only thing that separates us from Blink-182 right now is the fact that we're listening to the Smiths.”

Do you want to jam with other people?
KAREN O: I want to do that. You know, Neil Young, Iggy Pop . . .

CHASE: . . . Michael Jackson.

ZINNER: Karen is going to single-handedly resurrect Michael Jackson's career.

KAREN O: That's the plan. We're just going to rebuild his whole thing.

This story is from the December 12th, 2002 issue of Rolling Stone. 

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

More Song Stories entries »