Press | Milwaukee Rockers Yipes! Reunite For a Very Belated Third Album (Feb. 12, 2019)

Shepherd Express Feb. 12, 2019

Milwaukee Rockers Yipes! Reunite For a Very Belated Third Album

by Joshua Miller

Milwaukee's Yipes! are ready for another encore.

The band, which features singer/songwriter Pat McCurdy, guitarists Andy Bartel and Mike Hoffmann, bassist Pete Strand and drummer Teddy Freese, like to think of themselves as a hard-working rock band with memorable tunes and a great sense of humor.

Between 1977 and 1981, they were a staple in the Milwaukee music scene for that very reason. They toured through the Midwest and landed a deal with RCA/Millennium Records, where they would release two successful albums. Their self-titled 1979 debut charted in Billboard's Top 200, while its follow-up, 1980's "A Bit Irrational," earned them a Top-60 single on Billboard.

When they played their farewell show in 1981, it seemed like their story may have run its course.

However, when they were inducted into WAMI Hall of Fame in 2013, they were compelled to reunite. As they performed together on the live stage for the first time in more than 30 years, everyone felt fortunate to be able to perform together again.

"It was really a surprise and great honor to receive the award, to be remembered," Bartel says. "The best thing was playing those songs on stage for the first time in years, looking across and seeing my friends in the same spots as the last time we played a show. It was surreal, amazing and something I never thought would happen. Quite emotional."

McCurdy also enjoyed the chance to front a "loud rock 'n' roll band again."

While Hoffmann has been part of two other reunions with E*I*E*I*O* and Semi-Twang, this reunion felt more personal for him.

"The Yipes! experience has deeper roots, back to junior high with Pat and first grade with Pete," Hoffmann says. "Yipes! was the beginning, and it's great to be seen in that light again."

That excitement spilled over to additional reunion shows, including one at Summerfest. The band also decided to record a new song called "Blink of an Eye," which McCurdy calls a "powerful, melodic, romantic, yet really wistful" song.

"It really captured the bittersweet of the experience of time flying by and the joy of making music together again," says Strand.

The popularity of the song made them realize it was time to go into the studio and record a new album.

"After we played our last show in Minneapolis, we said if we did anything else, it would be to record," says Bartel. "We liked the way the band was sounding, and we wanted to make a Yipes! record that would reflect that."

To achieve this, they set up a studio in the living room of mutual friend Ernie Holtz's house.

"We set up our own studio in the living room of the house we have rehearsed in since the WAMI reunion," says Bartel. "Mike engineered the sessions, and we recorded all the basic tracks as a band. Then, Pat and Mike moved on to Mike's studio for vocals, overdubs and the first mixes."

"They sent them to me in Knoxville where I was living at the time, where I added guitars, vocals and the final mixes. We tweaked a few things, and there you have it. We did it all ourselves, so it's a good picture of how we see our music."

"It was the way we did things from the beginning of Yipes!," adds Hoffmann, "hands on, recording demos as best we could."

As a result, the songs on the band's third album, Yipes!!!, play like a natural extension of their past work. "We wanted to show our roots, but with some added maturity that might have been lacking in the first time around," says Bartel.

"I think that years and years of constant playing with other bands has only helped to make us all better musicians and singers," Freese adds.

As the band's primary songwriter, McCurdy thoroughly enjoyed writing and showing songs to his bandmates. "Some were old, some were ones I've played in my solo show and some written specifically for this album," he says. "I used to be wary of showing the band new songs. This time it was 'OK, guys--here's what I've got.'"

The album also features covers of The Searchers' "Each Time" and Adam Faith's "It's Alright," two songs that remain highly influential for the band. "The covers are indicative of Pat and Andy's original concept of Yipes! before the beginning," Hoffmann says.

The band's future past the release show is uncertain for now, though McCurdy says he's writing songs for a follow-up and there's also talk of putting out unreleased material. "I think we've been given a great gift, to get back together and record and perform together again," says Strand. "I want to really stay in the moment and take it all in without thinking about what's next."