Bigfoot Yancey
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Bigfoot Yancey

Indianapolis, Indiana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Indianapolis, Indiana, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Americana Folk




"Keeping it Real: Bigfoot Yancey’s Hills"

Ten minutes before stepping onto Wasser Brewing Company’s stage the four members of Bigfoot Yancey gather across the street, next to their van. It’s an all-white Ford. One of those tall, narrow, 15-passenger types. The sliding door has a few crimps in it by the bottom corner. I don’t know whether the rest of it is equally banged up. Dusk has thrown that dark slate gray color across the sky showcasing the still dormant tree limbs across its canvas like those “tangled bine-stems” Thomas Hardy once wrote about. Even though windows wrap completely around the van’s body I still find myself thinking about that Instagram meme one of my high school students proudly showed me a few years ago: showing a similar, windowless, ride with “Hey Kids! Free Candy!” spray-painted across the side. I chuckled but I kept the joke to myself. After all, I had only met the band about 15 minutes earlier, and social decorum demands that you wait at least two hours before cracking “white van” jokes with new acquaintances…five hours if the van has no windows.

I don’t remember what Yancey’s front man Mike Angel said when he finished rummaging through a bag sitting behind the passenger seat, but I remember the brown paper sack he held up once he turned around. Inside that sack rested a fifth of Woodford, and in short order the band passed it around. More of a $20 Early Times drinker myself, I had to admit I got a kick—metaphorical and biological—from the added bite you get when you spend twice as much for the bottle.

“Hell,” Yancey bassist Kevin Grove said yanking the bottle free of the sack letting the latter fall to the cement, “we don’t need this.” With that, the bottle circled the group one more time. After his second snort, Angel, dropped into a catcher’s squat and patted his palms on the sidewalk.

“Yep,” he said. “That’s our pre-game prayer.”

The swagger Bigfoot Yancey carried as they strolled back to the brewery wasn’t the sort you see when state-ranked football teams get off the bus, staring through you because they’re about to kick your ass with emotionless mechanical purity. Rather, Yancey’s confidence boasted an exuberance. A lot of bands say they’re happy, but be it a corner brewery in a small town or a big festival in the Circle City, Bigfoot Yancey wants to be there. And they don’t want to be there solely for the musical experience—joyous enough on its own to be sure. They’re into the crowd. I saw it crossing the street when guitarist Jerin Kelly turned to me, flashed a natural grin, and extended his hand. I saw it again when banjoist Loran Bohall (who also plays a powerfully haunting handsaw) reacted to Wasser’s bar-top. Comprised of two long, jagged planks of local poplar, cut a few miles away and coated under enough clear wood finish to preserve it well beyond the apocalypse, Bohall marveled upon it. A woodworker himself, he launched into an enthusiastic soliloquy describing his own work with massive planks much like those propping up our beers.

The band’s high spirits, lively and intoxicating as they are on stage, carry over just as powerfully on plastic. Hills, Bigfoot Yancey’s first full-length album, offers a cross-section of the band’s talents showcasing not only their energy, their technical precision, and their vocal power but also their ability to bend a tune to a bluegrass bent on one track, a near-rock folk anthem on another, and soulful Americana everywhere else.

The record opens with a pair of upbeat songs, the fervent title track and the equally up-tempo follow-up “Acid Rain.” But the album’s soul sits in the tunes which follow. “Blue Clouds” demonstrates the band’s aforementioned technical control, patiently moving through the speaker’s heartfelt expression of the paradox musicians face alone on the road in some of the most remote parts of the country. Hills middle quarto is anchored by “Coyote,” a captivating track featuring Bohall’s near-onomatopoeiadic work at the saw which bookends a slow, but addictive melody. The album’s multi-dimensional effect becomes most noticeable in the final set of tunes, specifically the 11th track, “Say What You Mean.” Built around a solid melody, the song’s traditional rock structure could easily transition to an electric session, but sounds every bit as natural (and in many ways more so) to the array of acoustic strings which perform it.

In sum Hills is both a combination of Bigfoot Yancey’s patient development as a group of musicians as well as a testament to their appeal as a group of people. And it’s the latter, more than anything which sells the band. As good as the record is (and it’s very, very good…after about six dozen sessions on my computer I still can’t turn it off), it’s the band’s cosmic allure in person which makes becoming a fan worth the experience. Not because they cast the glitz and aura as a set of Kliptch-level superstars (but if that happens, they could pull it off), but because they stand before you as authentic human beings. Happy to play their stuff. Happy to toast the crowd. Happy to down a shot of Woodford. Happy to be a bunch of great friends calling themselves Bigfoot Yancey. - Donovan Wheeler - National Road Magazine

"Interview: Mike Angel of Bigfoot Yancey Posted April 28, 2017 by Brett Alderman"

This weekend, Indianapolis' Bigfoot Yancey is releasing their latest full-length album, Hills. I made my way to meet Mike Angel at Fountain Square’s Square Cat Vinyl. We drank beer and discussed the recording process for Hills, band fistfights and spirit animals.
With two sold out CD release shows this weekend, Hills is bound to pop up on your radar. Recorded at Melt Audio Indianapolis, the album consists of twelve well-written bluegrass/Americana songs, presented in one lush collection.

Brett Alderman: How long has Hills been in the works?
Mike Angel: I think we started recording it in February or January of last year, so it’s been a long time in the making. We were trying to wait for snow to record, so we decided to record in the wintertime where you normally expect snow. Whenever it was January or February, we went to Melt Audio. That’s Cortland Foxwoth’s place. He’s our engineer on the album. I remember it was like 70 and sunny in February or something like that. It always feels better recording when it’s snowing outside for some reason to me.

BA: Did you record the entire album in the studio? I think last time we spoke you were doing some recording in a living room or something, right?
MA: That was in his living room. He has a studio built in his basement and then a handful of the songs; I can’t even tell you which ones anymore. I think maybe the slower ones we did in his living room primarily because I was yearning for sunlight. We were stuck in this basement that was fucking driving me nuts, so we set up acoustic panels and microphones and stuff upstairs.

BA: When you started recording, were most of the songs already flushed out or did you write during that process?
MA: A lot of these songs are older than me and the boys have been playing together. I had written on the road, spending a lot of time down by the border in Texas, in the desert in general. I was living in my van with my dog. I wrote a lot of songs [there] so I came back with all those. Some of the songs on this album we just played by a campfire together.

BA: Is it a collection of songs, or is there an overall theme?
MA: It’s not like a concept album or anything like that. I guess the theme is my moods over the years; heartbreak, a lot of women, hatred for the government.

BA: So this is a personal album for you?
MA: Yeah, all the songs are personal. They’re all pertinent to my life and my experiences, mostly about me and being drunk, or doing drugs, or being with different women, being stuck in a van in the desert.

BA: Did opening up Square Cat Vinyl delay the recording process at all?
MA: Yes, it did. Once the building of Square Cat started, everything else halted. I dedicated 24 hours of the day to this place. I was sleeping here and just working my ass off. I got to know a lot of people though, so I think the networking really helped us out in the long run. I got to meet you because of this place as an example.

BA: Any stories from recording where things turned out differently than planned in a good way?
MA: We broke out into a fistfight with each other once just from being around each other so much. We were drunk and rowdy, but it’s… that happens from time to time and the next day, everything’s fine. Anybody who’s partied with us extensively has seen us all fight each other at some point. Yeah, we wrote a couple of new songs, finished new songs while we were there, the song “Acid Rain” and the song “Blue Clouds”. That was the first time we played them together, and we didn’t hear them again until we got copies of the CD. It was kind of emotional to hear something we started working on a year ago.

BA: The album is coming out this month, right?
MA: April 28. We have two nights here at Square Cat, and they both sold out.

BA: Awesome. Obviously, the CD I’m sure will be available. Any other special things you guys have planned?
MA: The vinyl is coming out in July. It’s on the way. We’re working on some other promotional things. We have t-shirts and stickers, all that stuff.

BA: Obviously, with the shop, your full time gig is pretty demanding. Do you guys see yourself playing outside of the area much?
MA: Yeah, we’re playing a lot of Indiana music festivals this year like well, obviously the Virginia Avenue Folk Fest because I’m one of the founders of it. We’re playing the John Hartford Memorial Festival. We’re playing the River Roots Festival. We’re headlining the GnawBrew festival this year. I think there’s a couple of other ones right here, and those all have decent size acts, so I feel like people are certainly going to notice us. Because of all the buzz around the album, people are reaching out to us and offering shows.

BA: Is there any significance to the visuals of Hills?
MA: We were just kind of silly one day talking about our spirit animals. Obviously, the bear would represent me as the largest, strongest member of the group. We’ve called Jerin ‘Wild Cat Kelly’ ever since we had a fight months a long time ago where he went berserk and attacked us like a wild cat. You hang out with Loran, you’ll see the wolf on him, and Kevin thinks he’s a turtle for some damn reason. The other things are just kind of representative of us, We’re kind of hillbillies, we go shooting, we drink a lot of beer and are just woodsy kind of guys because we camp a lot. The name of the album, Hills, comes from the hills of Brown County. That’s where my family’s from.

BA: The CD looks like a map?
MA: Yes, topographic map of Yellow Wood Forest, a place where we used to play campfires together, Loran and Jerin, and I, so it all kind of ties into us. [Brown County is] a beautiful place. My family has been there since the beginning. - Brett Alderman - Musical Family Tree

"Best new local album"

Hills - Bigfoot Yancey
You’d be wrong to call Bigfoot Yancey’s Hills the most straightforward album on my review list this summer, because in the vein of bands like Blitzen Trapper and Brown Bird, they merely use the sounds of folk music to draw you in. Once you’re there, the band’s songs reveal their appreciation of strong song structure and intricate melodies, building from song to song to create an album that is nothing if not adventurous. - Nuvo

"Review: Bigfoot Yancey's 'Hills' uses folk conventions to draw you in"

You’d be wrong to call Bigfoot Yancey’s Hills the most straightforward album on my review list this summer, because in the vein of bands like Blitzen Trapper and Brown Bird, they merely use the sounds of folk music to draw you in. Once you’re there, the band’s songs reveal their appreciation of strong song structure and intricate melodies, building from song to song to create an album that is nothing if not adventurous.

The band is much more confident at the album’s start than on the already solid Welcome to the City, which introduced the band’s Trampled By Turtles-inspired Americana blend back in 2015. The arrangements are denser, and the album’s recordings bear the distinct stamp of producer Wesley Heaton, who also helped spur Veseria’s creativity on RLTVTY. “Brown County” features the band’s strongest harmonies yet, backed by a layered-yet-subtle bass and guitar arrangement that only builds as the banjo kicks in. The kind of song that pushed bands like Mumford and Sons to the forefront of pop music, yet with the subtlety in craft that such bands lacked, this is what deserves to push Bigfoot Yancey into wider national discussion.

“El Paso,” meanwhile, is what makes me want to hunt this band down and finally see them live. The song sounds so effortless on the recording, but there’s so much care taken in the building of the song, particularly in the second verse’s addition of mariachi horns to the steady rhythm of drums, bass and guitar and Kevin Grove’s classic vocals. The entire album is like that, maintaining a tight-rope walk between reverence to the past and an itch to push the boundaries of the future. Hills strikes a perfect balance, making it a must-hear for fans of contemporary roots music. - Jonathan Sanders


Hills - 2017 (Full Length)

Welcome to the City - 2015 (EP)



Bigfoot Yancey is an Indianapolis-based band that has developed a sound that draws upon inspiration from various genres but always rooted in Americana and the blue collar sound that has defined many parts of this country for decades. In an era where more and more musicians are relying upon technology, Bigfoot Yancey strives to keep their music as raw and stripped down as possible. This allows the listener to fully engage with the music in a very real sense. Their live performances echo this raw, down home feel with energetic and lively performances that acclimate themselves very easily in a wide variety of settings. The band has developed a solid following in the Indianapolis area by identifying themselves as the blue collar boys next door that just so happen to play a mean guitar, banjo, harmonica, and even a saw.

Bigfoot Yancey has performed throughout Indiana at an array of venues and festivals. They have been a featured act for two years at the Virginia Avenue Folk Fest. They have also played the Indiana Wine Fair and IndyPride Fest. They've had the opportunity to acts such as Greensky Bluegrass, Joe Pug, Charlie Parr, Chicago Farmer, Kopecky, and many others.

Band Members