If you met Alec Ounsworth, you’d like the guy even without knowing he’s the mastermind behind Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
The Philadelphia native laughs at pretty much everything, and along with his newsboy cap and glasses, his enthusiasm for music and fans is quite endearing. Oh, and I guess he has a new album out or something.
I spoke with CYHSY’s lead singer/songwriter over the phone recently prior to the group’s March 25 stop at the Casbah in support of their latest album, “The Tourist," and as I am wont to do, I began the conversation with a groundbreaking question -- what does a band that’s been relevant for over 12 years do between shows on tour?
“Drive,” said Ounsworth laughing. “And if we can stop at music stores, there is usually an interest in that. But yeah, basically the same ol’ stop at rest stops, drive again.”
The group's fifth studio album, “The Tourist,” has the frontman Ounsworth as the last original member standing. Yet, the album still contains the usual playful quirkiness that makes the indie-rock/pop band instantly recognizable and, of course, Ounsworth’s animated vocals, which are commonly compared to those of Talking Heads’ David Byrne. The inconsistency of bandmates is seen as a positive by the 39-year-old singer.
“To have a new look on songs based on players is always interesting to me. That’s always my favorite to see in a live show. It changes a little bit, but it keeps it fresh for me too. Part of the reason why I stopped playing between the second and third album, I felt stale and somewhat dishonest, because you can fall into a venue and just do that every night and then, you know, the show began and then it ended -- nothing really changed in between, but now I have to adjust and it’s a good adjustment to have to make each time.”
Besides the whole ‘full band’ thing, Ounsworth has also done “Living Room” tours where he takes over people’s homes for intimate acoustic sets across the U.S. and Europe. Does he have future plans to revisit the idea?
“So, you know, when I have the chance I guess, I’ll do another Living Room tour. It will be nice to follow it up so I can actually get a better handle, a better read on what people think of the new material and how it’s coming out live. I can do this Q&A thing, and follow up on people who come to these shows with ‘What can we do better -- what can we do to better serve you?’” [laughs]
Musician, people-pleaser, lover, fighter and writer Matthew Craig Burke has been spewing musical words of wisdom since never. He lives off of peanut butter sandwiches, beer and Beck Hansen. Follow his updates on Facebook or contact him directly.