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Pete Yorn

Roots rock torchbearer Pete Yorn found mainstream success in 2001 with the release of his gold-selling debut album, Musicforthemorningafter, which included the hit singles "Life on a Chain" and "Strange Condition." Working with producers like Brad Wood, Peter Buck, Dave Grohl, Butch Walker, Frank Black, and Jackson Phillips, each of whom influenced his sound to some degree, Yorn maintained a steady chart presence as the decades progressed, releasing a string of acclaimed efforts like 2009's Break Up (with Scarlett Johansson), 2016's Arranging Time, and 2022's Hawaii. Born in 1974 Pompton Plains, New Jersey, Yorn grew up nearby Montville where his older brother Rick Yorn (a Hollywood talent agent) taught him how to play drums. By his teens, he was also playing guitar and writing songs, inspired by his love band British alt-rock bands like The Cure and The Smiths. After high school, he attended Syracuse University, where he further developed his sound after discovering melodic guitar rock and alt-country groups like Sloan, Teenage Fanclub, Son Volt, and others. Following his graduation, Yorn pulled up stakes in 2000 and relocated to Los Angeles, California, where he crashed on his brother's couch and began writing music for film and television. Prospects increased when Yorn was recruited to score Me, Myself, & Irene, a Farrelly Brothers movie starring Jim Carrey. One of his own pop/rock numbers, "Strange Condition," appeared on the film's soundtrack and was subsequently released as a single, where it fared well on the modern rock charts and increased public demand for Yorn's songwriting. After netting a record contract with Columbia, Yorn returned to the studio and co-produced his debut album, 2001's Musicforthemorningafter, with Brad Wood and R. Walt Vincent. He also played the bulk of the instruments himself. Yorn supported the album by touring for 18 months, enabling Musicforthemorningafter to go gold by April 2002. The following spring, he returned with the earnest Day I Forgot, which featured several contributions from R.E.M.'s Peter Buck (who had previously made a cameo on the single version of "Strange Condition"). A year later, Yorn issued his first live album, Live from New Jersey, a double-disc set that captured his late October performance at the Community Theater in Morristown, New Jersey. For his third studio LP, Yorn enlisted collaborators such as the Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl and the Dixie Chicks' Martie Maguire and Natalie Maines to shape the sound of Nightcrawler. Produced by Butch Walker, the album arrived in August 2006 and replaced Yorn's folky leanings with a more rock-oriented foundation. Another noted producer, Bright Eyes alum Mike Mogis, was enlisted to helm Yorn's next record. The resulting Back and Fourth was recorded in Omaha, Nebraska, and released in 2009, prefaced by the lead single "Don't Wanna Cry." Yorn returned later that year with another album, this one recorded alongside actress/vocalist Scarlett Johansson and inspired by the famed duets of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot. Although the project was finished several years prior, Break Up didn't see the light of day until September 2009, after several of Yorn's friends urged him to issue the material; the album went to 41 on the Billboard charts. In 2010, Yorn released his self-titled fifth studio solo album featuring production from the Pixies' Frank Black; the record peaked at 66. Yorn's next project was the Olms, a band he formed in 2011 with J.D. King. During 2012, the band recorded the album that became their eponymous 2013 debut. Released that summer, the album peaked at four on Billboard's Heatseekers chart. The Olms claimed another album was in the works -- indeed, they released an EP of live material in the fall of 2013 -- but Yorn first returned to his solo career. He signed to Capitol in 2015 and reunited with R. Walt Vincent -- the producer of Musicforthemorningafter -- for 2016's Arranging Time. Working once again with Johansson, Yorn issued the 2018 EP Apart, a sequel to the duo's 2009 collaboration Break Up. Another duet appeared later that year, this time between Yorn and Liz Phair on a cover of Pixies' 1989 classic "Here Comes Your Man." Yorn returned in 2019 with Caretakers, an earnest and introspective album made with Jackson Phillips of Day Wave. Sidelined by the COVID-19 lockdown, Yorn issued a pair of archival concert albums (Live at the Troubadour and Live at the Fonda) in 2020. A home-recorded collection of cover songs, Pete Yorn Sings the Classics, appeared in 2021, and was followed in 2022 by the assured and inward-looking studio album Hawaii, which saw him working again with Jackson Phillips.
© Andrew Leahey & Kerry L. Smith /TiVo


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