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Ira Kaplan

Guitarist/singer Ira Kaplan fronts the critically acclaimed indie rock band Yo La Tengo. Kaplan and his wife, drummer/singer Georgia Hubley, founded the Hoboken, NJ, group in 1984, working with a revolving cast of musicians until the arrival of bassist James McNew in 1991. Kaplan was mixing bands at the famed Hoboken music club Maxwells in 1984 when he and Hubley (who was working on an animated film at the time) began playing cover songs in their basement. Kaplan was also a rock scribe for a time, writing pieces for Spin, among other publications. (A situation that causes some consternation for Trouser Press founder and rock critic Ira Robbins, who is consistently mistaken for Kaplan.) Kaplan and Hubley placed a now legendary ad in the Village Voice looking for musicians who shared their fondness for groups like the Soft Boys, Mission of Burma, and Love to join up with them. The group bowed in 1985 with the single "The River of Water" backed by a cover of Love's "A House Is Not a Motel." The band's full-length debut, Ride the Tiger, arrived in 1986. However, members Dave Schramm and Mike Lewis left the group after the release of the album, forcing Kaplan into an even more prominent position in the band -- as frontman and lead guitarist -- a role he would never relinquish. Yo La Tengo (named after a baseball outfielder's Spanish cry for "I Got It") continued to release varied sounding, critically acclaimed albums throughout the '90s and into the new millennium. An interesting side note: Kaplan befriended indie filmmaking giant Hal Hartley while the two were in college and Hartley frequently uses Yo La Tengo music in his movies.
© Erik Hage /TiVo
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