An Interview With Total Yuppies, A Bunch of Couches, and a Dog

>> It was after work on a Friday. I had been working as an Usher for the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Men’s Hockey games. I remember that night we had a bunch of high school prospects in my section and boy did they give me a tough time. All of these kids were at least 6’ 2” compared to my 5’ 8” on a good day. All of them had suits on but underneath it all, they were still high school students. At one point they threw a bag of popcorn, narrowly missing a bunch of kids up front. I had one authoritative move going for me. My beard. I went up to them, stared one kid right in the eyes and said, “I don’t care if you’re on the hockey team here next year, I will throw you out if you cause another problem.” Not a peep from them for the rest of the game. Absolutely worth the trouble. I didn’t even change when I went to 168. It was a dank basement show. I was wearing a bright blue turtleneck, a pair of light-tan khakis and dress shoes. I didn’t care. I was ready to throw down. At WITR, we had been playing Total Yuppies non-stop and I was hyped to see them live for the first time. The bummed house beer in my hand was ice cold as we all stood in downstairs, chatting before the bands came on. We arrived at Total Yuppies. The small crowd was beyond ready to mosh and… we did. I didn’t care how bad it smelled, I didn’t care how many dudes were there. When “Normal Life” came on, Jake, Dylan, JT and Ben all jammed on their indie-surf rock vibes as loud as possible. I can’t imagine the noise reverberating through the apartments adjacent to us. The rising energy was only rivaled by the mist of sweaty bodies. When everyone has such a personal connection to the music, you can’t deny the relevance of local music in our lives. That experience won’t go away anytime soon.

“He’s not my dog and he’s not Ben’s dog, but he’s our third roommate’s dog. He’s kind of like a fifth member of Total Yuppies.” Jake Walsh, front-man of the band, points to Jack, a tiny white fluff of a dog, as JT Fitzgerald, the bassist, interjects, “He’s the fifth Beatle.” We’re all sipping on some warm whiskey ciders as it begins to rain on Goodman Street. Walsh asks if he should put the dog outside. Dylan Vaisey, the drummer, who is sitting in the chair beside me exclaims, “You put him outside, you put me outside!”

Total Yuppies’ first EP Pleasantries, is a post-college life freakout, where we find the band coping with a new transitory part of life. While the music itself is fun, the lyrics feel very cathartic. Walsh mentions “It was really panicky, and it was kind of a reaction to myself at the time because I thought I was trying to be too serious with music. I wanted to make more fun stuff but if you’re sad, you’re sad, and it comes out.” Since the first EP was such a fleeting period of time for Walsh, the band felt those songs became tiring to play. In contrast, a new EP is being written in a more collaborative effort. “The songs explore heavier themes, and there’s more interplay between me and Ben. They’re a little bit more complex. It’s not just me coming to everyone and being like, ‘Here are my songs!’ I’ve been having a crisis about that recently. There’s a lot of the same styles and a lot of the same feelings but I think it explores a deeper level of emotion and anxiety.”

I jokingly ask if everyone is on board for the new EP. Walsh talks about an imaginary contract drafted up in Crayola, while Fitzgerald riffs on about the terms of the agreement. “You won’t hangout with any other friends. You won’t even think about music without thinking about me!”

Me: "It's a bit hard to get rid of Crayola marker too."

Walsh: “It’s tough they don’t make an eraser for it. They make erasable pens but not erasable markers. What kind

of scheme is that?”

Vaisey: “It’s 2016, come on.”

Fitzgerald: “What about dry-erase markers?”

Walsh: “Are they CRAYONS though?”

Fitzgerald: “We’re talking about MARKERS!”

Burdett: “You said markers…”

Walsh: “Oh… I was talking about crayons. I messed up”

Vaisey: “No regrets everyone. Never erase anything.”

Walsh: “What we’re saying is this band is written in blood and stone… and you’re all lifers.”

Total Yuppies is without a doubt, a bunch of casual dudes making some killer tunes. Their first EP is currently up for Best of Rochester and it’s exciting to hear that they’re looking to follow it up on such a short clip. Next time I see them live, I hopefully won’t get my work clothes as dirty as I did that night at 168. <<