Yam Haus Return to “Rafters” a New Band

You can play it safe, you can do what you’d like / But as for me I’m falling sings Lars Pruitt on Yam Haus’ “Rafters.”

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For the Minnesota trio band, “Rafters” came after uncertain times within the band and a new beginning for Yam Haus, now consisting of guitarist and singer Pruitt, bassist Zach Beinlich, and drummer Jake Felstow. The band’s first release after being signed to Big Loud Rock, an imprint of Big Loud Records, “Rafters” comes five years after the band’s 2018 debut, Stargazer, three EPs, and a collection of singles later.

Mixing the nostalgia and buoyancy of youth into a renewed sense of hope, “Rafters” sets new musical values for Yam Haus. A crystallized view of future intentions, “Rafters” exorcises some past hangups, setbacks, and necessary mistakes—I wanna swing from my hands in the rafters, and let myself fall— and finds Yam Haus making music for all the right reasons.

“Making “Rafters” really helped us enjoy being in this band again,” Pruitt tells American Songwriter.

The past several years have been evolutionary and eye-widening for Yam Haus—their name meaning “you are me,” an adage the trio follows within the band and outside with others. Trying to figure out their place and whether they would continue on as a band two years earlier, Yam Haus went from a foursome to three after guitarist Seth Blum parted ways. The band also made an appearance on the short-lived competition American Song Contest, hosted by Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson.

For a band that nearly broke up a year or two earlier, in such a short time, the band’s presence was still palpable, stretching across more than 15 million streams, more than 1.8 million TikTok likes, and 20 million-plus views on YouTube.

Now, embarking on a North American tour along with guests Landon Conrath and Levi Evans, and more music ready for 2023, Yam Haus is refitted for what’s ahead.

“I got the band tattooed on my ass,” joked Pruitt, “so I’m here for the long game.”  

Pruit recently spoke to American Songwriter about the band’s shifts and epiphanies, making “Rafters” and how they got back to enjoying making music again

American Songwriter: Congrats on your signing with Big Loud Rock. It’s a new era for Yam Haus. Along with “Rafters” and the music you’re making now, how do you feel the band has evolved — musically, lyrically — since Stargazer?

Lars Pruitt: Thank you. We’re really excited about it. I would say that the band has evolved from being very pop-leaning to more rock-leaning, musically. This has evolved very naturally as a result of becoming a touring band since our inception. At first, it was like, we made music in a studio or basement then we‘d figure out how to play it live. And now it’s more like, here’s a song idea that feels really good to play live, let’s record it. 

Lyrically, it’s a similar situation for me as it’s always been. I just keep checking in with myself, the band, the world around me, and then I show up and try to be open and honest. The band is gracious enough to give me space and time to do that. For me, the best lyrics tend to come out of honesty. The lyrics I’m writing today are probably much different because I’m a different person than I was when we started the band. It feels really good and we’re loving this new place we’re in. 

AS: Let’s get into “Rafters.” Was this an older track you had hanging around for a while and decided to revisit, or is it fairly new?

LP: “Rafters” was first written on March 1, 2022. Zach, Jake, and myself all went up to Zach’s parent’s cabin in Cumberland [Wisconsin] to write and spend a couple of days together. I believe it was a start-from-scratch idea, although I remember Zach had some instrumental demos he was kicking around, so the verse progression may have come from one of those. 

I remember finding the chorus pretty quickly and belting the melody. The lyrics fell into place in a natural and rather quick way as well. We were in a very weird place as a band and I was feeling situationally claustrophobic in regard to the whole music business. 

At the time, we were still very much in a rut from the pandemic and were sort of trapped and waiting around to be on this national TV show called American Song Contest, which we had a lot of mixed emotions around. It was an exciting time, but it felt desperate too. Like we had to succeed formally in music soon, otherwise, we were done.

Yam Haus (l to r) Jake Felstow, Lars Pruitt, and Zach Beinlich (Photo: Calla Flanagan)

I felt like I was losing the plot a bit, and this song came like a flood of water in the middle of a very real desert for me. Myself and the guys all clicked with it immediately. 

We then sat on it for months and when we eventually signed with Big Loud Rock, our A&R connected us with Dave Katz, who helped me add an additional section to the song that we felt really completed it — the Can you see me falling section. 

AS: Is there some kind of running thread around “Rafters” and some of the new music you’re planning to release in 2023?

LP: “Rafters,” as well as many of the new tunes coming, all very much address my coming to grips with the unstable state of the world and the band in the past year or two, and I suppose my response to it. It’s much more band-related lyrically, it’s sort of me saying to myself and the guys, “Can we give up, on the whole, trying to be a successful thing and just enjoy music again?”

More concisely, I guess you could say the theme could be “letting go” or “bringing back your inner child” in regard to our current vocational choice. Making “Rafters” really helped us enjoy being in this band again.

AS: How do songs come together within Yam Haus? Is it a three-part collaboration?
Has this shifted at all since 2017, or do songs still tend to come in the same way?

Well since we’re a band, every song has to be something we all feel connected to and believe in. Working backward from there, that can happen in a lot of ways. 

When it comes to melody and lyrics, that’s where I tend to be the most hands-on and possessive. I always say to the guys, “If I have to sing this every night I better not only like it, but believe it, and feel like its coming from me in some way.” They give me a lot of space to sort that out. I usually write 2-3 songs a week. My motto is to just keep showing up. I’ve made a lot of bad songs! 

Zach is a demo machine. He loves making little 45-second song beds with a rough chopped-up drum beat and some guitar lines. We’ll sift through them together semi-regularly as a band, and if there’s one he really likes he’ll usually show them to us. This has led to a lot of good stuff. ie “ready to go”

Jake is a detail wizard and very good at maximizing our strengths. He’s the best at using Ableton (our preferred DAW, if you’re reading this pls sponsor) between the three of us, and he’s always down to squeeze a little more juice out of every idea. He’s a finisher, which is really nice to have someone who can bring a song to the finish line with piles of mix notes. He’s patient, meticulous, and dedicated to making every song sound right. 

There’s no rules to our songwriting, but after five years I would say that’s my current assessment of what we all do best. 

Photo: Calla Flanagan / Clarion Call Media

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