Leeds band Yard Act reveal how they overcome nerves to play big gigs like Coachella and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

Yard Act says not thinking about the magnitude of playing bigger gigs like Coachella and The Tonight Show is an important "coping mechanism" to deliver their best performance.

By Joanna Wardill
Sunday, 24th April 2022, 11:45 am

The Leeds-based rockers say they try to "make the most" of unexpected situations and "focus on the task at hand".

Despite their debut album only having been released in January, the band has just wrapped up a slew of US tour dates which included two shows at the world-famous music festival and a special guest appearance on Jimmy Fallon's late-night programme.

"That was a buzz," frontman James Smith said about appearing on the TV show.

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Yard Act's James Smith on stage at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, in January 2022. Picture: Mark Bickerdike Photography

"You've got to make the most of those situations, you don't expect to end up in them, so when you do it's like 'cool'.

"It might be the first of many times you do it, it might be the last time so just do what you do, you have fun with it, and you take as much free stuff as you can."

Bassist Ryan Needham added: "It is f****** amazing but if you dwell on it too much it freaks you out, and it sounds like we're playing it down but it's a bit of a coping mechanism.

"It is insane, it's crazy to be able to come and do this stuff but you have to block that out a little bit and just play.

"We all sit around in a room together, whether that's on Jimmy Fallon or in a f****** practice room back in Leeds, we know how to play and that's all you can focus on in those times when you've got the adrenaline spike and you're nervous as hell.

"I'm sure in six months when we get home and sit down, that's when you go 'woah that was crazy', but when you're in it you just have to knuckle down like Blitz spirit."

"I try not to think about it, I just focus on the task ahead and just don't ever get that sense of perspective, I think it's important psychologically," said guitarist Sam Shjipstone.

"It's all really surreal," added drummer Jay Russell.

Yard Act is known for their politically charged material which often include sardonic lyrics.

But the band say that the trope of US audiences not understanding their humour or being overly earnest is false.

"That whole thing that Americans don't get irony is absolutely not true," says Needham.

"It's insulting to Americans to say they don't get it," adds Smith.

"If you've listened to more than a minute of our music, you're either on board or (you're) not."

Following a final date in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Yard Act are set to return to the UK for more shows in cities including Liverpool, Nottingham and their hometown of Leeds.

And work has already started on their second record with several songs written, though the band say they are yet to nail down a "vibe".