Yarn, the New York City-based band playing Friday night at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre, has made a remarkable ascent within the music world during its relatively short time as an Americana act. Upon being congratulated on their ability to quickly build a following in the Triangle, lead singer Blake Christiana quickly points out that there is always room for improvement.
“We’re not really filling the Lincoln, yet; we’re bringing in between 300 to 400, so we’ve still got a ways to go,” Christiana says. “I didn’t even know for sure if we were going to get venues to book us when the band first started, because you really don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s such a tricky business. We still feel lucky that we’re able to do this.”
Local fans consider themselves the lucky ones; in just a handful of years, Yarn has become a mainstay among area alt-country devotees. It’s a genre of music that geographically would seem an odd fit for the band, but Christiana doesn’t shy away from his country-and-western influences.
“I love old country music; new country is a little more hard to swallow, so I don’t really listen to it,” he says. “I don’t know if I’d call what we do more genuine, but I’m glad that people like it.”
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Listening to Yarn’s songs, one influence is clear: Gram Parsons. The late singer-songwriter’s presence can be felt throughout the band’s catalog of melancholic music, and Christiana doesn’t avoid the comparison.
“Right around the time that I first started writing material for Yarn, I bought a CD that had two Gram albums on it,” he says. “I believe it was ‘GP’ and ‘Grievous Angel.’ Anyway, I just listened to them for a week straight, and it just inspired me to veer a little more country. He is definitely a reason that Yarn sounds the way it does now.”
For many years, Parsons was championed by alternative country musicians as an overlooked giant in their genre, but he has largely gone unheralded among the newer generation of performers. It’s a change that Christiana has noticed as well, but he feels there is a very simple reason for it.
“Maybe his influence just became too common,” the singer reasons. “That’s probably why I bought the record, because I kept hearing everyone talk about him. You know how the music industry is: everyone wants to be cool, to be new, to be different.”
Yarn sits on the precipice of becoming a major influence on the next generation of musicians. Already considered one of the best live acts in Americana, Christiana realizes that the band can’t rest if they hope to retain an audience.
“I’m an artist and a songwriter, and I am completely insecure about that,” he admits. “I’m not sure if that feeling ever goes away. It’s nice that people think that we’re legit, and I think we are as well. I’m proud of everything we’ve done so far, and I’m just proud of the band as a whole. It’s one of those things where you always strive to gain that acceptance, but we’re constantly striving to be bigger and better.”
Christiana’s stated goal when creating Yarn sounds simple – to somehow make a living only producing music – but it is a goal at which countless artists have failed. Having reached that goal within a relatively short time, Christiana continues to thank fans each night Yarn takes the stage, and promises to continue making it worth the audience’s time to follow the band into the future.
“We make a living as musicians, so we have found that that goal is in reach,” he says. “Now the goal is to keep that going for the rest of our lives. I’m lucky that I can pay my bills and just do this for a living, but at the same time, the road is a grueling place. Whether you are paying your bills on time or not, you’re definitely still out here suffering a little bit. The whole thing makes up for it though, you know? The fans and the friends, and just being able to hear the crowd cheer each night, it makes up for the hard times it took to get here.”
He continues, “This is a fickle business, and people move on to different bands and different music, so I guess the new goal is to just keep them interested.”
Who: Yarn, with Porch Light Apothecary
When: 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Lincoln Theatre, 126 E. Carbarrus St., Raleigh
Info: 919-821-4111 or lincolntheatre.com