It’s not a reach to say Yashira are Jacksonville’s next up-and-coming metal band. Dylan Mikos (guitar), Connor Anderson (guitar), Luke Barber (bass) and Seth Howard (Drums), with the first three splitting vocals, have gradually carved Yashira’s name into the Florida metal scene in their one-and-a-half years in existence. In November, they released a two-song demo titled, We Find Ourselves in the Grief of Others. After touring the East Coast this summer, they won a contest to record two songs at Converse’s studio contest. I caught up with Dylan, Connor and Luke at the Town Center Starbucks to talk influences, the processes behind the music and the band’s expectations.
What’s the band’s Peter Parker origin story?
Luke: He [Connor] was in a band with our drummer. They were awesome then they stopped playing and this dude [Dylan] we were in a different band. We stopped playing recently and then we thought we might as well start playing with these guys because they write awesome music. I actually wasn’t in the band at first.
Dylan: You played at the second practice.
Dylan: And I knew as soon as we started to jam, Luke’s the bass player.
Luke: I was still dealing with that other band, which was a disaster. I like didn’t even want to be in a band at first, but then it was like actually I do. We just merged the two bands basically.
I like that aspect, as far as bands go, when they fracture and form new bands.
Dylan: The formation of this band seemed to be the most natural and well-working band I’ve ever been a part of.
Connor: Yeah. It’s like it was planned, but it wasn’t. It was really weird. It was formed in the summer too, we had the pace we wanted to go, we didn’t want to sit around obviously, but we didn’t want to sit around too much either. We kind of just carried along with the songs as we wrote them. After we had two songs it was like ‘let’s record let’s play shows.’
Dylan: We played our first show with two songs.
Connor: It took 16 minutes or so, but it definitely worked out. The reception was crazy. It’s built up with the feedback we’ve gotten to. It’s imaging where we’re going to be at. Right now, it feels like we’re rolling up and up.
Is it different from other bands you’ve been in?
Connor: I was in a band with Seth called Nisroch for three years. It was cool, fun and it felt like we did a lot but it wasn’t really a broad picture. It was very much, ‘Let’s play a show in Jacksonville,’ and that’s it. It didn’t feel like it was accomplishing or aspiring for more. That always got to me.
What can you tell me about Seth?
Connor: He’s sporadic and goofy, and we wouldn’t have him any other way. He’s not necessarily the foundation but kind of like the glue.
Dylan: We’re really lucky to be able to work with him. Me and him and Luke had been in a band previously. Seth and Connor had been in a band previously. Me and him and Luke were in a band called Modern Art, and him and Connor were in a group called Nisroch.
You form in the summer of 2015 and start recording in October and your first EP drops in November. Things started clicking right away?
Luke: Yeah everything did happen really fast, now we’re going up to Brooklyn to record. It’s just crazy. A little overwhelming, but not in a bad way.
How did you guys get involved in the competition with Converse and Metal Sucks?
Dylan: Our friend texted me and Luke a screenshot of the competition where Converse was offering their studio, with two producers and you get to pick which one. We applied and we were picked by Will Putney. I was actually on tour with this band called Rhythm of Fear. While I was on that tour, I read this email from Converse and Metal Sucks, and I didn’t think it was real. It was late on a Friday so we thought we like missed the opportunity.
Luke: We had to wait the entire weekend to find out.
Dylan: It was a three-day weekend, it was Labor day. We had to wait until Tuesday before they even told us that we got it.
Connor: It was scary.
Luke: It was funny because we had just started recording in Gainesville.
Dylan: I had literally just set up my amp.
Do you guys have a plan of what you’re going to do up there?
Connor: We think we’ll do two live songs but other than that, I don’t know any details of what they’ll tell us to do. We’ll probably record vocals separately or solos maybe.
Luke: We’ve never really done anything like that.
Connor: In a pro studio, yeah.
Dylan: He [Will Putney] is a very, very notable name. I’m kind of going to let him grab the reins.
What else do you know about Will Putney?
Dylan: As far as Will Putney goes, he has recorded many, many renowned bands. He just did a record for Gojira called Magma. He did the newest Everytime I Die record, that actually comes out tomorrow, he’s worked with Acacia Strain, Misery Signals.
Do you know what the final product from the contest is going to be?
Dylan: It seems to be very vague. I’m not really sure what’s going to happen from here. But it’s a huge stepping stone for our record that we’re about to record out on a label and tour extensively whenever we can.
Luke: We’re pretty much doing this to build our resume. We’re going to pay for food and stuff but I think it’s going to be worth it.
Connor: It’s an investment of I don’t even know how invaluable. The opportunity’s just there.
Luke: And with Converse promoting our stuff afterwards, there doing photo and video. All of that stuff is really going to benefit us.
Dylan: Metal Sucks and Metal Injection, both of those sites are going to be covering it. They’re really notable in our world, our demographic.
Connor: It’s like the professional metal websites. They always have bands that are worthy or unknown even.
What’s the uncertainty or thrill of jumping headfirst into the music industry?
Dylan: The uncertainty is for real.
Luke: It’s funny because you learn a lot about yourself and the people you’re working with. Like it’s the best way to do, just jump right in and f***ing make it happen. You learn a bunch, it’s good and bad.
I saw that Facebook post about your earnings on Spotify where you had $0.45 on there.
Luke: Yeah we’re freakin’ rolling in it.
I want to get in on the record that Yashira is in this for the money.
Connor: Oh yeah.
Dylan: For sure.
Luke: Definitely. Honestly, money would be nice.
Dylan: It would be. Honestly, we’d be happy with a little bit of money. Touring is expensive. Our first tour that we did was really up in the air. It got booked like a month before we left. It wasn’t the best route to take.
Luke: We got really lucky actually. We had two or three shows fell through out of the 10 that were planned. We actually came up in the green.
Dylan: We did really well in merch sales.
Connor: I think that was a telltale sign kind of, we’re definitely doing it for ourselves, but it feels like we’re doing something and people want to come back.
Luke: Having people recognize it [the band] and support. It’s really the coolest thing in the world.
Dylan: That’s a lot of payoff right there.
I noticed you guys have a decent presence on social media.
Luke: [points at Connor] It mostly me and him. Our drummer definitely does not do it.
Connor: He sends us f***ing comment videos, like “World’s Dumbest Person.”
I like that promotional aspect though.
Dylan: The merch is a big thing. We said from the get-go that was kind of mandatory. You go to a show and you see a bunch of local bands and you see their one shirt, which isn’t bad they’re doing their thing. But it doesn’t really catch your eye as having seven to pick from.
Luke: You present a wide option of shirts, then you put on a good show and people come to your merch table like, “Oh you have so much s**t to sell.”
Connor: I think it’s necessary even though it’s not. People will buy it if they want it. It’s more of making it to have it, like our vinyls. We didn’t need it necessarily, and people didn’t have to buy one. Letting people pick and choose is always better.
Dylan: Thinking about the merch, I’m thinking about the record that was put out by Southern Druid. The way they approached us about it honestly helped us build so much momentum for this band, it’s not even funny. It put us five steps ahead of where we were, because that label had a lot of faith in us. They still do, and we really thank them for that.
Luke: Give the fans what they want. I always see people wearing our shirts.
Dylan: I think they’re very catchy designs. They’re not weak.
Connor: There’s definitely color in there too. We’re not a black and white death metal merch band.
Where every song is about Satan?
Luke: Surprisingly, zero of our songs are about Satan.
Dylan: So far.
I know it’s a cliche, but you’ve got to do at least one of them.
Dylan: Yeah we have to for sure. We do twirl our hair though.
Luke: And we have drums. Satan’s instrument or whatever.
What’s the biggest show you’ve played?
Luke: Probably with Crow Bar and High on Fire [at Underbelly]. We played with Code Orange [in Savannah] that was pretty big. The show with Code Orange was one of biggest shows that we’ve played, but it was also one of the worst.
Dylan: It was the gear. His pedal board went out, my amp blew up on the last song.
Connor: It was one thing after another.
Luke: I was having a great time.
Connor: He could’ve started moshing.
Luke: Ok. So, I was in a band in 2010 or 2011 when this happened. We had three guitar players. One of our guitarists’ amps blew up while we were playing. Being a 15-year-old or whatever, he thought it was a good idea to put his guitar down and start moshing on stage while we still playing
Dylan: Me and Luke weren’t in a band yet. I remember watching that show from the side stage, just being amazed.
Luke: That was like the third or fourth show that I ever played. Fun times.
Dylan: We all came from somewhere.
Do you guys have a memorable moment from tour this summer?
Luke: We were in New York City, we weren’t doing shows there, we were visiting. There was this huge bus decked out with weed stencils on the side.
Connor: It was like a weed ice cream truck.
Dylan: It was called “Weed World.” How could a f***ing van drive around with all that?
Connor: We saw it stopped. And we ran over to it.
Dylan: I ate three lollipops and I felt nothing, but I kept psyching myself out.
What about Philly?
Luke: Philly was awesome. Great murals. Great food.
Dylan: We went to this place called Little Nicki’s. I pulled out my wallet to pay and I left it on the counter for a second to get the money out and they go, “You better put that wallet away. Somebody will walk in that door and snatch your damn wallet.”
Luke: I’m trying to think of other memorable moments from the tour.
Dylan: There was the fight in Charlotte.
Which is kind of in ruins right now.
Luke: People in North Carolina are fricken aggro dude. Straight up, and South Carolina too, they’re just angry people dude, cool with being violent. There was a small scuffle and this guy got handled when he was being a jerk that’s the end of that.
How do you guys feel about people moshing at your shows?
Luke: We assure people before we play we’re not really a mosh band or anything. Everyone can come up to the front and enjoy themselves.
Like Joyce Manor?
Connor: They’re totally against it.
Luke: If people do it, we’re not going to stop them. People do it all the time. I always give people that do that a dirty look from the stage, like you guys are whack.
Dylan: It really draws focus to them rather than what we’re playing. We feel like we’ve worked hard enough on these songs to earn your attention for 30 minutes. When people start hitting each other and and hitting people that literally have nothing to do with that, it’s very annoying.
Connor: Yeah. Because we’ve been there.
Dylan: It takes a lot away from the performance.
Luke: We play a lot of small venues, so when people do mosh, it’s detrimental to people around them. Yeah. It kind of sucks, nine out of 10 times that stuff is uncalled for.
What’s your favorite venue to play in Jacksonville?
Dylan: Of what’s left?
I know you guys played at Burro Bar, rest in peace.
Dylan: Burro Bar right?
Connor: Burro was it man.
Luke: When we play Nighthawks that’s going to be my favorite.
Connor: That’s a new venue, that should be a lot of fun. I think Rain Dogs is good.
Dylan: We like Rain Dogs, Rain Dogs likes us. That’s a really good relationship, we feel we have. The guy who works at Southern Druid works there also.
We can kind of segue into your influences as a band?
Luke: I listen to a lot of different stuff. I’m a big classic rock fan. I love Alice in Chains. I wouldn’t say they’re huge influence here. For me personally, Paul McCartney dude. Steely Dan, Pink Floyd–
Dylan: Pink Floyd are a huge influence when we try to capture that spacey aspect.
Luke: Yeah. There’s Queens of the Stone Age, they’re my favorite band. Of course, I listen to a lot of metal. The influences are definitely wide ranging, like Nas the rapper.
I f***ing love Nas. I like how your influences are so different.
Dylan: I really think all those influences combine to create this drive inside you.
What about you Connor?
One of my biggest earliest influences was Converge. Around that time Mastodon got me into a lot of bands. And then bands like Isis–
Luke: Whoa whoa whoa.
Connor: The band.
Luke: They’re an older band, and they had to say something on their Facebook.
Connor: I like other bands like Opeth and Sumac.
Like Behemoth? That’s like the only death metal band I know.
Connor: Yeah. Bands like Behemoth, Archenemy. Now, I’m more into progressive sludge.
Dylan: Now that I think about it, we have referenced Behemoth so many times in the studio.
What do you like about Behemoth?
Connor: They are the definition of going all out. Technically too. The drummer and bassist they are legendary. Nergal, his lyrics are crazy. He’s crazy. I think a lot like “I want to scream like that.”
Behemoth wear a lot of eyeliner and makeup.
Dylan: Facepaint and armor too. They wear wigs.
Connor: We will probably never do that.
It seems like an old-fashioned thing.
Connor: Yeah. That’s their niche.
Dylan: That’s their demographic, too.
Luke: Our volume is our facepaint, that’s our gimmick.
Dylan: We literally turn our amps as high as they can possibly go. I can’t even count how many people have come up to us and said you guys are too loud.
Connor: They’ll say, “You’re so good, but it’s too loud.”
Dylan: We warn them every single time, bring earplugs.
Luke: It’s important, we’re not trying to hurt them.
Connor: They’re here to watch us. Be prepared.
We’ll finish the influences thought. Dylan?
Dylan: It’s Neurosis 100 percent. I’m obsessed with that band. The way that they’ve turned their music into an art. They don’t do it like anybody else ever did it. They don’t write it like anybody else ever wrote it. They’re really ground-breaking. I can only wish to be in a band like that does something so original. They focus on sound, and the way that it hits you, the way that it makes you feel, rather than how cool a riff is. It’s a collective of all five members of that band creating something so monstrous, it literally to this day hasn’t been topped.
Luke: They’re the most organic band I can think of.
Connor: I feel like their songs are alive. It’s not like you’re hearing voices in your head, but you seriously start nodding with the music.
Dylan: They know exactly what they want, exactly what they’re going for. I like listening to spacier bands like Cult of Luna, Amenra and Sinestro. Bands that can make it sound big, but make it still sound clear, good and professional overall.
I’m wondering about how you said Neurosis is organic. Because pretty much everything’s been done. What are you guys trying to do differently?
Luke: Honestly we’re not trying to do anything differently. It’s just the way that we all think and everything we’re influenced from, not even musically but from the world. It creates a different effect. The result is always different from what I originally intend. When you have an idea with your band it goes through a filter basically.
Four different filters.
Luke: Yeah. All four of us we’re pretty good filters of what sounds good and natural.
Dylan: For the most part, we know what we want.
Luke: There’s not an active attempt to be outside of the box. We try not to write breakdowns.
Dylan: We don’t focus on any of those things. Or any gimmicks. We just play it and we think how we can make it better. A lot of riffs are just us fiddling around with our guitars.
Connor: It will only take like five minutes, and it’s like, ‘we have a riff.’
Dylan: And that’s it.
Connor: Then we put it with the other parts, and it’s like, ‘alright, we can do something with that.’
You published the demo on vinyl. How weird is it to hold your music in your hands?
Dylan: It makes me smile thinking about the first time I held a test press.
Luke: It’s a crazy feeling. I never thought I would have it.
Connor: It feels like a gift. We got those in May, it was trippy, right before we went on tour. We want to grow to other formats with Southern Druid or another label maybe.
Dylan: That’s our first medium.
Luke: It’s a piece of art. You’ve seen the “Sun Girl” on the front. He [Connor] designed it all.
Connor: We’ve had people buy our record and say, “My wife is playing your pretty record.” Stuff like that.
Luke: This dude from Macon, Georgia told us that. “I got your record, my wife calls it the pretty record.”
Dylan: That guy was so nice.
I’m thinking about metal in the South. You think of the South and you think of racism and other ugly (stereotypical) s**t.
Connor: Pretty much.
Luke: Actually, the metal community is so friendly dude. Everywhere, man.
As far as the metal scene in Jacksonville, I know it’s not Seattle 1991, but what do you think it’s like?
Connor: It feels like there’s a good mix of culture, even though there’s a lot of people who have always lived here. I think the whole mix of people is interesting. I wouldn’t say the metal community stands out. It has its stragglers, its assholes whatever. I think being open and inclusive is important. Hardcore and punk bands also integrate into it. I don’t know if it’s the same in other cities, but I think it leans that way here a little more.
Luke: What you get in Jacksonville is a bunch of people who like music, who may not necessarily like metal but they’ll still go to shows I wish their were more dedicated metal fans though.
Connor: I agree. They’re not as active.
Dylan: Metal in Jacksonville has almost no weight compared to the hardcore scene.
Do you think metal has an accessibility problem?
Dylan: Aw man.
Connor: That’s tough.
Why aren’t soccer moms listening to metal?
Luke: That’s a good question. They’re not cultured enough?
I mean we’re in the yuppy capital of Jacksonville.
Dylan: (Looks around) Let’s just ask.
Luke: Let’s just go in and out of stores in the Town Center.
Are there any other metal bands in Jacksonville?
Luke: There are, but not like us really.
Luke: Rhythm of Fear, they are a metal band, who’s killing it, but we’re nothing like each other. We play with each other all the time.
Dylan: They’re a thrash metal band, [like] Megadeth, Testament, Slayer, all that stuff.
Luke: They’re super badass. And yeah, it seems like we’re the two metal metal bands.
Dylan: We play with the same bands almost every time, which is kind of disheartening. We all have a friend in all those bands.
Luke: We’ve got the community aspect. It makes people want to come and play here. We’re friends with a lot of regional bands and our friend at Southern Druid, Cliff, just sets up a show. You meet a lot people that way.
Can you talk about the name a little bit? “Yashira” is Japanese for wealthy, I think.
Connor: Yeah. Something like that.
Dylan: We did not know any of that until we came up we that word man. We came up with the word “Nashira.” It was the name of a star. A star in the vast universe.
Luke: We were literally spitballing. What were some of the other ones we had? They were probably really bad though.
Dylan: Seriously though with “Nashira.” We were thrown off by the ‘n.’ It does not go any deeper than that. The word with a ‘y’ felt looked and sounded better. We’ve been asked so many times.
Luke: We literally have to start making s**t up. It’s super funny because this girl hit us up on Facebook and asked about the name. We told her the same thing I just told you. She’s like, my name is Yashira and she lives in Jacksonville.
Dylan: It’s a very common Middle-Eastern female name.
I guess we can end on the seven-song album you teased on Facebook. What’s the status of that?
Luke: It’s pretty up in the air right now.
Connor: Because we’re going to Brooklyn that might influence what we do. We’ll see, but it’ll definitely be seven or eight songs.
Luke: This whole Brooklyn thing …
Dylan: It’s kind of put a wrench in the works. It’s definitely not dampening it. But it’s a new direction of what we were going to do.
Luke: Especially when we see how the songs we put out from Brooklyn are going to be received. We’re doing two for sure. One new song and one of the songs on the demo.
Dylan: We really have to see what door that opens for us. It could potentially do a lot, like a label. Giving us a legit budget. Giving us more time to write and record.
Luke: When the album comes out, it’s going to be well-thought out and it’s gonna be good. That’s all I can say about of the album for sure right now.
Dylan: We’re like two-fifths done.
Luke: We’ll just see what happens after Brooklyn.
Yashira’s next show is Oct. 5 at Nighthawks.