“I think breakfast in Japan is where I belong”
I first met Parquet Courts’ bassist Sean Yeaton six years ago, when we both worked at Vice. Sean was an editor at Motherboard, a tech site; I knew he was also in a band, but so were a lot of weekend warrior-types, and I didn’t give it much thought. Then one day I saw Sean’s grinning face on the top of Pitchfork, and I realized Sean was in a real band that people actually listen to. Soon, Sean quit Vice and Parquet Courts started living the rock ’n’ roll dream, releasing a string of critically acclaimed albums, and touring around the world. I caught up with Sean last week while the band was in San Francisco. We spoke about quitting veganism, 4 a.m. sushi, and the grossness of ketchup.
Extra Crispy: It’s 12:15 in the afternoon. What’d you have for breakfast today?
Sean Yeaton: I haven’t had breakfast yet, but I’m about to start standing in line for a famous bánh mì sandwich here on Larkin Street in the Tenderloin at Saigon Sandwich.
Do you often not eat breakfast? That’s kind of lunch.
I guess it’s kind of a relative term. I am breaking my fast with this sandwich, so by definition it’s breakfast. It maybe doesn’t fall in the category of breakfast food items. It depends on what the schedule is like. Today is pretty laid back; we’re already in the city where we’re going to be playing so we have a little more time to walk around. Sometimes we have to wake up for a super early flight, and then breakfast comes in the form of coffee and a cigarette. It varies quite regularly.
I was talking to Andrew [Savage, Parquet Courts singer/guitarist,] about it and we have this thing called Airport Rules: If you go to an airport you can eat whatever you want and it doesn’t count toward your diet. If you eat a shitty chicken strip at JFK and you land in Austin and have the Salt Lick from the airport, it doesn’t really count because there’s like a rip in the time space continuum that allows for it to happen.
Do you find yourself having a lot of gas station breakfasts?
Oh my god yeah, story of my life. If I’m not on tour and I go into a gas station I just feel kind of crazy.
What’s your go-to gas station food?
When I’m at the gas station usually I’ll try to chuck myself over to the mixed nuts and things of that nature. Sometimes I’ll get some beef jerky in the mix. You know, I try to keep it as healthy as I can. I’m big on the wasabi almond thing right now. And then I just need sparkling water all the time. I don’t know what it is, I just love the shit so much. It really quenches my thirst.
It feels a little more luxurious than regular water.
It’s fancy. Even when you leave like a shitty gas station you can really get the impression that you’re a special guy or gal.
I will say, when we’re on tour, I try to avoid fast food and other things like that. When I first started playing in touring bands I was vegan. I was always hitting up Whole Foods and trying to be super healthy. I kind of aged out of that. Cuisine is such a big part of different cities all over the world so you’re always wanting to try new stuff.
So when you’re on tour as a vegan, you feel like you’re missing out.
Absolutely. Yeah, there’s always some sketchy item that you need to try. When we went to Japan, I was so jet lagged that time just didn’t exist. I heard that if you go down to this Shinjuku fish market at 4 a.m. you can just get someone to chuck like a big piece of tuna fish at your face. That’s definitely like the kind of thing I’m looking for for whatever reason.
What’s the best breakfast that you’ve had on tour, besides that 4 a.m. sushi?
Yesterday was really lining up to be the best thing. You know that place in LA in Silverlake called Brite Spot? It’s like a weird mid-century modern diner with updated delicacies. The show the night before was good and we hung out with a bunch of friends and we were ready to get in the van for ten hours, so I was like, “Let me just set delicious fast-food garbage in my stomach.” So I found this thing on the menu called “Southern Decadence” that was chicken-fried chicken with gravy and cheese and chilies and a jalapeño biscuit. But then as soon as it got to the table I just started breaking out in like guilt sweat and was like, “I don’t know if I can do it, this is too much.” I tried to have a couple bites of it but I couldn’t really make it happen.
Usually I know it’s going to be a good day breakfast-wise when we hit up a Whole Foods, because everyone can find something they want. There’s a juice option, you can get coffee there, you can stock up. I mean, we all kind of have different habits of what we want or need in the morning and Whole Foods is like the best place to really explore those options for everybody. I never even really considered myself like an exceptionally breakfast-forward guy. Andrew from the band, he loves breakfast. Max is kind of your classic “chuck me a bread-based beige item and a coffee”; Austin will sometimes not have anything until like that night. Andrew and I tend to stick around the same camp, food-wise, in what we want. Which is probably why we’re the two most handsome and jacked members of the band. I don’t know if you’ve seen pictures of us recently but we’re like thickly muscled men [laughs]. It can always be a crapshoot but Whole Foods tends to be like the shoot with the least amount of crap in it.
What about weird experiences? You mentioned you haven’t eaten snake yet.
I haven’t eaten snake meat, or lizard meat at all. People in the band have. That option doesn’t really come around enough to warrant it. Andrew and I once had tequila with a cobra in it, and I guess it was late enough to call it morning, so that would fit in the breakfast category.
What do you eat at home?
At home it’s a whole other different goddamn son of a bitch, I’ll tell you. I have two kids and when I’m at home I am like a stay-at-home dad. More often than not I get home and my wife has to go to work the next day and I’m still kind of like, “I just played a show and I’ve got wasabi almonds in my body.” I can’t run to the gas station with the kids and get the same shit. They need real food and not garbageman food. I become much more cognizant of that pretty immediately. I’m big into oatmeal, or fruit of some kind, often at the same time.
Jack, my oldest, he really likes food that’s good for him, which I appreciate. I think one time we got him a Happy Meal at McDonald’s because we were stuck in crazy traffic traveling from Massachusetts to Philly, and he was like, “This is bullshit,” in baby language.
Are there any breakfast foods you hate? I won’t touch ketchup, for example.
When you brought up ketchup, I immediately had a gagging reflex. If I see a drop of ketchup even start to enter the general orbit of an egg I start to hurl in my mouth. I don’t really like to fuck with oatmeal too much. In Japan the breakfast is the best. You know when you wake up in the morning and you really just want to have your leftover takeout but you don’t want to look like a human slob at the office? In Japan, that option is available at the hotel buffet. You can just grip a chill sesame noodle as part of your breakfast. I think breakfast in Japan is where I belong.