At first glance, it might seem like a common jam band. At first listen, though, it becomes blatantly clear that Yugen has much more to offer.
After all, its genre is described as “Psychedeliatic American Rock & Roll for funky folks” on its Facebook page.
Will Vickers, a guitarist, bassist and vocalist for the band, said Yugen has been around for years, but only recently have the members decided on a band name as the band’s popularity has grown.
“The name for the band comes from an indirect translation of a Japanese word, which has to do with enlightenment and understanding,” Vickers said. “It’s kind of silly, but it’s something which we strive for in our music, so it really does represent us.”
Vickers has been playing music for over a decade and has been in a multitude of bands. Only recently, though, has he enjoyed commercial success with Yugen.
He credited the band’s success to its particular mix of genres and technical skill.
“I played music all throughout high school, I’ve been in various bands with many different people since then,” Vickers said. “We like to hit on lots of different genres if we can. We focus on experimental rock ‘n’ roll, we like to just see where the flow takes us and not think too much about what we’re playing.”
Pat Rein is the keyboardist for the band, and he explained he’s been playing since he was a child. After taking traditional lessons for years, he’s been working solely on improvisational music.
“My mom is a piano teacher, and I’ve been playing since the second grade, so about 18 years. It was tough having my mom as a teacher. I never practiced as much as she wanted,” Rein said with a laugh. “I’m really good at improv, and I’ve actually had a couple years of lessons in improv.”
Rein said that despite playing with the same group for years, Yugen only recently created a name and an image for itself to book larger venues and gain more recognition.
Matt Lippert also plays guitar and bass, and does vocals interchangeably with Vickers. He related that Yugen is different from traditional jam bands because its “jam” aspect has largely to do with elements of jazz.
“We derive a lot of inspiration from various bands that have paved the way for us. There’s something different about our style of music, the longevity that a lot of the songs find their way into,” said Lippert. “It’s a very hybridized version of rock ‘n’ roll and improvisational jazz. It attracts a really specific style of fan that likes to make the music they love a part of their lifestyle. Our favorite part is the camaraderie between band and fans that seems to emerge in this style of music. We’ve been really well received, actually much more so than we thought we would be.”
Yugen’s next show is 9 p.m. Saturday at Scarlet and Grey Cafe, located at 2203 N. High St. Tickets are free.