There’s a neat duality to Jersey rocker Pete Yorn’s latest tour, which makes a stop on Sunday in Oklahoma City. As is standard, the tour is in support of an album, but in Yorn’s case, it’s two: last year’s self-titled release and a reissue of “musicforthemorningafter,” the debut that led him to this point.
The reissue coincides with the record’s 10th anniversary; buoyed by the breakout single, “Life on a Chain,” it launched his career. These unique circumstances aren’t lost on Yorn, who’s enjoyed his time living in the past and present on this tour.
“It’s always interesting to take stock and remember some things you probably forgot. I was super-blessed to have that record and all that it’s allowed me to do,” he said. “At the same time, it just gets me excited for the future.”
Performing songs from “musicforthemorningafter,” many of which haven’t been played in years, brings him back to the time right after he inked a deal with Columbia to release it, kind of doubting anything would come afterward, and certainly not expecting that it would ultimately take him to working with producer Rick Rubin, Pixies’ Frank Black and actress Scarlett Johansson.
“It was exciting then, my first record deal. Me and my partner just recorded it in a garage,” Yorn said. “I knew it was a tough business. Had a lot of friends who had made good albums, released them and gotten dropped a few months later. I didn’t have many expectations — just in the moment, seeing where it would take me.”
There was an inkling that he was on to something special; he and his recording partner spent hours perfecting each song. “As hard as it was on us, it was kind of effortless … two mad scientists messing around, trying to create stuff we loved,” he said. “I’ll never forgot those feelings: Sometimes we didn’t even know what it was, but we felt like we were on to something.”
Sometimes I feel like I haven’t learned anything.
On his recent fifth album proper, he tried to recapture some of that mystique and youth, by getting back to the simplicity of those early days.
“This record came from an urge to capture something really fast and not fussy, with all the loose, ragged edges hanging over,” Yorn said. “It was freeing to not work so long on a record. We did it so fast that we couldn’t lose perspective.”
The approach worked; Yorn has received some of his best reviews since his debut. Serendipitously, he’s looking at a view quite similar to the one he saw a decade ago.
“Sometimes I feel like I’ve learned a lot. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t learned anything. Sometimes I’ve had to drop all that I’ve learned to get back to that simpler place,” he said. “But I just focus on doing what I do. It’s wild. I just want to stay open, because I feel like the best days are still ahead.”