UT band Yardsale! releases debut single

Ikram Mohamed, Life & Arts Senior Reporter

September of 2021, after playing the chorus of “San Francisco Way” for the fourth time, lead singer Nathaniel Ogren looked nervously over at his bandmates as they tried to entertain a ten-person audience at Smokin Beauty, a barbecue place in Austin. 

A month later, Yardsale! stood in a backyard in North Campus debuting their single “Stranger” to a crowd of almost 100 people. 

“It doesn’t feel real to have people … singing along with (our) songs,” sociology sophomore Ogren said. “Hearing your lyrics sung back to you is a bizarre experience, but in the coolest way.”

After almost a month of casually playing music at bassist Zach Russell and drummer Alex Meeler’s apartment, the five UT students lived out their collective dream of forming a band. The band describes its first single as indie pop rock, but the group likes to add in influences from different genres when they play live, making every show unique.  

Primarily live performers, Yardsale!’s members fill their shows with covers ranging from ‘Love Story’ by Taylor Swift to ‘Beastly’ by Vulfpeck. On Oct.15, they added their first-ever original song, ‘Stranger,’ to their setlist.

“The first recording of (‘Stranger’) is me, on vacation with a crappy acoustic guitar,” Ogren said. “(The song) was basically done before I met these guys. It’s a little bit of a transition between stuff under my own name and Yardsale!”

When first producing the single, Ogren said they created 16 different versions of the song before he said it sounded “right.” When they perform the single live, it continues to change as band members incorporate their own music styles within each live performance. 

“When we first learned to play these songs, we’d never heard them before,” Meeler, an electrical engineering sophomore, said. “All the stuff we’re playing is us putting all of our own feelings on top of the songs, so even though it’s nice that it’s (Nathaniel’s song) we also got to put ourselves into the (song).”

Meeler said the band performs purely for love and fun, and their love for music directly influences the chemistry of the band and how well they play together.

“Finding a group of people who are so passionate about music and so driven to get these songs out there and play them for people is a dream come true,” Russell, a computer science sophomore, said. “It’s (an) amazing feeling sharing that love of music with people.”

Currently, the band works on completing and releasing singles, but meanwhile, they hope to maintain their main goal of performing live on stage as often as possible.

“The reason I’m part of this band … is because I love it and I love making sound,” Russell said. “It’s something I care about deeply and I’m just gonna go wherever it takes me.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said Yardsale! describes its first single as indie punk rock. The story has since been corrected to say the band describes its first single as indie pop rock. An earlier version of this story also misidentified Zach Russell as an electrical engineering sophomore. The story has since been corrected to identify Russell as a computer science sophomore. The Texan regrets these errors.