Volume Seven Interview

Kris Yunker
Musician
(Organist & Keyboardist)


Wr
itten by Jon Caruso

As we continue our journey exploring the history, lore and important figures that surround this band we all love, we had the opportunity to look back at one of Goose’s formative years with Kris Yunker.

Kris is an extremely talented organist and keyboardist who has played in a variety of bands for well over a decade - including Goose: he played the keys from late-2016 to 2017 (prior to Peter Anspach joining the band.) His unique perspective provides another piece to the overall puzzle to help us fans understand the overall story and evolution of the band. In addition to talking about his time in Goose, I talk with him a little bit about his background (including his love of vintage gear) past and upcoming musical projects.

Talk to us about your musical journey up to this point: from your beginnings in Fort Wayne to today. After reading your bio on your website, I noticed that music was a prominent part of your youth - as your Mom started to teach you piano when you were four and your Dad was a jazz player. It must have been amazing having such a musical family growing up!

It was great. There was a lot of music in the house when I was growing up. My Dad listened to a lot of jazz and big band music and my Mom listened to and played a lot of Broadway show-tunes - and that had a big influence on my ears. My brother also played piano, guitar and trumpet, so music was like a second language around the house for us. I feel grateful to have grown up around that. Music has always been a pinpoint focus for my whole life.

It’s what comes the most natural and easiest to me. With that being said though it’s been a learning struggle to figure out how to make it work and survive in a capitalist-driven society. I’ve had to have various side hustles over the years, but my passion for music has always stayed strong. I’m finally to the point where music is my full time gig. It’s been quite a journey with some fantastic moments.

Another thing that really stood out in my research was that you work on vintage keyboards in your spare time, in addition to providing music lessons. Would you say that these are inspired by your musical journey as a whole so far, especially when taking into account your childhood and fascination for vintage gear?

I got inspired to work on vintage gear out of the necessity of keeping the instruments working. It started off with a Fender Rhodes, which my brother gave to me when I was in high school. It needed repair and I didn’t know anyone in the area who could do that - nor did I have a budget for that - so I just went on the internet and found The Rhodes Super Site by James Garfield (www.fenderrhodes.com) and taught myself. I took it apart, put it back together again, and then it just continued from there with every instrument I picked up after that.

Part of the reason I’m so drawn to these instruments is because they’re living and breathing. Like an old car, you can get into them and fix them - and there are physical parts that are working together to make the sound. It provides a deeper connection to the instrument for me when I play it.

How did your paths cross with Goose? From your bio, it looks like you toured with them for a year in 2017. Do you have any stories that you can share?

I got a call from Rick - I’d never met him before - he told me he’d seen my play at a funk night at BRYAC, that he was really into my playing and asked if I wanted to join Goose at the time. It sounded like a lot of fun - I was in between gigs and going through a divorce - so I was ready for a change. Once I met the guys and played music with them, I quickly realized they were really great people. They were very talented and going somewhere. I was excited to play with them. I had a lot of fun with those guys and I miss it. I remember Rick caring a lot about the vocals. We used to do vocal exercises on the way to gigs. I loved how seriously he took the music.

They had this interesting obsession with a bunch of actors, one of them in particular was Kevin Costner. We played a Halloween show where we each dressed up as a Kevin Costner character - except for Ben who really wanted to be a lobster. That was pretty ridiculous. I remember having a lot of fun building out the bunks in the trailer with my girlfriend, Kelly. I often wonder if they’re still there or what they’re used for at this point.

Other than Goose, what other bands and/or projects have you been involved with? Are there any current projects you’re really excited about that you’re willing to share with us?

I just had a couple of releases: one was under my name called “To Be Fair” and it features Karl Denson, Alan Evans, Will Bernard, Mike Dillon, Brian Thomas and Alex Lee-Clark. The other is “Bounce House” by my main band, On The Spot Trio with Danny Mayer (Star Kitchen), which has been together since 2006. It’s gone through various drummers over the years, and our newest drummer, Andrew Klein from Big Mean Sound Machine has been an amazing new addition. It feels like the band is firing on all cylinders and going in new directions.

In addition, moving to Brattleboro has brought me closer to Alan Evans (Soulive) at Iron Wax Studios and we’ve been working on multiple projects, including a new album for our band The 7 Day Weekend. It’s a good mix of synth-driven, laid-back beats with a few tracks that have guest singers. I’m really excited for people to hear this album - it’s like nothing I’ve done before. I’ve also recently subbed with Soulive and George Porter Jr. at Bowlive, and The Machine (Pink Floyd). I also get called for a variety of gigs with Glen Andrews, Cappadonna (Wu-Tang) with the Sensi Allstar Live Band, The Garcia Project, Drew Angus, Fuzz (Deep Banana) On It, Molly Es and more.


Thank you so much for your time and we look forward to all of your future projects. Tedheads: visit Kris Yunker’s website to learn more about his projects, schedule a lesson and more!


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