Born on July 27, 1974, in New Jersey. Education: Graduated from Syracuse University, 1996. Addresses: Record companies--Sony Music, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022, website: http://www.columbiarecords.com; Trampoline Records, 8581 Santa Monica Blvd., #511, West Hollywood, CA 90069, website: http://www.trampolinerecords.com. Website--Pete Yorn Official Website: http://www.peteyorn.com.
American singer-songwriter Pete Yorn has released two acclaimed albums that are a mix of rock, pop, and folk. He came to the attention of the listening public from his work on the soundtrack for the Farrelly Brothers' movie Me, Myself & Irene.
Yorn grew up in New Jersey. His father worked as a dentist, while his mother taught emotionally disturbed children. Yorn's two older brothers, Rick and Kevin, played in various bands and helped their younger brother become interested in music as well. Yorn started playing the drums with Rick's help before he reached the age of ten.
Yorn began singing and songwriting while still in high school. His acknowledged musical influences tend to be British groups, including such artists such as T. Rex, the Cure, and the Smiths. It was through his admiration for Teenage Fanclub that he became aware of groups that inspired them, namely Big Star and Badfinger.
"Growing up in Jersey, all that you could do in my town was drink beer in the woods, hang out at a friend's house and smoke weed, or hang out at the 7-Eleven and look for trouble or whatever," Yorn told MTV.com in a 2003 interview.
Yorn graduated from Montville High School in 1990, after which he enrolled at Syracuse University. He had become serious about his songwriting, which prompted him to learn to play guitar. His father wanted him to become a tax attorney. Yorn had different ideas.
He migrated to Los Angeles after graduation in 1996. Both his brothers were now living in the area and enjoying successful careers. Rick Yorn was managing the careers of actors, including Cameron Diaz; Kevin Yorn had become an entertainment attorney. Pete began performing on the club circuit at places such as Dragonfly and Highland Grounds and was a favorite staple at Café Largo in West Hollywood. The nightclub is well known for fostering up-and-coming singer-songwriters; alumni include Elliott Smith and Grant Lee Phillips.
"He had an intensity and a [no-nonsense] style that made people drawn to him," Mark Flanagan, the owner of Café Largo, told the Los Angeles Times. "He took over Tuesday nights when Aimee Mann went into the studio, and I knew he really had something when he was able to win over her crowd."
Yorn took time off from performing to concentrate on honing his songwriting skills. This attention paid off when, later that year, an impromptu acoustic performance of "Life on a Chain" attracted a record executive's attention, resulting in a contract with Columbia Records.
Before his debut recording was released, Yorn found Hollywood calling. His music was first heard in Me, Myself & Irene (2000), to which he contributed the single "Strange Condition." On the strength of that submission, Yorn was asked to write the score for the film as well.
Tracks by Yorn have also been featured on the television drama Dawson's Creek and its subsequent CD compilation. He continued to work on film music as a composer and producer. Among the other film soundtracks to which Yorn has contributed are Bandits and Orange County, both in 2001. His "Undercover" single from the Spider-Man soundtrack became an unexpected hit upon its release. He told MTV.com the song was recorded off-the-cuff: "I was really inebriated one night with my friend Ken Andrews, who produced 'For Nancy.' I was at his house and said [in a mumbling drunk voice], 'Let's go do a song.'"
Musicforthemorningafter was released in March of 2001 to a primed public. Yorn's debut went gold with hits on the alternative charts including "Strange Condition," "Life on a Chain," and "For Nancy." The Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service said the album's success was due to "Yorn's husky voice and the rare appeal of his tunes." Some suggested that Yorn's success was attributable to him riding the coattails of his brothers. In fact, he performed for more than four years in clubs before landing his contract.
"Once people get a load of this debut CD from Pete Yorn, the California-via-Jersey songwriter will have far better quotes to put next to his name than 'as heard on the Me, Myself & Irene soundtrack and Songs from Dawson's Creek, Vol. 2.,'" wrote Steve Ciabattoni in CMJ.com in 2001. The publication ultimately deemed the album among the year's 30 best releases and compared Yorn's sound to that of Bruce Springsteen, Pavement, and the Pixies. "Yorn shows a ... rare knack for writing radio-friendly tunes that have their boots dug deep into blue-collar folk-rock."
In April of 2002, Columbia executives had him work on a new version of Musicforthemorningafter that included several bonus tracks, covers of tunes Yorn frequently performed live. These included Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" and "New York City Serenade," The Smiths' "Panic," and David Bowie's "China Girl." The recording session reportedly lasted about six hours. That same year, Yorn became a partner in Trampoline Records.
Although he started out as a drummer, Yorn plays most of the instruments on his recordings. "The songwriter explains that playing solo allows him to be more spontaneous, laying down songs as they come, rather than going through the extra step of teaching somebody else how to play them," wrote the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. He has employed a variety of novel instruments, including harmonium and toy glockenspiel. While on tour, he performs with Dirty Bird, a band that includes Luke Adams on drums, Terry Borden on bass, Jason Johnson on guitar, and Joe Kennedy playing both piano and guitar.
With 2003's Day I Forgot, Yorn said in his press materials, "I wanted to get back to a straight-up rock sound, and let the vocal melodies and songs speak for themselves." His sophomore album debuted on the charts at number 18 when it was released in April of 2003.
Since moving to Los Angeles, Yorn has been romantically linked with such actresses as Minnie Driver and Winona Ryder. At a trendy night spot in 2002, Us magazine reported a flirtation between Yorn and actress Heather Graham. Los Angeles Times contributor Lina Lecaro says the romantic gossip "wasn't all that surprising, what with the tender troubadour's grungy good looks and his album's blend of rugged crooning, dreamy atmosphere and swoon-worthy sentiments."
Yorn has said he hopes never to take his success for granted. "I remember saying, all I ever wanted was to not have to pack up my own gear after a show and schlep it around in the truck," he said in publicity materials. "I'll never forget the first day we got a tour bus. To this day, whenever the bus pulls up, I get out the camera and take pictures in front of it. I still haven't gotten over the thrill of it yet."
"I see so many performers and people in bands get jaded. They just can't find happiness because they get too caught up in the business end of things," Yorn said in publicity material accompanying Day I Forgot. "I just want to keep it pure, make it about the music. And continue to experience those pure, fleeting moments."
by Linda Dailey Paulson
Pete Yorn's Career
Began writing songs and playing drums, 1996; moved to Los Angeles, 2000; began playing club circuit; contributed to soundtrack, wrote score for Me, Myself & Irene, 2000; released Musicforthemorningafter, 2001; became partner in Trampoline Records, 2002; released Day I Forgot, 2003.
- Selected discography
- (Contributor) Me, Myself & Irene (soundtrack), Elektra/Asylum, 2000.
- (Contributor) Songs from Dawson's Creek, Vol. 2 Columbia, 2000.
- (Contributor) Bandits (soundtrack), Sony, 2001.
- Musicforthemorningafter Columbia, 2001; reissued with bonus material, 2002.
- (Contributor) Orange County (soundtrack), Sony, 2001.
- (Contributor) Spider-Man (soundtrack), Columbia, 2002.
- (Contributor) Trampoline Records Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 (compilation), Trampoline, 2002.
- (Contributor) Cheap Date (compilation), Columbia, 2003.
- Day I Forgot Columbia, 2003.
- Associated Press News Wire, July 25, 2003.
- Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2003.
- Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, April 2, 2003.
- Us, March 11, 2002.
- "After Morningafter, Two More Albums from Pete Yorn," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1453714/20020501/story.jhtml (August 23, 2003).
- "The Best of 2001: Pete Yorn: Musicforthemorningafter," CMJ.com, http://cmj.com/2001top30/ (August 23, 2003).
- "Pete Yorn," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusicguide.com (August 21, 2003).
- Pete Yorn Official Website, http://www.peteyorn.com (August 25, 2003).
- "Pete Yorn Stops to Smell the 7-Eleven Microwave Burritos," MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1471264/20030415/story.jhtml (August, 23, 2003).
- Additional information was obtained from Columbia Records publicity materials, 2003.