“We’re The Yulelog Lumberjacks. Everybody knows we’re where it’s at. These Christmas tunes gonna take you back. We bring all our presents with a Christmas axe.”
Tis’ the season to wear flannel. If you’ve been around Nashville during the Christmas season over the last couple of years, you might have seen the magnificent Yulelog Lumberjacks assemble for a special Christmas show. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it (but you DON’T want to miss it) kind of gig. The group is made up of a bunch of great musicians that play with other bands/have solo projects going on. We’ve got Joseph LeMay on lead vocals (who has a solo project), Caleb Hickman on keys (who is also in Night Beds), Andrew Broadway on drums (who is also in Vinyl Thief), and John Ball (who has a solo project) and Nathan Spicer (who is currently touring with Katy Perry) on guitar. These dudes are busy. But are they too busy to spread Christmas cheer? Nah. After their annual show at The End, we sat down with the Christmas enthusiasts to get their take on various Nashville holiday things: from It’s A Wonderful Life to seasonal lattes to taking holiday fashion cues from local grandpas. Grab some egg nog and let’s go!
OK, question one! How did you guys come together?
Joseph: So, if my memory serves me correctly we had a Christmas party at John’s apartment in Bruin Hills (student housing at Belmont). After the party we were sitting around playing Christmas songs and talking about how awesome it would be to be in a Christmas band. I went back to my apartment and remember that I’d written a Christmas song years before, and I was like – crap, we could actually do this! I played them the song and we made a pact to play together. We played a show in the lobby of TK (also Belmont student housing – whoop) next year.
John: We talked about it over the next summer when we were home from school and I was like – dude, we should really do this. We all had a mutual love for Christmas, which sparked the idea. We have this party every year called Brother Christmas. It’s kind of super childish, like no girls allowed, and we watch Christmas movies and eat a bunch of junk and stay up till’ 2 am. That’s really what kind of started everything I think.
Nice! Good answer.
Joseph: Yeah, John. Solid bass line bro.
We have seen a lot of temporary supergroups come together in Nashville. Did you guys see Salvador Dali Parton?
Joseph: Yeah! They’re nothing compared to this though. (laughs)
That’s what I’m saying! The Yulelog Lumberjacks made the mold. What makes Nashville a good place for the temporary supergroup mentality? I know you all have side projects.
John: We have a lot of friends who are playing music that we don’t usually get to play with. We all have our own careers. The band is a group of best friends and we all love each other, so it’s a good excuse to play together when we normally wouldn’t get to. I think that’s how it is with a lot of these groups.
Joseph: We draw more people with The Yulelog Lumberjacks than our individual bands usually would. (laughs) So, it’s funny. Christmas is a good market.
Indeed. Favorite thing to do in Nashville during Christmas time?
Joseph: Oooh…honestly, Brother Christmas is my favorite thing in Nashville all year.
John: I love going to Opryland to see the lights. That’s something I try to do every year, since it’s kind of extravagant.
Joseph: My favorite activity in Nashville is probably to go get a seasonal latte at Crema, go buy a Christmas sweater at Imogene and Willie, and then go watch an independent Christmas movie at the Belcourt. (laughs)
Caleb and John: That’s so Nashville!
John: Something I’ve always wanted to do, but I’m always home in Birmingham when it happens, is the Belcourt showing It’s A Wonderful Life every year. That’s definitely something I would do!
If you could add one famous Nashville-based musician to Yulelog Lumberjacks, who would it be?
Joseph: Nathan Spicer, hands down! (everyone laughs) He couldn’t do it this year because he was off playing.
Nice! Anyone else?
Joseph: Let’s think…somebody who’s got good Christmas chops.
Caleb: That’s the main part – it’s not really the music, you gotta have Christmas chops.
Joseph: I think we would do well to get a few girls who could just wail on some great background vocals and embody that Christmas spirit.
Caleb: Or maybe some really old dude who we don’t know about, like an old studio guitar player who does Chet Atkins style. Like, 90 years old and has tracked on every record you’ve ever heard.
Joseph: Just in case this person actually reads it and we get to play with them, let’s just say Jim Oblon – he’s a really good guitar player. I heard him play either at FooBar or Taproom and I was like DANG. This has got Christmas all over it.
Will the YLL be back in action next year?
John: As long as there’s enough of us in town who aren’t on the road to form a group, we’ll play Yulelog shows until we’re 90.
Joseph: These past few years Caleb hasn’t arrived until the morning or a few hours before the show, but he’s unstoppable.
Lightning round: Favorite Christmas movie?
All: It’s A Wonderful Life!
Best place to find a Christmas sweater?
John: I get mine at Goodwill.
Caleb: A local grandpa! Just find a local grandpa, they have great sweaters.
Least favorite Christmas movie?
John: Here’s the thing you have to understand about us: we love Christmas so much that if it has anything to do with it, we are probably going to like it even if it’s crappy.
Joseph: Worst case scenario: we deal with it, and you know – we’re fine.
Caleb: But Jingle All the Way is pretty bad. (laughs) It’s not the best.
Joseph: And Sinbad! Sinbad is in that movie. He plays the dad, but you don’t even know if he’s a dad – you never see if he has a child. And I heard his role was written for Joe Pesci.
Egg nog or cider?
Joseph: Hmm…is there whiskey involved?
John: Can I say both? If we are at Brother Christmas I’m drinkin’ both.
Favorite thing about Nashville?
Is that unanimous?
Caleb: It is for me.
Joseph: Caleb, I’m curious as to what you would have said for egg nog or cider. Just because I care about you.
Caleb: I’d say egg nog, just because I don’t mind putting on a couple L-B’s for the holiday season, you know?
– Your local guide.