With no opportunity to perform and tour normally and restricted in the ways they can interact with fans, musicians have been taking the brunt of the COVID-19 lockdowns both creatively and financially. Double/triple that for club owners like Scott Ayers, who doubles as the brilliant artistic force and sonic mastermind of emerging 80’s-synth jam inspired powerhouse YachtClub101 and the former owner of RIC, a popular (now closed by the pandemic) club that hosted drag shows, jazz bands, live band karaoke and a Skee-ball league.
Maybe he was depressed for a moment or two, but you’d never know it listening to YachtClub101’s buoyant, occasionally biting but overall optimistic debut, driven by a colorful fusion of funky electronic grooves, sweeping infectious choruses and delightful synth runs straight out of the aesthetic of Ayers’ influences (especially Duran Duran, Prince and The Grateful Dead).
His priceless commentaries on each of these ten high-spirited, slickly produced tracks reveal two important elements that give us insight into his overall vision here. First, that a lot of these songs – most notably the funky, shout out loud romance “One Kiss” and the sizzling, unabashed sex song “Give It To Me” were the delightful visceral response to asking himself “WWPD (What Would Prince Do?)” and that most of these gems were penned over summer 2020 while in quarantine.
This is a guy who once had a band (The Lovemakers) signed to Interscope, played drums for a Gun Club tribute with Debbie Harry and Nick Cave, co-wrote a song with Chris Stein and did a mashup with 50-Cent. So imagine decades of all that experience, combined with cabin fever, conspiring to unleash a torrent of “let me out” styled creativity – and that’s what you hear when you launch into this bold, non-stop fun collection. The multi-talented singer/songwriter claims that the bustling opening anthem “This Too Shall Pass,” is something of a philosophical piece about human behavior and our ability to overcome the troubles of any single day – but the subtext is, you just know he’s also hopeful about the eventual end of the pandemic.
Likewise, the tightly grooving, punchy synth rocker “Nothing They Say,” fashioned as a tribute to the amazing drag queens who held court in his club; lines like “You opened the door to your future/No time to stop it now/It’s far from over/And you, you’re off to better days” can apply either way. Ayers as YachtClub101 also makes a definitive plan for a party when it’s all over on “You Pick the Spot,” written about massive live musical events that he hopes will make up for all we missed in 2020.
Over a relentless dance groove and intense guitar jangle, he gets to it immediately: “Let’s celebrate and bring in the summertime/Call up your friends and pour yourself a glass of wine. . .the past year sucked so let’s make this one better.” With joyful retro music and sentiments like that, we should consider YachtClub101 one of the indie music scene’s ultimate silver linings of the damn pandemic and lockdown. Onward, upward and seaward!