At Work: John Andrews and the Yawns

Mike Ayers on July 27, 2021
At Work: John Andrews and the Yawns

After John Andrews released his 2017 album, Bad Posture, his world turned upside down. His band The Yawns—with whom he was living in a big house in Barrington, N.H.—broke up, leaving him with an empty van and the need for some soul-searching. So the singer/guitarist set out on a solo trek across the United States that led him to start writing what would become his third album on Woodsist, Cookbook

“I’ve been on tour across the country I don’t know how many times,” Andrews says. “But this was the first time that I did it completely by myself—I was thriving being alone. I loved it. That trip helped me obtain the vision for this record.” 

However, Andrews has long been known to approach his music in a rather nomadic style. His 2015 debut, Bit by the Fang was recorded in Lancaster, Pa. while he was working at a Salvation Army. After that, Andrews relocated to New Hampshire; he says that the low cost of living makes the area ideal for an artist to thrive. 

The multi-instrumentalist first made his name playing drums with the Boston folk-rock band Quilt. As that group became a favorite on the psych-rock club circuit, Andrews connected with Woodsist founder Jeremy Earl’s band Woods and ended up both contributing keyboards, organ and musical saw to a handful of their records and joining them on the road as a touring member. (He’s also recorded with a few other acts in the Woods orbit, including Kevin Morby and rising country-rock band Cut Worms.) 

On Cookbook, Andrews perfects the sunny, pastoral psych-rock sound that he’s been slowly cultivating over the years. Cuts like “New California Blue” and “Try” could easily be mistaken for long-lost tracks from The Byrds or The Mamas & the Papas. Andrews’ voice and production often co-mingle— creating a warm, inviting vibe—even if his subject matter delves into less sunny moods like self-doubt and relationship implosions. 

These days, Andrews muses, The Yawns are more of an idea that continues to surround him than an actual band. On Cookbook, he plays mostly everything, with the exception of guitar and drums on a few tracks. Being a loner, though, has worked out for him so far—at least in his mind. And it also gave him something to pine for. 

“This isn’t a road-trip record,” he says. “It’s supposed to sound very domestic. Even though I was writing the songs around that trip, I was writing about something I was searching for: a home.”