John Andrews & The Yawns share “River of Doubt,” tell us about the influences behind new album

John Andrews plays drums in Quilt, keyboards in Woods, and is also a regular member in Hand Habits and Cut Worms, among other groups. But he’s also a songwriter and records his own folky pop rock under the auspices of John Andrews & The Yawns, which is mostly just him but also his friends. The third Yawns album, Cookbook, is set to be released May 14 via Woodsist. He’s just released a lovely new song from the record, “River of Doubt,” a song about lying awake with your thoughts, set to a a jazzy beat and delicately plucked guitars. The video, which John directed, mixes snapshots from work and play with some excellent hand-drawn animation. Check that out, along with a “show poster” for the single (in lieu of making them for shows), below.

On a record like Cookbook, there are a lot of sonic ingredients involved and we asked John to give us the recipe. He came back to us with a list of 10 inspirations for the album, which include everything from Fats Domino and Vince Guaraldi to Joni Mitchell and The Shangri-Las, skateboarders, and yes, his kitchen. You can check out John’s list, including insightful and witty commentary, below.


Vince Guaraldi – “Little Birdie”
I’ve been a Peanuts fan my whole life. I’d be lying if I said my album wasn’t hugely inspired by Vince Guaraldi’s wonderful soundtracks to these classic cartoons. They’re just so groovy and playful.

Mark Gonzales
I recorded a little instrumental song for the record and thought it almost sounded like something Mark Gonzales would skate to. I dedicated the song to him. The Gonz is my hero. I just wanted to say thanks to an artist that continues to inspire me for many, many years.

Fats Domino – Cookin’ With Fats
In 2017 I was lucky enough to play drums for folk legend F.J. McMahon. It was his first performance of his full album “Spirit of the Golden Juice”. During the rehearsals he kept saying, “Man, we are really cookin right now!” It was his catchphrase of the day and I loved it. After rehearsal, I went to a record store & immediately found this LP “Cookin with Fats”. I decided to buy it. The record became a staple for me while I was cooking dinner at home, which is one of my favorite times to listen to music. It’s one of the many reasons I eventually landed on the title “Cookbook” for this record.

My kitchen
I went a few years where I didn’t really have my own place. I was on the road with Hand Habits and Cut Worms full time & just had my stuff stored at my Mom’s house. When touring finally sorta chilled out, my girlfriend and I moved into an apartment in Dover NH. It was so nice to have my own place again. When you’re on tour forever, all you wanna do is sleep in your own bed, or cook yourself dinner. Now I could once again feel like a normal, functioning adult. I spent a lot of time sitting at the kitchen table working on rough mixes of songs, working on animations, doing whatever. I definitely was subconsciously influenced by this room. It’s a dark, shady room, but at the same time, still bursting with color from the old wallpaper, purple tiles, and green linoleum floors. The interior of our house probably hasn’t been updated in 50+ years. It’s super dated, but I love it. Yet another reason why I thought Cookbook would be an appropriate title. I had LA painter Greg Hartunian paint me in the kitchen for the album art.

Chris Montez – “Call Me”
I heard this song on the Rochester, NH oldie’s station WMEX. It blew my mind. I love how it’s produced to sound as if there’s a dinner party happening. Silverware clinking, people chattering. It sounds like a fun party. Chris Montez’s vocals are so sweet. Such a catchy song.

The Shangri La’s – “Give Him a Great Big Kiss”
I was obsessed with the Shangri-La’s during the early stages of writing Cookbook. They break my heart. Each song is a mini opera, somehow confined within two minutes. I wanted to write short, poppy love songs. It’s really hard to do. My attempts usually result in a 4 minute long song. I was also asked to only write 2 or 3 sentences for each subject in this Brooklyn Vegan feature and I’m totally going rogue. Sorry!

Joni Mitchell – Big Yellow Taxi (Live 1974)
Joni is the greatest. i’ve gotten a lot of mileage from her music & lyrics. I just wanna forever boogie to this live version of “Big Yellow Taxi” from Mile Of Aisles.

Wendell Stuart & The Downbeaters – “Always Something There to Remind Me”
My buddy Noah showed me this. I think the original version is by Lou Johnson? And everyone knows the ’80s version by Naked Eyes, haha. But wow, Wendell Stuart & the Downbeaters sure did this tune the right way. Kinda made me feel as though it was my first time ever hearing this song. Great vibe & such a catchy chorus. I wanted to challenge myself into writing catchy choruses like this one.

The Turtles – “You Showed Me”
The production here kills me. Love the dark reverb. Love the organ stabs. If I had the resources and the funding there would’ve been a lot of string arrangements on Cookbook. Maybe next time!

The Temptations – “Just My Imagination”
Soft, smooth vocals. Big inspiration. Just the best.