The New Jersey indie rock trio Yo La Tengo turned 25 last year, something singer-guitarist Ira Kaplan says the troupe hardly expected when it started out in the mid’80s.
“It wasn’t a surprise by the 23rd year,” Kaplan says with a laugh, “but, yeah, I’d say it was a big surprise from when we started. If you asked back then if I thought we’d be doing this in 25 years, the answer would’ve been ‘no’ because that’s ridiculous.
“But it wasn’t because we had plans to do it for four years and then stop or anything like that. We just kind of knew it was something we wanted to do at that moment and ... didn’t think much about it beyond that.”
During that time Yo La Tengo — Kaplan, drummer Georgia Hubley (his wife) and bassist James McNew — have amassed a catalog of a dozen studio albums, some EPs, side projects and a set of covers called “Yo La Tengo is Murdering the Classics” culled from performances on the New Jersey radio station WFMU, where Kaplan is an on-air personality. The troupe’s latest album, “Popular Songs” in 2009, gave Yo La Tengo its highest-ever chart peak at No. 58 on the Billboard 200, and Kaplan says it’s gratifying to feel like the group is gaining momentum after all this time.
“I think we have a lot of confidence in each other,” he explains. “I think we can achieve what we’re looking for as long as we allow it to kind of grow and develop at its one pace.
“I think we work better together now, and some of the really crippling fights that we used to have ... there’s a lot less of that now. I think we’ve gotten better at dealing with each other when the music isn’t working out well. We realize there’ll be good days and there’ll be bad days and not let the bad days have too much of an impact on the overall work.”
Yo La Tengo and Times New Viking perform Friday (Jan. 22) at the Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $17. Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.