After his 2016 album “Arranging Time,” Pete Yorn intended to take some time off to raise his baby daughter, Ellie Bee, now 4 years old. But life got in the way. A sudden burst of creativity led to 2018’s “Apart” duets EP with Scarlett Johansson, his collaborator on 2009’s “Break Up,” as well his 2019 solo album “Caretakers.” Co-produced by Day Wave’s Jackson Phillips, “Caretakers” echoes the classic New Order-edged sound he introduced on his 2001 debut, “musicforthemorningafter.” Yorn says, “Jackson is kind of a generation or two behind me, and when we first met he said he grew up listening to my stuff because his sister was always playing it. So I think he saw me a certain way, and he reminded me of things about myself that maybe I had forgotten or moved on from. So he naturally went for those aesthetics with me in the studio.”
You got so productive you were writing and recording a song a day with Phillips, right?
Yeah. And he’s my touring guitarist now. He’s from Mill Valley — all those Day Wave guys are from Mill Valley. But when we started, we didn’t know what we were doing. We were just feeling things out, thinking of doing an EP, because I wasn’t signed to a label and nobody was waiting for a record. So we were kind of doing it just for fun. So as a jumping-off point I had three or four songs that I’d written, but when we got through those, I decided to just start writing more songs, right there on the spot, and this flurry of inspiration came.
“Caretakers” could refer to helping your aging parents, or your daughter as a future caretaker of the environment.
It means so many different things. Initially, it came from taking care of family, and then it grew to the fact that we’re all connected in our responsibility to each other. Then the other side of it is wanting to help the people you love, but maybe not being able to because sometimes there’s nothing you can do, it’s just out of your hands. So you have to learn how to accept that and not let it drive you crazy. And because music has saved me so many times, I see the songs themselves as caretakers.
And you have a guiding philosophy now, too?
I have my own brand of what I call hyper-present awareness. It’s a mix of Eckhart Tolle and seeing yourself the way a stranger would see you, with no stories. Because 99 percent of your thoughts are just distractions, and you don’t need them. So there’s that, some good B vitamins, and a little whiskey.
IF YOU GO
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16
Tickets: $35 to $285 VIP
Contact: (415) 885-0759, slimspresents.com/great-american-music-hall