The Refrain Interview: Yard Sign

Yard Sign is an online punk rock band, a one-man folk punk act, and Tik Tok Emo from Ohio. They specialize in songs about life, love, loss, and Star Wars. No matter the incarnation, Yard Sign is a variety of musical outputs led by Scott Marks, an elder millennial “Swemo” originally from New York, but calling central Ohio home for the past decade. Coming of musical age in both the New York Hard Core and Pop-punk scenes, Marks played all different instruments for all different bands before settling into middle-aged-dom in the Midwest. After 10+ years of musical semi-retirement, Yard Sign emerged from the pandemic, churning out full-band punk rock (and adjacent) anthems on the internet and leading sing-along kazoo parties across Ohio and beyond in their one-of-a-kind-one-man folk punk shows.

We had the chance to ask Yard Sign some questions. Check it out below.

Refrain Music Blog: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. You have a new single out now. Tell us about it? What’s it called? 

Yard Sign: Thank you! My new single is Called ‘hlp u out’ and it came out on March 3rd on Punkerton Records.

RMB: What’s the single about? 

Yard Sign: The short, non-annoying answer is that its about being there to help your friends and family when they are struggling. The longer, more annoying answer is that its about how so many people are struggling as a direct result of the kind of society we live in, yet it feels like the only way to help each other sometimes is to buy back into the very systems that create the struggle. A never-ending cycle. Everyone wants a revolution, but sometimes the best we can do is just to be excellent to each other. Bill and Ted said that.

RMB: What’s the story on how it was recorded?

Yard Sign: It was recorded in my home studio in my attic! It was recorded very quickly. I had the basic idea for the song a long time ago. But when I had the idea to record it, I basically wrote it on the fly. I think I recorded the drum part before I had any idea what the melody of the verses would be or how the bridge would go at all. I write and record everything myself, so it makes it very easy to improvise in the recording process and make it seem like it was all intentional!

RMB: Is it part of a larger album? If so, tell us about that. 

Yard Sign: Yes, It’s part of an EP called The Midwest Midlife Meltdowns EP, which came out on March 3rd on Punkerton Records LLC. HLP U out is main single from the EP. The entire thing was basically written and recorded in one long weekend in a fairly manic blast of inspiration. I had actually gone into a studio in 2022 to record a completely different EP, and for a number of reasons, that project has not come out yet. While I was waiting, I got antsy and decided to write and record this EP!

RMB: How does this single differ from your previous work?

Yard Sign: I think its way more straight up pop-punky than alot of Yard Sign. Its also just way more upbeat and all-around feel good than most of the yard sign catalog. Also the kazoo/lead guitar combo in the opening of the song sounds kinda like a trumpet which has landed the song on some cool ska playlists, which is beyond rad!!!

RMB: Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you start pursuing music?

Yard Sign: I’m a middle-aged dude who came of musical age growing up in New York and playing in bands in both the NYHC scene of the 90’s and the NY pop-punk scene of the 2000’s. Not to show my age too much, but I’ve been playing in punk bands since I was 14 years old and I think my first band was formed in 1995 or 96!

RMB: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?

Yard Sign: I love all of the 90’s skate punk bands like NOFX, Bouncing Souls, Screeching Weasel and stuff like that, and I think I have to say those are my biggest influences. But artists like Jeff Rosenstock and Chris Farren really gave me the blueprint for how to still make punk music as a middle-aged ass man! I’m also a huge Swiftie and love to incorporate Taylor Swift covers and references into everything I do. The new EP has a Taylor Swift cover, Champagne Problems.

RMB: What’s the one thing you are most proud of in your career so far?

YS: Probably this new EP, actually! And just the fact that at this point in my life and musical journey, I’m still able to play music and even have some people listen to it!

RMB: If you had to pitch your music to a potential fan in less than 10 seconds, what would you say?

YS: Take Pop-punk, folk-punk and Emo and throw it in a blender with a kazoo and some bells and you’ve got the Yard Sign sound!

RMB: What’s one piece of advice you’ve gotten that you think everyone needs to hear or that has meant the most to you?

YS: Be humble, Be grateful and stick around for all of the bands!

RMB: If you could go back in time, what’s a piece of advice you would give to a younger you?

YS: “Stick with it, young man!!!” I went many years not playing music and thinking that my life in music was over and that nobody would ever be interested in what I had to say or play. I am so grateful to be playing music live, writing and releasing new music and collaborating with musicians all over the state. And it all almost never happened! Never give up, things happen in their right time!

RMB: What’s coming up next for your musical project?

YS: I look forward to playing live throughout 2023 including regular happy hour dates at Half Baked Brew in Columbus. I am also hoping ot release another EP before the year is over!

RMB: Who is your dream collaborator?

YS: Taylor Swift, of course!

Connect With Yard Sign:       
Bandcamp / Spotify / Instagram / TikTok


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