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Dan Yemin: The Psychology of Punk.

April 3, 2013

DanYeminSmallText by Bree Wood. Image by Jessica Flynn.

Sit down with Dan Yemin at his home in Fairmount and it is easy to see the many roles he plays in his life — family man, frontman and working man. Records, books, children’s toys and laundry fill his living room.

A long-time member of the Philly music scene, Yemin, the former guitarist for the now-defunct Kid Dynamite, is currently the vocalist for Paint It Black and guitarist for Lifetime. And he’s working on a new band. If juggling all that, plus a 3-year-old daughter and a 6-month-old son sounds crazy, it is. It may not be surprising that Yemin spends a lot of time in a psychologist’s office. What may be surprising is that he is not on the couch but in the chair as a self-employed, licensed psychologist.

The world of music and that of psychology might seem completely different, but Yemin knows that his music and career are very connected.

“I don’t write directly about anything that happens at work, just about relationships, power and the abuse of it,” he explains. “I’m inspired by people and people’s resilience. I get personal fulfillment. I get to have an impact on people and be creative. A lot goes on behind the scenes. For every substantial gain you see, there is an immense amount of thinking and working going on.”

He’s created a balance between training and intuition. His formal education began at the University of Michigan, where he chose his major at the last possible moment.

“I was naive in the sense that I thought about the world without nuance in a very dichotomous, black-and-white way,” he says. “I was becoming politicized, reading the newspaper during the Reagan era and listening to punk. It split the world into people whose works were self-serving and people who did work that served others. I knew I didn’t want to be a part of an organization that made capital.”

After earning his bachelor’s degree in psychology, Yemin continued at Widener University for his master’s degree and doctorate.

Being a psychologist can seem very dark and overwhelming, he admits, but there is something great and real about it.

“It’s all brutally human,” he says. “There is no BS to it. You end up loving something about every client pretty deeply. I shouldn’t use the word love but honestly, you do love something about the people you work with. Not in a romantic or fraternal sense but you can’t be intimately connected in a caring way without actually caring very deeply about the person.”

Some people might try to keep such drastic day-and-night jobs separate but Yemin says his work and music are very intertwined.

“I think everything is integrated,” he says. “The idea that parts of your life are separate seems like an artificial construction.”

While Yemin sees a wide range of clients, more than half are between the ages of 13 and 25 years.

“I think teenagers are thrilling,” he quips. “I like that no one seems to like to work with them. I get stoked on that. This says a lot about me but a lot of them make more sense to me than some adults.”

His personal philosophies extend to how he runs his business. Affordable therapy isn’t always the easiest thing to get when dealing with insurance companies, so his practice doesn’t take insurance. Instead, he works on a sliding scale or he’ll trade community service for therapy.

“Managed care is a parasite business,” Yemin says. “It is a huge obstacle to get care now. Managed care was going to be the overseer and decide what was necessary and overpriced but all it did was make a middle man, which is all made for profit.”

Even with the time and passion he puts into working with clients, he still has the drive to create music.

“My ambition is to keep doing what I’m doing untill I fall over,” says Yemin. “Instead of building my career, like most, my energy goes into my next record.”

He is in the middle of starting a new band with Andy Nelson, the bassist of Paint it Black, Chris Wilson, the drummer from Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and Blacklisted singer George Hirsch. The yet-to-be-named group has a late ’80s, Washington D.C. punk sound. They will start playing shows in the late spring.

Additionally, Yemin is finishing up a new Paint it Black record, Invisible, which will be available April 1 from No Idea Records. The record release show at the First Unitarian Church sold out six weeks in advance.

“Because we don’t play often, every time we do play, we take it very seriously,” Yemin says. “We want the show to be perfect. We think about what we would want to see. We blow most of the money we make from the show on flying people in to make the show great.”

One Comment
  1. Hans permalink
    April 3, 2013 1:44 pm

    Would have been nice to see a mention of the best band he ever played in (Lifetime)

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