When the opportunity came up to interview Wycombe based Hard Rock/Alternative outfit, Young Guns, it really did not take me long to go, why not! Winner of the coveted No.1 spot in the Best Albums of 2010 List, this was certainly an opportunity I could not afford to miss. I find out what the band are up to at present and which rappers they would like to work with! Gus Wood answers my questions, along with a few questions asked by you, their adoring fans.
Sourmash: Firstly, thanks for doing this interview for me. For people who might not know much about Young Guns, could you guys tell us a bit about the band and how you got started? What you guys up to at the moment?
Young Guns: My pleasure, thanks for asking. Everyone except me grew up in the same area playing in bands in the local scene. Through doing that for most of their teenage years they all inevitably ended up playing music together. Through a mutual friend I met John and ended up playing bass for a band he was in at the time for a laugh. As the years progressed members came and went and that band eventually morphed into the line up we have today. We’ve been playing music for about 7 years now in one way or another but this line up only locked into place in 2008 when Simon joined the band (for the second time).
Right now we’re holed up in our little studio that we (badly) built ourselves writing and demoing up new material for our second record. 2010 was an amazing but heavy year so we’re trying to detox (ha!) and stay focussed and healthy. I give it two more weeks!
SM: So with 2010 seeing the release of your debut album, ‘All Our Kings Are Dead’, what’s next for the band as we enter a new year?
YG: We’re headed back out on the road supporting All Time Low in February through march for their UK/European run of dates, before some more writing time, and then we’re off to Japan and China for some shows, before doing a few festivals over the summer. We’ll record the new album in July, and then hopefully it all begins again. Primarily, this year is about trying to write and record the best album we can, hopefully if we manage that everything else will fall into place. It’s an exciting but daunting prospect for sure, we had a really great year but nothings ever a given in this industry it would seem, time moves fast and people’s tastes change even faster so we’ll see. I’m confident that we can come out with something pretty special though.
SM: Was is it always important to you guys to release the album on your own label, Live Forever?
YG: Well, we were open to options but in the end we went with our gut and kept things close. We’ve always operated in that way and it just felt right. At the end of the day we know what we want, we’re working to a specific plan that we’ve had since day 1 and it’s worked for us so far. We just didn’t feel the need to enter into a terribly constricting contract – this way we have more creative control than we would otherwise have. At the moment there seems to be a real signing fever going on with the majors, and that’s great but I think we’re all a little distrustful of such things, some of the boys have been in major label bands before, and fundamentally that means fuck all. We’re happy with where we are, how things are moving, and feel like we made the right choice. I don’t know what the future holds, but we’ve always had a DIY mentality and it hasn’t hurt us so far! Obviously there’s always a risk when you’re putting your career in the hands of 5 idiots but luckily we have a great distribution deal with PIAS and great management/press/booking etc and they keep us on track. We’re very fortunate to have the people we have around us.
SM: Would you have any advice for bands that want to self-release their own music?
YG: I’d say don’t be afraid of it. If others won’t release your music, then screw it, release it yourself. Often people can’t see what you can, and that’s not necessarily because it isn’t there. If other people DO want to release it, still consider it and just weigh up your options. It’s more work, that’s for sure, but the rewards can be greater and it definitely adds to the feeling of accomplishment if and when things progress. Last year we played the O2 arena with Bon Jovi, we played the main stage at Reading and Leeds, headlined the biggest shows we’ve ever played and released an album that went on to do great things for us. If you set your mind to it, you can make things happen. I really believe that. It’s different strokes for different folks at the end of the day though.
SM: What influenced you most in the making of ‘All Our Kings Are Dead’?
YG: We wrote the album in 5 weeks so it’s definitely a snapshot of that point in time. As for me personally, It was definitely a reflective time and a time of real change in my life. My direction and momentum had completely taken a u-turn so the album’s lyrics are mostly about my opinions and feelings about where I was in life and the events that had brought me there. Sonically, we really wanted to create something that sounded ambitious and grand and not necessarily like a band starting out, releasing their first album proper. It was an exciting but really trying time, we wrote and recorded it in such a short space of time there were a lot of late nights, a lot of stress and not a lot of time to dwell on what we were doing.
SM: I see you have already had some high-profile support slots, what’s the experience like going on tour with other bands?
YG: It’s great. We’ve played with some bands that inspired us to play music in the first place which is a great feeling. Seeing how things operate on a level (or more) above is fascinating as well. Obviously, as a first on act there’s a degree of compromise involved, you often don’t have time to sound check, you don’t get much space or much in the way of stage show but it’s always a good thing to do. It gets you out to new crowds, you make new friends in bands and generally just get to be a part of a really special way of existing. It’s great, and it keeps you aware that no matter who you are, you can always be a supporting act to somebody else.
SM: Are there any bands out there at the moment that you guys have been buzzing off recently?
YG: We’re all in love with the new White Lies album at the moment. I’m listening to that constantly. There’s also a norwegian punk-rock-n-roll-cum-black-metal band with three guitars called Kvelertak. Their album is wicked. As for up and coming UK bands, The new Lower Than Atlantis stuff sounds great, and our friends (amongst them our producer Dan Weller) are in a band called Minutes that are about to blow up. Really digging Jessie J too. It’s a good time for music.
Gus also took the time to answer some questions from you guys, all sent in via Twitter!
@DaniMehtax asks… What has been their best achievement yet? Oh and tell them i love them thankyou!
YG: Hey Dani, thanks! I’d say selling out the Electric Ballroom in london on our last headline tour. We’ve played to bigger crowds and stuff, but this was OUR crowd in the first venue I ever went to see a band in when I was 13, so yeah definitely that. Felt like a dream end to a dream year.
@leannesturrock asks… I’ve noticed Gustav is quite the writer, both lyrically and in his blogs! What inspires/influences him?
YG: Hey Leanne. Thanks. I’ve always said this and it still feels true so I’ll say it again; my lyrics are a stab in the dark at best and I’m never confident about them. I enjoy the process but I also find it frustrating ‘cos it’s almost like no matter how good I think they are, I never think they’re good enough. I always try to make my lyrics feel a little more classical and literary I suppose, and try to write about things I feel are a little more elemental, for want of a better word, than being dumped and all that kind of crap. Not that there isn’t a place for that of course. I read a lot and always find that the things I fall in love with the most are about the greater themes in life when it comes to books or films or whatever so my lyrics my shitty attempts to wrestle with those things… So far they’ve mostly been pretty personal, I want to try to expand a little more on the next album.
@SynysterZebraYG asks… If they had to listen to one song for the rest of their life, what would it be? Mine is Elements by them x
YG: One of our own songs? I think that would be torture in many different ways. Firstly, I tend to hear the things I’m not happy with rather than the things I am, and secondly I hear them enough as it is! At a push I guess I’d have to say Stitches as I’m proudest of it, but it would probably change all the time, as does which song is my favourite.
@PostivelyLost asks… You have a very real connection with your fans. Do you think that it’s helped shape/influence you?
YG: Well… it’s definitely been a key part of having had things gone so well, and we’re proud of the relationship we have with our fans, and we love them all dearly. In terms of shaping or influencing our music, I wouldn’t say it has – we try to write what we think sounds good and then worry about what other people think later! It is a thin line to walk though, I want us to be approachable and friendly, but also grew up loving bands that had that air of mystique about them and I definitely think that it is possible or bands to be TOO available. Fundamentally though, our connection with our audience is a huge blessing and we’re humbled by it every time we play a show or meet people who like our band.
@LorellaSix asks…What inspired you to write/create Winter Kiss? It’s by far your best song & You guys are amazing <3 -Lorella
YG: Thanks Lorella! Nice name. After the EP we wanted to write a song with a bit of drama and, I guess, a bit of darkness and theatricality to it so we wrote a song around quite an unusual chord progression and played with strings and piano. I love it.
@zanelowe asks… if you could collaborate with one rapper, who would it be?
YG: Tupac! Just kidding. Tough one. Example would be cool.. If we were to do it I’d like it to perhaps have a dance-y tinge to it. We’d love to though, it’d be great to go outside of our comfort zone that much. Or Snoop, I bought Doggystyle from Our Price when I was like 10 and I loved it. He’s wicked. Or Busta Rhymes maybe.
@Kelsface asks… Can you ask them which is their favourite song to perform and why and tell them I love them
YG: Love you too! It changes all the time… Some days it’ll be something like Weight of The World of Crystal Clear just because of how the audience responds, or some days it’ll be Stitches or At The Gates or something slower because you can create a different kind of vibe.
Well that’s your lot, thanks to Gus for taking time to answer questions on behalf of the band, and for you guys here is their video for their latest single, ‘Weight Of The World’…