Artist Spotlight: Q&A with British rock band Young Guns

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Last month we caught up in-depth with John Taylor and Gustav Wood, two members of the British rock band Young Guns, to discuss their new album “Bones” recently released across Canada. They just completed the North American HardDrive Live Tour tour with Bullet For My Valentine. Here’s what they had to say.

Q: So you mentioned this wasn’t the band’s first time in Toronto/Canada, right? Tell me a bit about the last time you were here.

YG: Correct. We’ve only been to Toronto, but the first time we played was kind of like a showcase at the Horseshoe Tavern and that was back in September while we were on tour with Seether. That was really cool. That was our first American tour.

Q: How is Bones different personally and musically in comparison to your last album?

YG: Well, fundamentally it’s better. In terms of song writing anyway, I feel like it’s definitely a step up. It’s more cohesive.

Q: Do you think you’ve changed a lot from the 2010 album?

YG: Yeah I think so. I mean we’re the same band but there’s just an evolution there. I think our song writing got a lot better, our opinion of what constitutes a good song has evolved; I think that it’s probably a more confident sounding record and a record that sounds a little bit more like a band who knows who they are. I mean our first record we wrote it very quickly and we hadn’t been together for very long; it’s just more of an assured kind of record with a bit more conviction to it. I’m really happy with it; I think it’s more of a positive sounding record as well. Definitely has bigger songs on it, it’s more anthemic, and a little bit more to the point as well.

Q: What was the best part about recording the album?

YG: It’s got to be where we recorded it, haha. We did it in Thailand, which was just an incredible place to do a record. Really beautiful environment. I mean doing an album can be quite stressful. If you’re going to be really stressed out and worrying, it’s lovely to be surrounded by palm trees and have a pool you can chill out in. It was really somewhere that a band of our stature at that point shouldn’t have been able to go to. That was kind of lucky, it was like a bit of a blague – a friend of a friend knew a guy with the studio that just opened up, and he gave us a good deal that meant it was basically pretty much the same price as recording it in London, so there really wasn’t much of a decision.

Q: So to those who don’t know Young Guns and come across a copy of Bones in store, what can they expect? In about five words, describe this album.

YG: Anthemic, universal, “something for everyone”.

Q: What are your favourite songs off the new album?

John: Mine’s probably Broadfields, which is the last track on the album. That was a really fun song to do, we’ve never done anything like it, it was basically more like an acoustic folky type song that I actually came up with when I was really hung-over and all I had was this little guitar and we went out to Thailand and it kind of set off the atmosphere and we finished the album there. The lyrics, or even the whole song feels really evocative and I don’t think we’ve ever written anything like that before.

Gus: I agree it’s kind of unique. For me, I really enjoy the first song on the record; it’s called I Was Born, I Have Lived, I Will Surely Die. It’s not a song we play live that often; we only do it at headline shows. It’s big and noisy, and it’s just the sound of us having a lot of fun and experimenting with new structure ideas. It was the first song we worked on in Thailand and it just kind of encapsulates us in that point in time.

Q: So I spoke to a couple Young Guns fans and they all mentioned that your shows are very energetic and hardcore, and there’s a lot of engaging with the crowd. What’s the best part about being on the road, touring and performing live?

YG: Probably that really. Connecting with the audience and establishing that connection, and when it works, when it’s really there it’s a really great feeling. You can just lose yourself in it a bit and get really carried away. It’s a real rush. When a live show works out, it’s like the best feeling in the world. When you come off stage and you know it was a good show, and you can see it on all the other guys in the band, they’re all on it. Even if we’re fucked up or hung over or jetlagged, I think as soon as we step on stage, we always kind of try and turn it on and get the crowd moving; we’re all about energy and atmosphere and creating that kind of connection with the audience. We want our shows to be the same kind of shows that we loved going to when we were kids – you know, people crowd surfing, everyone singing along, shows were it was all about the energy and chaos etc. Whether we’re playing an arena or a small venue like the Horseshoe, it’s always just about creating an atmosphere and hopefully giving the audience a workout and making it so that everyone leaves feeling kind of tired, but still had a good night.

Q: What’s your least favourite part of touring?

YG: Not sleeping. That’s probably number one. Sleep becomes something that you have a really vague relationship with. We get maybe about 2 hours of sleep a night at the moment because we’re traveling in this vehicle that’s not that great for sleeping. And that’s a psychological thing that just really seems to weigh you down. There’s not really a lot of negatives about it, though. You kind of live a professional hobo lifestyle; you’re never really in one place very long. We’re never really home, which is not a huge problem. The only thing sad is missing family and relationships and all those things that kind of get pushed aside. But what we do is a temporary thing so you kind of just have to enjoy the moment and get every last bit of worth out of it you can.

Q: Anywhere you want to tour next?

YG: Probably to Canada. We’ve only seen Toronto, and now that the record has come out here, there’s kind of a motive and reason for us to come here which is great. Hopefully that’ll happen at some point this year. Other than that, South and Central America. We’re going to Brazil for the first time in July which is really fantastic – we’re doing a show at a festival in Sao Paulo. Back to Asia would be nice, maybe Japan.

Q: Where did the inspiration for the album artwork come from, and what made you guys decide “This is what we want for Bones”.

YG: We have a friend, Paul Jackson – he’s done all of our artworks to date. We knew when we came to this new record we wanted a piece of art, you know… an oil painting. We spoke for a long time; we knew we wanted to avoid the obvious pile of bones or whatever. He actually came up with this idea. Bones is metaphor for inner strength and something intimate and personal inside you. So really it’s not actually a woman levitating in the air – it’s a woman in her bedroom with the early morning light coming through the window and she’s just lost in her personal moment of rapture.

Q: Last question, if you could tour with one band or artist, open for – or have open, who would it be?

YG: Oh, that’s a tricky one. Well, we all love this band called Thrice, and obviously they’re not playing anymore. I guess we’ve done a couple festivals with them… We grew up as fans and stayed fans throughout the journey they went on musically, and really loved kind of every step of that journey. It’s always difficult to know what kind of tour we want it to be, but I’d say they were always the number one we wanted to tour with.

Interview and photo by Tiffany Lam // @TiffanyLJ_

Check out some live photos from their recent Toronto show at the Sound Academy: https://intothecrowdmagazine.com/2013/05/31/live-photos-young-guns-the-sound-academy-toronto/

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