That rock ‘n’ roll eh? Despite a smattering of tabloid journalists announcing the demise of ‘guitar music’, it keeps rearing itswell-styled head to wreak havoc upon stages across the country.
ESP’s Alex Jones caught up with drummer Ben Jolliffe during their tour in the US to talk about the new album, the new tour and why a depressed astronaut is a perfect choice for an album cover…
Alex – So you’re currently coming to an end of a US tour, what are the main differences between playing a show in a place like Tampa Florida and the one you’ll be playing in Peterborough next month?
Ben – “In terms of touring the US it’s pretty different, mainly because of the size of the country. I think the longest drive we did in the UK was four maybe five hours, whereas over here that’s the length of the shortest trips. The average travel time is probably around 10 hours, so yeah a lot more travelling.
“But when you’re in the venue, it’s not a million miles away, the crowds have been a little bit older actually but our performances are the same, we try and give as much energy and have just as much fun!”
Alex – Your third album Ones and Zeros is out next month, you’ve released a few tracks already including one of my favourite songs at the moment Daylight, how was the recording process for the album this time round?
Ben – “It was crazy actually, it was the first time we had a lot of time to actually put together a record and try different ideas. Some of the songs we had written in New York two years ago, we write a few in San Francisco, some on tour and some back home in London, so each song has its own time, place and story.
“We didn’t rush things, we wanted to make sure we got it right and that every decision we made was valid. With our last album Bones, it was a bit rushed and even though we were aware we’d been away a while, we had belief in the songs and wanted to make them sound as big as possible. We didn’t want a ‘Bones’ part two, we wanted to push ourselves.”
Alex – So with every song having its own identity, we can assume you haven’t gone and made a concept album?
Ben – “No, to be honest when we started writing the album we didn’t think, ‘oh we need to do this and that’, we just knew we needed to push ourselves. If you come back after two years with a similar album as the last, sure, some people are going to like it but we wouldn’t have been happy with it ourselves.
“We tried to write the best songs we could and we made sure they were tracks that, as a band, we loved. It wasn’t what we thought people wanted us to do; it was what we wanted to do.”
Ben – “We had so many different ideas, originally, you know, the albums called Ones and Zeros so we thought, should we go down the binary code route? But we didn’t want to do something so obvious, and then Craig saw that image online somewhere, and it turns out it was a sculpture.
“For me it evokes a feeling of emptiness, it’s this big empty room with this astronaut looking slightly deflated, it really makes you think. If nothing else, we wanted the cover to be striking and that image certainly gets your attention.”
Alex – As I mentioned before you’re returning to the UK next month playing a string of headline shows, including a show at The Cresset in Peterborough on Monday June 1, what can your fans expect in terms of songs, will they get a lot of new material?
Ben – “It’s tough, when we used to go to shows we’d always moan at the bands that would play too much new material, because fans want to hear their favourites. Obviously we’ll play the new tracks that everyone will have heard, the new single for example, but it’ll be a good mix of old and new.
“We always try and get tracks in the set from every album. We’re looking forward to playing the new stuff, but the older tracks are still great to give a run out as well.”
Alex – I heard your cover of Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees, are cover versions something you guys enjoy doing?
Ben – “We don’t really do them often at all, like in sound check and when we practice it’s always our own material but when we do decide to cover a track we really enjoy it.
“We’ve done a version of Say it Ain’t So by Weezer and Wicked Games by The Weeknd and it’s quite nice to play other peoples music, break it down and see how other artists have put songs together.”
Alex – What about different versions of your own songs, I’ve heard a few acoustic renditions you guys have done of your own tracks.
Ben – “We love doing it, especially with the new material, a lot of it was written acoustically. We started off with a lot of simple rhythms and melodies because if a song works in its rawest form, that’s a sign, it’s a good song!
“It’s especially great for me as the drummer, because I get to just sit there, nice and easy and tap on a box! But it’s certainly something we want to do more of in future, because the new stuff sounds great stripped back.”
Young Guns’ third album Ones and Zeros is released Monday June 8. The band play the Cresset on Monday June 1, you can purchase tickets from www.cresset.co.uk.