It’s safe to say that Young Guns have been missed over the past few years. With the recent release of new material from their upcoming third album, Ones and Zeros, it seems safe to say that they’re back and bigger than ever.
From festival stages to my little local venue – where I’m interviewing the band – Young Guns seem to have ticked a lot of boxes over the past seven years. I sat down with vocalist Gus Wood and guitarist Fraser Taylor to talk about the future of the band, hobbits, and Wham! Yes, really.
So, third night of the tour this evening. How’s it been so far?
Fraser: Yeah, it’s only been two days so far but it’s been amazing. It’s our first headline tour in the UK for nearly three years, so it’s just really mind-blowing that so many people even want to come back to see us.
You just thought you’d be playing to empty rooms?
Gus: Well, you never know, that’s the honest truth. We’ve been busy, we’ve just not been busy in the UK. We’ve been abroad for most of that time, but the more time you spend away the more you think about how much you want to be [back in the UK]. We’re here now, and that’s great, but we were interested to see how it was going to go and the first two shows have been really, really good – they’ve been great and we’ve been kind of over the moon with it all.
There’s quite a queue outside already, I don’t know if you’ve seen it…
Gus: Yeah, it’s even longer since we were last in Colchester because the last tour was larger cities, like Manchester and London, so we haven’t played here in maybe four years. It’s lovely to be back here and it’s wicked that there are people waiting to see us.
The new album, Ones and Zeros, is out in June. Are you testing a lot of new material in the set list tonight?
Gus: We’re playing fourteen or fifteen songs…
Fraser: And four or five of them are from the new record, I’d say.
Have they been going down quite well?
Gus: They have! I mean, some of them people have heard already – the majority of them, in fact. We’re playing a song called ‘I Want Out’ which we released towards the end of last year. ‘Speaking in Tongues’ we put out recently and we did a video for it. We’ve got a track called ‘Rising Up’ which we put online a few weeks ago. The last one’s a song called ‘Daylight’, which is just an album track that people haven’t heard yet.
You’ve been away for quite a while. Is it a huge relief for people to finally hear the new songs?
Fraser: Absolutely, I think we wrote ‘I Want Out’ in 2012…?
Fraser: Okay, the beginning of 2013 – even then it’s been two years. We’ve been sitting on these songs for a really long time, so it’s just a relief to get them out there. I just want everyone to hear the record now!
Gus: Yeah, I want everyone to hear it so then we can get on and write the next one! Just because we’ve had the songs for quite a while. But because we signed to Virgin and various things like that, it’s just taken a long time, but we’re really proud of what’s on the album.
You guys have obviously taken a lot of time and a lot of care on Ones and Zeros – were there any songs you loved which didn’t make the final cut?
Gus: That’s interesting. We tend to be one of those bands that has a shedload of bits and pieces – choruses, melodies, progressions – something that we’ll love and then when we write an album we try to flesh everything out to fully realise them as songs. So as for having any fully completed songs, I don’t think any missed the cut. There were certainly bits of music that I loved which weren’t finished, so didn’t make it.
Fraser: I think there’s one full song that’s not going on the standard version of the album and that’s it.
If you had to pick one song from the album and say it was your favourite, which one would you pick?
Gus: One you haven’t heard? I’d say it’s a song called ‘Lullaby’.
Fraser: Yeah, I was going to go for that one as well! But now I’ll have to choose another one. Probably ‘Rising Up’, which is a song we put out a couple of weeks ago and we’ve been playing it live for a while. It’s definitely my favourite song to play live.
You’ve just been announced for 2000 Trees and T in the Park this summer. Are there certain conscious changes you make when going from shows like this to a festival stage?
Gus: I think sometimes you have to look at the place you’re playing and act accordingly. There’s an argument that says you should always just do your thing and I think, by and large, that’s what we aim for. But, if we’re playing a festival that’s predominantly on the lighter side of the spectrum, we won’t play a set full of our heavier songs. When you play larger stages at festivals it’s a very different experience – you’re playing to a load of people, it’s a very different atmosphere, everyone’s there to have a good time or get wasted or do whatever they want to do with their weekend, and that’s a lot of fun. It’s a totally different experience to the club shows, where it’s sweaty and intimate and there’s more immediacy. They’re both different, but we just try to go out and play as hard and with as much energy as we can, which seems to have stood us in good stead so far.
Do you guys prefer dong the smaller shows or festivals?
Fraser: They’re just completely different, so I honestly don’t know! There’s something about a room full of people that are all just there to see you and know all the words to all the songs. Whereas, you go to a festival and you’re just going to get some casual people who maybe haven’t heard you before. But that’s great as well because you wouldn’t just get that if you just did smaller shows.
Gus: And it’s not that playing solely to people who know and love your music isn’t great, but sometimes it’s really fun to play to people who don’t know your music. I think it’s really rewarding if people enjoy it and they didn’t know your band before, and there’s this feeling that you’ve maybe gained some new fans, which is really good.
After this question we’re going to move on to some fan questions. Lastly, though, which bands would you recommend for our Nelipott Introducing feature?
Fraser: Well, I think they’re starting to get there, but the band supporting us on the second leg of this tour are called Nothing But Thieves. They’re quite a new band but they’re getting a lot of radio play, but I’m not sure if people know who they are. Like, they might know their music but they don’t really know them as a band.
Gus: I would say they’re probably the best new band from the UK that I’ve heard in a long time. I love bands that are doing really interesting, cool and exciting things. Nothing But Thieves are one of two bands that are really doing it for me at the moment, as well as Marmozets, but everybody knows who they are now.
@KitsuneGray – I’ve noticed you all wear necklaces all the time. Is it a special band thing? Who has what pendant and why?
Gus: It’s definitely not a band thing.
Fraser: You spend so much time together that you kind of just morph into one another…
Gus: I think we share similar interests in terms of the way we like to dress. We enjoy nice clothes and jewellery and all that kind of stuff. Although, I looked at pictures from five years ago – people keep sending them to me from when we first met or whatever – and I think I’m dressed like shit, I’ve got no idea what was going on! I went through a phase where I was clearly really cold and wore two beanies…
Nelipott: Two beanies? How does that even happen?
Gus: I honestly wish I could tell you. Apparently I was not fashionable back then.
@Taz_xDxD – If you could be in any film, what would you be in and why?
Gus: I was asked the other day which movie I’d like to become real life…
Nelipott: Oh that’s a great question! What did you choose?
Gus: I chose Jurassic Park.
Nelipott: That’s cool but surely it has the potential to go really, really wrong?
Gus: It’s never gone right, has it? But I’d still like to go. If I could act in any film…Interview With A Vampire would be cool.
Fraser: I think I’d go for Lord of the Rings.
Nelipott: What would you be? Would you be a hobbit?
Gus: Surely you’d have to be a hobbit! Or an elf maybe…
Fraser: I’d definitely rather be an elf than a hobbit.
Gus: I just think, living out in Bag End…
Nelipott: Nice country living – I don’t really know why they felt the need to leave.
Gus: Exactly, and it all went wrong when they did!
@charlottetheemo – Can you sing the alphabet backwards?
Gus: How do you sing the alphabet?
Nelipott Author’s Note: to my eternal shame I did, in fact, demonstrate singing the alphabet in front of Young Guns, who looked on bemusedly.
Gus: Oh right! No, I don’t think I could do that. I don’t even know if I could say it backwards, to be honest with you.
Fraser: No way.
Gus: If I tried, we’d be here for half an hour.
Finally, a question from my mum. When I mentioned I was interviewing you she only had one question on her lips. Can I get, on record, if your band is named after the Wham! song?
Gus: We’ve never had that one, actually! We’ve been asked about the film. We weren’t named after the Wham! song, I’m afraid.
Nelipott: I didn’t think you would be. Now I’m going to have to go home and break my mum’s heart.
Gus: You could lie?
Fraser: We did use [the Wham! song] as an intro once. But then everything broke when the song came on, so all you could hear was ‘young guns!’
After finally establishing that Young Guns were not as obsessed with Wham! as I hoped they might be, we wrapped up the interview. Hours later, I watched as the Buckinghamshire quartet laid waste to Colchester Arts Centre, smiles on their faces the whole time.
Young Guns are well and truly back and more explosive than ever. Get yourself a ticket to one of their shows, pre-order the new album and follow them on Twitter or Facebook for updates. You’ll regret it if you don’t.