2006 was most definitely the year for The Young Knives’, and I caught up with them before their NME awards show in London, to find out what 2007 had in store for them.
Hi Henry, thank you for taking the time out to talk to us, what are the band doing at them moment?
Well we’re all in the dressing room in Shepherd’s Bush having sound-checked for tonight’s NME awards show.
Are you looking forward to any of the other bands on the bill tonight?
My band, they’re the best! Haha. No, I’m looking forward to seeing them all, I’ve seen all of them except Datarock before so I’ll make sure I watch them too, they’ve been set for big things.
You say you hail from Ashby-de-la-Zouch, that’s the home of Adrian Mole, Sue Townsend’s character, have you read his diaries?
Yes, but ages ago, and I don’t actually think I read all of them.
Well, my favourite was Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾, did your teenage years reflect his in any way?
Well I think I had a pretty normal teenage life, I had all of the normal experiences in popularity and love that everyone has.
Are you a band that gets lots of groupies?
Well when we’re on tour we tend to get groupies in the sense of 18 year old boys but not in the making love to them way, in the nerdy, geeky way. But we tend to keep ourselves to ourselves really, don’t get me wrong we have time for the fans, and it’s always great to go out and meet them when they say “oh I think you’re really great” but we try not to wallow in it and start believing we’re invincible, I don’t think that’s very healthy.
Do you enjoy touring?
Yes, I enjoy it a lot more now. It was very daunting at first as I enjoy being at home. I’m quite happy on my own writing music, and I’m not massively into going out, I was always quite lazy but now I know its not going to last forever and I’m not going to tour for the rest of my life, so I look forward to it, it means you don’t have to worry about responsibilities like washing up etc its almost quite routine in a way, and like a separate life. I always enjoy playing live though, it’s the best part, I really feel like I can show off to people that want to hear it.
What’s the worst part about touring?
I think there’s pros and cons to touring, and most of the time the pros outweigh the cons. I think that it’s mainly missing home comforts, and my girlfriend and my dog and things but you it gets balanced out with the fact that I get to play live. It totally messes up your body clock, as you play at 11, the performance is part of your day, you go out, don’t get to bed until 5 in the morning and then you don’t wake up until about midday, it does really mess you up. But then there’s a massive amount of showing off involved which is great!
Do you enjoy a wild party or would you rather settle down with a nice cup of tea and a good film?
Despite the tweed suits we do go out, you get used to the idea of going out and going mad, we do go out and have fun, but we’re not huge drugs and booze fiends. I do like to have nights in though, it’s like Sundays when I’m not on tour I just escape, go for a long walk and spend time in my world, it’s nice both ways really.
Are there any town’s crowds you enjoy playing to the most?
It changes, and to be fair it depends on the venues, northern crowds are amazing, I love playing to Manchester, Newcastle, and Glasgow is always crazy. Our home town shows in Oxford are always pretty exciting and this tour I’m really looking forward to playing in Loughborough as it’s where we all grew up and we have our song Loughborough Suicide, and we’ve never played there yet!
Do you have plans for this summer, are you doing any festivals?
Yes, we’re doing T in the Park and Reading and Leeds. I love playing festivals, the crowds are always so big and it’s just the one off show, festivals are my favourite time of year.
How would you describe your sound to someone that’s never heard your stuff?
I always hate questions like that, because for me that’s like saying how would you describe the taste of food?! I don’t know, we’re melodic. Actually that’s a silly thing to say, I think we’re exciting, fun, fresh.
Do you reckon there’s something different about you to all the other bands of the moment?
I’d hope so, I think there’s that element when we write that we want it to be different, we want there to be something that people can say, I’ve not heard anything like that before.
2006 was pretty much your year so far, you released your album, which received great acclaim. Who and what influenced it?
Well we kind of took lots of post punk influences, musically I mean, there’s lots of albums and artists, people like Costello and his Soft Boys album. We tried to get a different attitude out on the record, something that people would pick up and say “oh yeah, this is good, and this is different”.
It’s called voices of animals and men, what’s the story behind the fantastic artwork?
Well we were looking at all sorts of different album covers and we wanted something that matched our music, something different, I mean not naming names but we didn’t want it to be plain and uninteresting, and we were quite up for something amusing. When the cover was shown to us we thought it was fantastic because we’d seen things like Beck’s Odelay album cover and thought it was fantastic, and it fit perfectly with the album title.
Do you have a personal favourite track off the album?
Again this is something that always changes, depending on my mood but I’d say Decisions or Loughborough Suicide.
Did you have much of a musical childhood and did you always want to be in a band?
No. I had piano lessons as a kid but was completely uninspired. In the end my piano teacher gave up and to try and keep me interested made me play things like the A-Team theme tune! I never really thought about being in a band, I never really thought about music in general, I mean I only got a guitar when I was 15 or 16 as my best friend had one too. We started a band, you know what they’re like, pretty rubbish, and then when I found the right people and we realised we were on to something. It just kind of went right and is still there.
You’re signed to the trendy Transgressive Records, what’s the vibe like within, I mean at the Transgressive Roadshow at the Warehouse Project in Manchester it seemed like it was all one big happy family, is that the case?
Sort of, I mean we all speak to each other and get on really well, but as we’re not from London it’s not like we can just go and hang out in each others houses like some other bands do. I love all the other bands on the label, the Mystery Jets we get on really well with. The best thing about being on Transgressive however is the enthusiasm they have for The Young Knives, they’re like our link to the outside world, and they get our music onto the shelves and into people’s homes. Whenever I write new stuff and play it to them, their reaction is the most important to me.
2007 will no doubt be another successful year for you, do you have a band that you can tip for big things this year too?
The Rumble Strips are set for big things I think, and I love an American band called Cold War Kids. I’ve known them since they were nothing and they played SXSW in the US last year. I’ve always been a fan and it’s getting exciting now they’re getting loads of coverage and even being played on Dermot’s show on radio 2! They’re so good because they’re different. They are a properly interesting band, not run of the mill and they have such a good attitude towards music.
What does 2007 have in store for you?
Well we’ve written our new album, well most of the songs we think, though we’ll probably not end up using them eventually! There’ll be a single out in about June and we’re going on tour in about 3 weeks. That should be good. Then we’ve got the festivals, and at some point we’ll be recording our album this year which could either be out late 2007 or next year, but that all depends on the record company once we’ve recorded it!
You must have done hundreds of interviews, and been asked the same questions, what’s the one question that you’ve never been asked, and would like to be?
So why is he called the House of Lords?
Because he’s as fat as a house! Ha, no, he thinks it’s because of the power he has, which he doesn’t really, we just let him think that he does.
Haha, ok then for spontaneity what type of chocolate bar would you be and why?
A Dime bar. They’re amazing. I’d be a Dime bar because they are the best chocolate bar in the world. You can eat them and not feel like you’ve eaten too much chocolate, yet have the absolute satisfaction of having eaten chocolate!
Cheers for that Henry, lastly where and when can people see you on tour?
March 23 – Loughborough University
March 24 – Birmingham Academy
March 25 – Oxford Brookes SU
March 26 – Manchester Academy 2
March 27 – Newcastle Academy
March 29 – Leeds University
March 30 – Glasgow QMU
March 31 – Nottingham Rock City
April 1 – Norwich Waterfront
April 2 – Bristol Anson Rooms
April 5 – Kingston New Slang
April 6 – Portsmouth Pyramid
April 7 – Cardiff University