Ahead of their tour dates with Taking Back Sunday and Lost Prophets, Glasswerk caught up with singer Gustav of Kerrang-nominated young British hopefuls, the aptly named Young Guns, as they played Harry’s Bar Stoke, to discuss the band’s past, present and future.
Gustav, how are you? How has the tour been?
Very well. We’ve been relatively decently behaved compared to previous circuit tours around. But it’s still been fun hanging with the guys from ‘None the Less’, before—and after– the shows. Especially Leeds and the body parts incident—but perhaps I shouldn’t really discuss that!
So tell me- who are Young Guns, and when did they become so?
Well, as for when we started, about eighteen months ago would be the official date, although it seemed to just happen naturally; we were in lots of other bands and sort of came together quickly through mutual friends and hangouts. I’m originally a London kid, from the rough end, but the rest of the guys are Bucks, and now I suppose you could classify us as a Bucks band.
Our sound is harder to define. It wasn’t calculated that we vaguely fit into or react against any particular scene or fashion, we just came to Young Guns from listening to records across the spectrum. We’re a rock band, hard rock if you like; that’s probably the best way, because it’s the most open-ended, of describing us. Within those perimeter’s we can be a lot of things – melodic, reflective and also I guess aggressive, although we don’t incorporate ,say, screamo vocals into the mix. There might be a lot of familiar elements within our music but we’ve always set out to be different without being dishonest, contrived etc .
Did this elusive quality make it harder to get gigs at the start , or put you on some weird line-ups? And could you give us an idea of the bands that inspired you?
We’re not a band who subscribe to one scene, which made it hard for promoters perhaps to know how to book us, and ended up on a lot of mixed bills—from indie rock to metal. As you can hear from the line-up this evening. But that’s pretty much consistent with our disparate influences. It helps to, as we do, have a very cool management set-up, which has definitely helped us get more exposure to ‘mirror’ our progress. Inspiration wise, the other band members come from listening and playing punk, whilst I’d been more of a metal kid. I suppose i’d be remiss in not citing Thrice as a major, though not sole, influence in terms of the mix of styles and the emotional roots. And also in terms of my lyric-writing.
Does a Bucks scene exist, and is there anyone you’d recommend?
It does exist up to a point, although I wouldn’t say there’s necessarily some, uh, homogenous sound and, with the caveat that we’re friends with these bands, Out of Sight, Deathhum. Definitely several bands you`ll be hearing more of with any luck.
So, returning to you, in terms of non-musical forms, where does Gustav get his inspiration from?
Well, life stories, but I’m also a bit of literature geek. It isn’t’ contrived, as in–
You won't be writing any concept albums just yet
–No(laughs).That Lit sensibility’s just there in my make-up, along with being a front-man. I think I’m still trying to figure out my voice as a lyricist, which goes back to the point about us being a young band. We’re evolving. But the inspiration definitely comes from the combination of art bearing on life in a way hopefully the words and sounds express. Though I certainly used to read a lot of classic world literature. At one point around 16, I was also really into that emotive Bronte style- Wuthering Heights, Romanticism. There’s still an element of that in the songs.
How do Young Guns write? Is it normally ‘bring lyrics into studio, bring parts in and fuse them together’, or more spontaneous?
Well, we’re lucky enough to have our own permanent rehearsal space—after scraping together funds. No-one brings in full songs or anything-it all comes together organically. And we’re really meticulous, as in parts get thought about, re-written, and re-arranged. It isnt’ just ‘dash off a riff’ then throwing in a few lyrics. The vocal melodies I write myself and obviously ideas occur outside the studio, for the others as well, but the writing itself is very collective, goes through several stages.
This new Ep you’ve released; tell me about how it came together?
It’s four tracks which represent where we’re at, and it’s called Mirrors. More? It got released June 22 through ourselves, being unsigned. Its available on i-tunes and through our website along with discerning record stores, but we’re hoping to widen the release as much as possible. And it was recorded with the guys from Sikth, if you remember, one of the best British metal acts in years- sadly they’re not anymore, but the members are still doing their things and—it was really rad, very stimulating.
So what about the cover art. In line with your DIY ethos, did you guys design it or call in friends?
Well, there was definitely creative input on our parts, but it was actually designed by Johnny Truant’s guitarist Stuart, who did their covers. We were down in a studio actually working with Justin and Dan, when we noticed the final Johnny Truant album designs, and thought, wow, this is pretty striking and, we got it arranged. He’s a really good designer actually. We want something slightly more classical than the conventional cover art associated with—whichever genre people like to fit us into.
And the future?
We’re going to be playing with Taking Back Sunday and Lost Prophets, then of course Slonicsphere which is absolutely going to be amazing. It’ll be surreal playing alongside bands that have-certainly inspired me personally—like Metallica. It’s crazy. At some point, dependent on what we get offered but ideally by early next year, we’d like to release a full length. We’d like to embrace that DIY aesthetic for as long as it’s sustainable really, and I think that with myspace and all the other on-line networks and the relative ease in recording demos compared to maybe in the past for very small bands, there’s a healthy model there as long as you’re not planning on—stadium tours or super-producers. We’re just very excited to do be doing what we’re doing now, spreading the sound, meeting more and more fans and bands, playing events like Sonicsphere and beyond that- who knows?