The bare 'Bones': A Young Guns interview
We talk to YG bassist Simon Mitchell...
Chris Eustace - 17 July 2012
Those auspicious beginnings to touring life for Young Guns and their friends Deaf Havana sum up nicely the bond between the two bands and the community feel in UK rock at the moment. As YG bassist Simon Mitchell has it, it’s one based on helping hands and hard graft.
“We’ve both been touring and touring ever since then to try and make our mark” he says. “Obviously we have a similar kind of fanbase to people like Deaf Havana, We Are The Ocean and Lower Than Atlantis, and it’s nice that your fans can relate to your friends’ bands. It’s a reason why everything’s so strong. Everyone in that scene is so close and we help each other out.”
That everything seems on an upward curve still flies in the face of the seemingly endless stream of “guitar music is dead” articles that littered the start of the year. For Simon, there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary: “If guitar music was dead, things wouldn’t be like they are at the moment. Kids wouldn’t be buying the tickets, or the merch or the records, or checking out all the music online like they are. Our next London show is at Shepherds Bush Empire, and we’re close to selling that out, and Deaf Havana are doing the same venue. A quick look at how things like that are doing is proof for me that our scene is still thriving.”
As the band look forward to their biggest tour yet in the autumn, and with a Top 20 album under their belts in ‘Bones’ (“It was ridiculous! We never expected it to go so high”), they’re itching to get to the big venues, following a tour of intimate venues on the eve of the album’s release: ”It was really exciting to go back to small shows,” Simon reflects. “They’re high energy and sweaty and you’re closer to everyone. With bigger shows, there’s more people and the sound is generally better. We’ll have some production for October. It’s not going to be Motley Crue, we want to keep it simple but effective.”
Just because things might be getting a bit slicker doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten to keep supporting the next in line,, as Mitchell enthuses over the hand-picked supports for the tour: “ Your Demise are friends of ours, and it’ll be fun to take The Xcerts to Europe with us as they’ve supported us over here before.”
As for his new favourite band? “I think Marmozets are brilliant. I’m really jealous of their musical abilities, plus they’re the nicest guys ever! We’re taking them out on the UK tour – They have a new single [‘Good Days’/’Skin’] out soon which everyone should check out. They’re brutal! I think they’ll do really well. “
‘Bones’ is a more ambitious and diverse work than debut ‘All Our Kings Are Dead’, but Simon insists there was no masterplan: “We wanted to make the songs a bit more direct, but we wrote with no intentions to make it anything other than ‘our’ sound,” he says. “We didn’t think about going heavier or poppier, it was just what came out. We just wrote and wrote, and picked the best ones.”
Heading off to Thailand to record the album with former SikTh guitarist Dan Weller shaped things to a degree, as the bass player admits: “There’s a couple of songs that took the influence of the surroundings. We actually recorded one of the songs outside so you could hear things like insects and the wind. Every recording process is stressful to a degree, but being there helped!” he laughs.
Such has been the whirlwind of touring since the album’s release that the band haven’t even played all of the songs from it live yet, and Mitchell is looking forward to the chance to play more of them: “We’re waiting for the headline tour. It’ll be great to play ‘You Are Not’, as it’s one of my favourites off the album. At the moment I love playing ‘I Was Born, I Have Lived, I Will Surely Die’, the first track on the album. We’ve been opening with it live too. it’s quite a statement.”
Before that tour comes a summer of festivals, and as always, it’s a relentless schedule: “We came back from Japan a couple of weeks ago, and from now ‘til when we go to the US in September we’re just doing festivals. Over here we’re doing Redfest, Boardmasters and Reading & Leeds. We are super stoked to be playing that, we’re quite high up the bill there, and we’ll have a few things up our sleeve for that one. It’s the one that we went to as kids.”
In fact, it seems that Simon went to so many festivals as a punter, his memory’s getting hazy: “Yeah I went to festivals all the time. Reading was the standard one, and I was a bit of a punk kid so I went to festivals like Deconstruction and Give It A Name back in the day. Deftones at Download 2010 are one of the best things I’ve ever seen, along with Slipknot at Reading, can’t remember the year, after a while it all blurs into one!”
With a festival career refreshingly free of disasters so far (“apart from missing the odd train and flight, we’ve been pretty lucky”), it was left to their biggest headline show to date, at the Forum in London earlier this year, for the gremlins to finally show up. “We hired in all this big lighting production specially for it. After the first song, the lighting rig shut down” Simon recalls.
“We’d spent all this money, and all our family and friends were there. In the end, we went back on and just played with these two spotlights, it doesn’t get more simple than that! But the crowd were literally insane, they made the show. It was really special, and proof that you don’t need a massive production to make a show good.”
While that’s a sentiment that anyone about to take the stage at the White Rabbit should keep in mind, it’s
likely that the power will be well and truly on when you catch Young
Guns this summer.
Young Guns will be headlining the staunchly independent festival Redfest this year alongside Missing Andy, Foreign Beggars, Modestep and Kids in Glass Houses. With a reputation for championing emerging bands and conveniently located in Redhill, Surrey, Redfest 2012 will take place 20-22nd July.
Click here for more information and tickets for Redfest.