It’s the final night of the tour for Essex-bred rockers, Young Guns. The alt-rock quintet have been busy touring over the past couple of months, teasing us with snippets of their third studio album Ones and Zeros. The refreshingly danceable record has been streamed online, promising a new and exciting direction for the band.
Whilst drummer Ben is preoccupied shaving Fraser’s hair and vocalist Gus excuses himself answering fan questions on Reddit, I sit down with guitarists John and Simon for a quick chat on festivals, the promises of their album and er…Taylor Swift.
I think we’ve been pretty fortunate to be honest. I wouldn’t really change anything… it’s best to not have too many regrets.
Talk us through your new album Ones and Zeros. What were the main concepts behind the record and what makes it different from what you’ve done before?
John: I don’t think we really thought that consciously about it. I guess our music tastes have changed over the past three years. I feel it’s like a natural progression for us. We listen to a wide range of music and I feel that that’s pretty evident in the new album.
Simon: We kind of naturally evolve. The songs that we did on [the previous album] Bones, represent a time and a place, they’re songs that we felt were right at the time. I guess since then, as John said, our musical tastes change, but we’ve also returned to a lot of the stuff we listened to growing up – all the 80’s pop and rock and everything else! It’s pretty much a natural evolution of the band.
Do you guys find you have different music tastes between you?
Simon: No we actually all like the same thing!
So what would you listen to on the tour bus in-between shows?
John: A lot of Taylor Swift and Carly Rae Jepson. We’re actually listening to the new Twenty One Pilots album – we’re loving that at the moment!
This album’s been in production for at least two years. How does it feel to finally be playing new content?
John: It’s a relief. We’ve been sitting on it for a really long time and there were moments were we thought it would never actually be released. It was a real ball-ache! It does feel really great to have some good feedback from it now. You never know how people are going to react to your music, luckily so far the reaction has been amazing.
Simon: We released ‘I Want Out’ and then ‘Speaking in Tongues’ before the album even came out – we’ve been playing them on tour for quite a while. It’s been quite cool to play those new songs and see how people react.
Is there a song in particular that’s done really well?
John: ‘Rising Up’ is probably my favourite. It’s the first song off the album. It’s got a good bounce to it and it’s just fun playing live.
You were a surprise act for Download this year, was that hard to keep to yourselves?
John: We kind of just told people anyway. We really wanted to do a lot of festivals this year and we’re performing on quite a small stage so it’s going to be really rowdy and great.
You’ve been bouncing in-between Reading Festival and Download over the past few years – which one is your favourite to perform at?
Simon: For me personally it would have to be Reading Festival, because we went there religiously as kids. It’s literally down the road from us!
If you could play with anyone who would that be?
Simon: Dead or alive? Michael Jackson for me!
John: I just can’t imagine that, Young Guns and Michael Jackson? Hmmm… I’d probably say AC/DC. That would be really fun. We’ve been to see them a couple of times down in London and it’s the loudest show I’ve ever been to.
Would you say AC/DC have influenced you musically?
John: Yeah absolutely. They were one of the first cassettes I ever owned. AC/DC’s ‘Live’ – I used to listen to that on repeat.
What’s been your best live moment so far?
John: I’d probably say Reading main stage just because, as Simon said, we went to it a lot as kids. The first time we did it we were bricking it. You’re so used to being in the crowd looking at the stage and to have that reversed… it was such a bizarre experience! You were sick weren’t you Simon?
Simon: I was so nervous! I’d never been sick before a show before. For me the best live moment was The Forum (London) headline show, when all the lights went off. We basically hired in this lighting guy, spent a bunch of money to have a really sick set up and then the power for the main rig went off and we couldn’t get it back on. For about twenty minutes Gus [vocals] had to entertain the crowd, literally just by himself before we could actually play. We ended up playing with this one spotlight on us, just a back-up light or something. But it was amazing because it didn’t affect the crowd, if anything it just pumped everyone up and they were loving it. So that was definitely a highlight for me.
John: Erm… drink less? Sleep more? I don’t know. I think we’ve been pretty fortunate to be honest. I wouldn’t really change anything… it’s best to not have too many regrets.
Simon: We’ve been quite fortunate in the sense that it’s worked for us. But we work hard and we make sure we take all the opportunities we get and it’s a combination of that and making the right decisions on the way. You have to go through the bad times to learn how to improve, it’s a constant improvement and learning process. We’re still learning now.