London-based Young Guns have been leaving their mark on audiences in the United States for a few years now. They are just over a month away from releasing their fourth full length album, Echoes, and are currently part of the multi-city Vans Warped Tour. Young Guns are fully enjoying their summer due to the great crowds, good food and the beautiful scenery. In between tour dates, I had an opportunity to connect with lead singer Gustav Wood.
While Echoes won’t be released until September 16, fans can get a taste of what’s to come at one of their live shows. Performing show after show on the Vans Warped Tour can quickly become monotonous, but Young Guns find each Warped Tour date exciting. Gustav explains, “[The tour is] kept fresh day to day because although the set is the same, the city, the crowd, the time you play… all of these things are different. It’s exciting and chaotic and great to be a part of.” Rising Up, from their 2015 album, Ones and Zeros, has also been added to the Vans Warped Tour compilation CD (available now). When asked if he could have chosen a song from Echoes, he said he would pick the title track stating not only is he proud of it, he feels it is an interesting song.
The cover art for Echoes is very intriguing and fans might be surprised to find there is a talented artist within the band. Gustav shared, “It was actually created by Fraser our guitarist. He’s a great photographer and we hired a studio for a few days and shot lots of different setups, with models, etc., but in the end his stuff he did at home on his own time appealed to us more. It’s a mixture of oils and paints and wax swirling around photographed up close and just felt otherworldly and dreamlike which fit with the idea for the title.”
If you were to view the song titles, you may notice they follow a potential theme. When asked if the album was meant to be listened to in song order, Gustav said they spent a lot of time trying to get the tracklisting right. However, he commented, “The way people listen to music is changing all the time and as long as they’re listening, they’re free to do so however they choose.” He added, “There isn’t a set narrative it’s just a body of work where the songs connect to each other.”
Gustav went on to comment that the album was written and recorded very quickly. “We wrote it in 8 weeks and recorded it in 5 – a PB [personal best] for us!” Having parted ways with drummer Ben Jolliffe this past November, Gustav and guitarists Fraser Taylor and John Taylor, along with bassist Simon Mitchell decided to channel the situation into something positive instead of negative. “It felt like the start of a new chapter as opposed to the end of another, if that makes sense. We then went to record it with David Bendeth in New Jersey and it was so liberating to write and record an album so spontaneously, it made us fall in love with being in a band again.” Watch behind the scenes footage here.
Losing a long time band member leaves the opportunity for a lasting impact on a the rest of the band. However, after splitting with Jolliffe, Gustav admitted the remaining band members changed the way they interacted with each other. “We listen to each other more now than perhaps we did in the past. It’s really refreshing.” He went on to share how new drummer Chris Kamrada has made an impact on the band. “He’s a really strong creative presence in the band which is really exciting, someone that brings new ideas to the table.”
Changing the line-up and camaraderie within an existing dynamic can be an uncertain path for a band to take. While fans will surely see the positive impact of welcoming a new member into the fold along with the hard work from all members to be seen in the form of their new album, Gustav hopes fans will discover what the band already feels about themselves. “We feel reborn and like we’re only just getting started so forget what you know about us and come in fresh. It’s our best album and is a new us.”
Taking a step back to some of Gustav’s first memories of music and what lead him to being in a band, he recalled falling in love with his mother’s and older brother’s musical tastes. “Early memories are of my mum downstairs on a Saturday morning singing along to her favourites like Roxy Music and Michael Jackson. Happy memories. I was inspired to start playing when I was taught to play guitar by my brother when I was maybe 13 years old. I just wanted to be able to play along to Green Day songs!” Growing up he was also influenced by bands like Nirvana, Metallica, Foo Fighters, Placebo and Smashing Pumpkins and admitted to discovering bands while raiding his brother’s CD collection. As for new bands that have grabbed his attention, he is fond of Sykes, which he refers to as a “good Chvrches-esque band” along with fellow Warped Tour mates The Word Alive, Crown the Empire and Emarosa. The album he most likely has a repeat these days? To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere, the new album from Thrice.
For those that take the idea of starting a band, recording music and touring and turn it into a reality, soon find it is either everything they thought it would be or an unexpected eye-opening experience to one of the toughest jobs due to the massive changes within the music industry. However, success is defined differently depending on the person you are asking and their experience in the business. Gustav shared his thoughts on success stating, “For me, it’s being able to do something you are passionate about and that makes you feel alive and like you have a purpose, for a living. I have seen parts of the world I never dreamed of seeing before, because of what I do, and met people that I never would have otherwise met. I will never leave music because it’s never left me.”
Aside from Vans Warped Tour, Young Guns will be playing some pretty big festivals this year. Not only do they hope to make an impression on the people in attendance, their goal is to ultimately win over new fans. “You have to be hungry, but that is true of all things when it comes to being in a band.” As for the fans that are already on board, Gustav shared that no matter what country fans reside in, every one of them have the same thing in common. “We are all fans of music and we connect over a shared passion for something. It crosses borders, languages, and is a universal thing that brings people together. I love it.”
Find all upcoming dates here and watch the video for Bullet Proof below.