Sunday 5 February 2012

Gustav Wood - Young Guns // Interview & Review

Young Guns are back with a new album and new tour. The Bare Bones Club Tour was one of our featured events to watch out for and the boys didn’t disappoint! We caught up with lead singer Gustav Wood ahead of the sold out show at The Well here in Leeds.

Hey Gustav, so the Bare Bones Club Tour – it began last night with a hometown show in High Wycombe. How was it?
Gustav- It was great, it was really good. The first night of the tour, you kind of spend it figuring out what works, what doesn’t work, what you need to tweak with the set. So, you always have your first night kinks to work out but it was great. We spent a little while playing shows abroad now; we just got back from China and Thailand so it’s really nice to feel like 2012 is fu*****g beginning. I have to be honest with you, I’m not bullshitting you, Leeds is one of our favourite places. Every time we play here it just seems that something great happens, it goes right. And people in Leeds they’re really up for a good time.

Gustav on stage at Leeds
You’re playing more intimate venues on this tour- are you looking forward to it being more personal?
G- Yeah I think we were lucky with the last record in that by the end of the campaign we were playing the size of shows that I never really necessarily thought we would. Our London show was playing to like two-thousand people, which in the grand scheme of things it’s f**k all, but for us it’s incredible. So, we thought, what can we do that’s going to be a little different to that; it’s a new record, a new start, so it felt appropriate to bring it back to the smaller club venues that we were used to playing. I like the sweat and the intimacy and the chaos and the messiness of small club shows, it’s kind of where we work best.

Is it nice being back on the road after being in the studio– do you go wild on tour or keep it tame?
G- Errr, I think if you were too straight laced on tour, you’d probably miss out on one of the coolest parts of being on the road. Being in a band is a big excuse to behave like a kid, more of a douchebag really. You have very little in the way of responsibilities and you’re on the road with your friends. So, yeah, we like to enjoy ourselves and have new experiences and stuff. You can never guarantee that you’re going to make any money in music, we get by, but if you can make sure that you’re having a good time and collecting memories then that’s good; so yeah, we have fun.

In terms of setlist for this tour will you play a mix of songs from the first record and the new one?
G- Yeah. We’re playing one or two tracks off the first release we did, an EP called “Mirrors”, some first record tracks that we haven’t played in a while and then a handful of songs off the new record. We want to play the whole fu****g thing, but it’s not out yet, so there would be people like “well I don’t have any idea what this song is!” But, yeah, we will play a handful of our favourite songs off it, so it’s a nice mix of old and new. There’s not much of a stage show or lighting because they’re small shows, but old and new and hopefully lots of energy and sweat and atmosphere.

Young Guns
The new album “Bones” is released on Monday- how are you feeling about the release- excited, nervous?
G- Err, I think I’m at the stage now where I just fu*****g want it out! We recorded it in July and August in Thailand, but it feels like another lifetime ago and so now I just want it out in people’s hands, I want people’s responses. You feel like you’re on death row in a way, you’re waiting to be sentenced. The reviews have been great so far, but I am a little apprehensive as I think you always are when you’ve spent so long trying to do something creative like that.

Fans have heard the first couple of singles from the new album “Learn My Lesson” and “Bones” and the reaction seems to have been great – what can we expect from the rest of the album?
G- The record has got a fair amount of diversity on there. I think there’s some ideas that we touch upon kind of sonically that maybe people are going to be a little surprised by. The last song on the album for example is kind of an acoustic proggy number, within the confines of still being one of our songs obviously; we haven’t turned in to the Mars Volta or whatever. I think within our field we’ve actually tried to push the envelope a bit and maybe not reinvent ourselves, but certainly keep it fresh and exciting. I’m really happy, I feel like there’s a real dynamic and ebb and flow on the album that maybe was missing from the first record a little bit.  

You recorded the album in Thailand- did you find it easier working out there or did you get distracted by the nice weather?
G- No, it definitely didn’t distract us. Well, we lived there; we just kind of walked around thinking “what the f**k are they doing letting reprobates like us in this place.” But no, it wasn’t distracting because there was very much a feeling that we were there to do a job and it’s nice waking up and hearing your mates splashing around in the pool every morning and it being sunny and stuff. But, we went there to go and do something, and it’s so important to us anyway that we didn’t really want to f**k around too much. We’re all control freaks so we were in there twenty-four-seven trying to make things better anyway. It wasn’t a distraction; it was, however, really cool, I fell in love with it.

Catch YG in record stores on tour

You’ve spoken in the past about how much of an influence you guys have about everything from your merch to your videos to who supports you on tour – is that still the same now, and do you think it’s important for bands to maintain that control?
G- I do yeah, and particularly in our case it is anyway and yeah we still have it, things are exactly the same really. I mean, the busier you get the harder it becomes really because you have to spin all these different plates and you reach a stage where are you compromising the quality of what you’re trying to do, by trying to do too much s**t. But, we’re lucky because we’re surrounded by a relatively small team of people that are just as passionate about our band as we are. Everyone allows us to be, not diva-ish, but to stick our oar in and I think that’s important because you feel more of a sense of ownership over the band and, if you put in extra graft, when you achieve something it’s just that little bit sweeter.

You guys are from High Wycombe? There are some good bands coming out of there it would seem- was there always a good music scene there growing there?
G- Well, I actually grew up in North London, but through chance and coincidence I met John Taylor, who’s one of the YG guitarists and I went out to Buckinghamshire to see his band at the time play a show, and I was like “Buckinghamshire, where the f**k’s that?” I went to see their band play and it was just a battle of the bands in High Wycombe and suddenly I was immersed in this thing that I’d never seen before, this local music scene. I think there has always been a really strong scene in High Wycombe and in Buckinghamshire in general. I don’t know why that is, but yeah there’s always been a strong atmosphere. There are a handful of bands from Bucks that have gone on to sign really good record deals – Venice, Futures. There’s a lot of creativity in the area and funnily enough there aren’t that many places to actually play in High Wycombe which is a shame; but yeah, it’s a great place that’s treated me well over the past couple of years, although I’m a London boy so I feel like I’m out in the sticks.

What do you guys have planned for the rest of the year? A bigger headline tour…?
G- Yeah, that’ll be coming at some point. We finish this tour in like two weeks and then go straight out to Europe and then we come back and we do the UK and Europe run with Enter Shikari which is going to be rad. Next we go back out to Europe for our own shows with Lower Than Atlantis. Then it’s like April time and then it’s Festival season really, so we’re doing a bunch of European festivals and trying to get over to Australia and Japan. Hopefully get to the States too at some point, but that’s the plan.  
Thanks Gustav.

And here’s what happened when Young Guns took to the stage…

Gustav Wood climbing a speaker at The Well

Lead singer of Young Guns, Gustav admits how he likes a varied bill and tonight is no different. The prelude to Young Guns comes in the form of Polar, the heaviest band of the evening, who bring the crowd to life with their fervent blend of hardcore and punk. The Guildford quintet are definitely ones to watch. The second support act, Tonight Alive, mix things up a little with their lighter, but no less impressive catchy pop-punk, lead by singer Jenna McDougall.

Lead singer Gustav Wood
The crowd bulges at the seams here in the tiny Leeds venue as Young Guns take to the modest sized stage. Newest single and title track from the second album, “Bones” opens the proceedings and things don’t stop from here on in. Young Guns live up to everything that Gustav promised when we caught up with him pre-gig. It is messy, intimate and sweaty- everything a gig like this should be! Powering through “In the Night”, from their debut EP, Young Guns mix up their set a little, bringing back fan favourite “Meter and Verse” and throwing in some newer material in anticipation of the new album hitting record stores tomorrow.

“Have a bit of this then- I wanna feel the room shake…” demands Gustav and the crowd don’t need telling twice, instigating a circle pit that nearly encases the capacity of the room. If it isn’t the fans getting into the crowd surfing spirit then it’s Gustav or bassist Simon. Young Guns demand high energy from their audience, but aren’t afraid to give it back. Their live show is none stop, coming to a close with debut single from the new album “Learn My Lesson” and “Winter Kiss” from their first. The new songs are laced with an exciting new taste, but nevertheless do not detract away from Young Guns vibe or indeed the songs from the first record. They just add testament to the fact that Young Guns can successfully mix things up a little, and aren’t afraid to take the risk and try a new thing or two.

Be sure to catch Young Guns on tour in the coming couple of weeks. There’s a reason why so many dates have sold out, so if you can, grab a ticket!

Read our interview with tour support band POLAR HERE

The new album "Bones" is out tomorrow - Monday 6th February 

Live show photo credit: Danny Peart Graphics.