"We couldn't write Bones part 2" - hmv.com talks to Young Guns
It's been over three years since Young Guns released their second album Bones, in between there's been a whole lot of touring, one aborted recording session, leaving a label, getting a brand new one, changing management structure and a big change in musical direction, in with the synths, in a big way. We spoke to frontman Gustav Wood about the band's brave new world on new album Ones and Zeros...
When did you start work on what would become Ones and Zeros?
"We wrote and demoed the first song that would actually end up on the album in the middle of 2013! We've written the album in parts whenever we had time between touring over the past 24 months or so."
Is it to fair say it’s taken a lot longer to get the album out than you’d have liked?
"Yes. We had originally wanted to have our third record done and released by the beginning of last year! American touring cycles and an aborted recording session last year pushed us back repeatedly. It was a trying time."
You released ‘I Want Out’ back in August 2014, that’s a long gap to the album, were you going back and tinkering with things? Or just waiting for the right time?
"No it wasn't really about going back and tinkering, or even waiting for the right time. That was the first song we recorded for the album specifically so we could release it first, the idea being that we would release more singles after in the run up the album's original release time. The album was then delayed by a few months longer than we'd wanted (once again) by problems mixing the record and some legal issues."
How did you want Ones And Zeros to move on from Bones?
"We have a very simple aim when writing and that is just to make sure that what we are excited by the songs and aren't repeating ourselves. This time that meant experimenting more with new sounds and instruments more so than we've done in the past. We don't set goals as such, we just want to work hard and reach out to as many people as possible."
There’s a lot more electronic influences on this album, where did that come from?
"It was just us wanting to remain excited and engaged by what we were doing. We couldn't write Bones part 2. We wrote that album at the end of 2011. I always tend to write on the piano or on synths, and the others do too. We just didn't feel the need to remove that element as much as we have done in the past."
You worked with Dan The Automator, but ended up doing the album with Steve Osborne, what decided that change?
"Working with Dan was an experiment, and ultimately one that I'm glad we tried but it didn't bear fruit like we'd hoped. It was incredibly educational though. We had written songs that were, for us, progressive and a logical extension of that was to try and work with someone that would challenge us.
We just couldn't align our separate ideas of what we thought the album should be, and what he thought it should be. Steve was one of the people we had spoken to and his enthusiasm for the songs and ideas were appealing to us - he got what we were doing and what we wanted to try and achieve."
What kind of album is this lyrically?
"Well it's not like it's a concept album or anything. I suppose it's fair to say that it's an album that reflects where myself and the band was at the point in time we made it. A time of infinite promise and excitement but also apprehension and introspection, due to the set backs we encountered along the way. As a result, consciously or otherwise, a running theme is the desire to exist in and appreciate the moment and not spend time dwelling on the past or the future, and how we as humans communicate (or not) with each other. It's a positive album."
What inspired the title?
"I wanted the title to be about those ideas in one way or another, and 'Ones and Zeros' just felt like a slightly less obvious or left field way of talking about how we communicate with each other. I like that it's the most fundamental or basic idea it could possibly be."
Tell us about the cover, it’s very cool…
"I'm not sure anymore how we stumbled upon it. Jone Kvie is a Norwegian sculptor and it was a work of his that we really liked. It felt really basic and powerful and the juxtaposition of this symbol of us at our most advanced, this spaceman being in a featureless grey brick room, felt really evocative. I liked that it worked with the title, both in the sense of the opposite-ness of it (as with 1 and 0) and also how it felt as a comment on how for all of our advances and inter-connectedness, how possible it is to feel alone and vulnerable."
This is your first album for Universal, how are you finding life on a major label?
"So far it's been great, we have a supportive group of people around us who share our enthusiasm and help us in any way they can."
What are your plans to tour this album? Is there anywhere you’d really love to go?
"I love the process of travelling and touring and we want to get out as far and wide as we can. I would love for us to get out into Europe again as it's been two years!"
Young Guns' new album Ones And Zeros is out now. The band will sign copies in three hmv stores next week, click here for more details.