Interview: Young Guns
Published on April 2nd, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Having only just returned from gigging around Europe, Buckinghamshire rockers Young Guns are set to go back out on the continent to tour their recently released second album Bones, so Rocksucker caught up with the band’s drummer Ben Jolliffe to discuss recording the album in Thailand with former SikTh guitarist Dan Weller, getting glared at by Jon Bon Jovi, and how his football loyalties once saw him brutally exploited by one of their soon-to-be touring buddies…
Mike from Lostprophets recently told me that he got you to play a gig in an Everton shirt, even though you’re a Liverpool fan…
Yeah, that’s unfortunately true. Basically, Lostprophets were the first band to take us out for a few shows when nobody knew who we were, when we were just playing at pubs to about ten people. I think it was on the last night in Cardiff, and they were saying, “You can’t play this show unless you play in an Everton shirt.” We started joking about it, but he was like, “No, I’m being serious.” (Laughs) Obviously I knew it wasn’t a serious threat, but I said, “Oh, go on, then.”
To get my own back, I got the crowd to shout “Everton suck” – one half of the room shouting “Everton”, the other half shouting “suck” – and there were around two or three thousand people there, so I definitely got my own back! In terms of what I was wearing, that was definitely the least enjoyable gig I’ve played. (Click here to read Ben talking to Football Burp about his love of Liverpool FC.)
You’re going back out on tour with them in Europe soon, aren’t you?
Yeah, it’s great. Like I said, they were the first band to take us out, and they’ve looked after us probably more than any other band. We’ve become quite close to them since that so it should be fun to go out on tour with them again. I’m looking forward to it.
Will you have had enough time to recharge your batteries? I mean, you’ve just come off a fairly extensive tour of your own…
We don’t ever get a chance to recharge our batteries! We came off our tour a few days ago, we’ve got a week off, then a show at the weekend, and then we go back to Europe next week. It’s going to be non-stop; we’re going to shoot some videos, go back to Europe again, go to Australia and Japan, and then it’s all the festivals. It’s brilliant because this is how we’ve always wanted it to be, so we can’t complain. It’s nice to have a couple of days off after a tour, but now we’re all itching to get back out on the road!
How long were you guys out in Thailand recording the album?
About five weeks, and it was the best five weeks I think I’ve ever had! The place, the studio itself, the fact that we had chefs and maids…it was such a beautiful place, and in the middle of absolutely nowhere. We did our first album in a small studio in east London and it was really hard work. Recording an album is always stressful no matter where you are, but when you’re somewhere like that it makes it so much nicer; everyone’s in a good mood, everyone wakes up excited to go to the studio…it’s great.
What’s Dan Weller like to work with? Were you fans of SikTh before going into the studio with him?
Yeah, we were always big fans of SikTh growing up, so he’s always been a great inspiration to us. He’s such a great friend as well; we did an EP with him and we just got on so well, so now he’s produced everything we’ve done. He knows how to work our personalities, basically, and he’s on the same wavelength as us, knows what we want. We nearly killed him with the first album – we were doing thirty-four-hour days! – so it was nice to be able to do this one in Thailand with a bit more time.
Where did the idea to record it in Thailand come from? Was it just a hunch, or had it been recommended to you?
It was basically Dan Weller. There’s a guy called Chris Craker who used to own part of Sony and he basically managed to get us a great deal. When we said we were going to do the second album with Dan and we weren’t sure if we wanted to do it back in London, he said, “I’ve got a place,” and, long story short, we managed to do it in Thailand for pretty much the same price as doing it in east London.
Have you started thinking about the next album yet, or is it way too early to be asking about that?
We have, actually. Once we released this album, it’s such a stressful process that we didn’t want to think about the next one too soon, but now we’re really looking forward to starting doing a bit of writing on the road. Because we’re so busy this year, we’re going to have ourselves a situation where at the end of the year we’ll realise “oh god, we’ve got to suddenly write an album with no time”, so we’re going to try and set our minds to it straight away. But yeah, we’re really looking forward to it; especially with this last album, we definitely started to know what we were doing writing-wise a lot better, becoming better writers, so fingers crossed I think we can write a great third album. And if we do it back in Thailand then all the better!
Frivolous question time: when you supported Bon Jovi, did you get to meet the man himself?
No, we didn’t! I mean, we saw him walk past and he gave us little nods and “hello”s, but he didn’t seem to really care for even looking our way, which was a shame. But you sort of expect that from Bon Jovi; he’s a bit of a diva, isn’t he? Gus and I tried to sit in on their soundcheck, wondering why there was no-one watching, and it turned out to be because it was a closed soundcheck and no-one was allowed to watch them. We got chucked out after Jon Bon Jovi had looked our way as if to say “what are you doing here?”. The show itself was brilliant, but we didn’t get to chat to them, unfortunately.
What’s the most star-struck you’ve been?
Personally, seeing Travis Barker. I don’t really tend to get star-struck because we do so many festivals with bands we grew up with – it never really bothers me – but when we did Pukkelpop in Belgium two years ago, Travis Barker walked past me. Being a drummer and having grown up absolutely loving his drumming, I felt like a little kid! It’s probably only really be him, but I’d probably also be like that if I got to meet Taylor Hawkins or Dave Grohl. Fingers crossed I’ll bump into them at some festivals this year.
Are there any up-and-coming and/or obscure artists that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
There’s a band that we did a few shows with recently called Marmozets…
Ah yes, Mike mentioned them too.
Yeah, Mike’s been Tweeting about them and replied to one of mine about how great they were. I think they’re about 16 years old – one of them’s 15 – and they are unbelievable, a bit like The Dillinger Escape Plan. They’re quite ‘tech’, quite a heavy band, but they’re brilliant, and such nice guys. They’re all brothers and sisters, made up of two families, and it was a thrill to do some shows with them because I definitely think they’re going places. We watched them each night and thought, “For god’s sake, they’re just too good, and so young!”
Finally, if you had to spend the rest of your life in solitary confinement, but were allowed to take the entire works of five different musical artists with you to tide you over, whose would you choose?
Foo Fighters, Bon Iver, Blink 182, Thrice and Sigur Rós.
Ben Jolliffe, thank you.