Young Rival

Young Rival... Sprog rock

Interview: Young Rival

Published on May 18th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams

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Unless something truly spectacular comes around to usurp it, Hamilton, Ontario trio Young Rival have surely got Rocksucker’s Video of the Year award sewn up with that which accompanies “Two Reasons”, the latest single to be taken from their second album Stay Young.

A fuzzed-up, insanely catchy early ’60s blast of a song, “Two Reasons” packs even more punch when in tandem with the sight of Michigan artist James Kuhn lip-synching the lyrics in a variety of astounding face paint get-ups of his own execution. It’s gleefully unsettling stuff and it’s brought a smile to the face of everyone we’ve shown it to.

Rocksucker sat down with singer-guitarist Aron D’Alesio, bassist John Smith and drummer Noah Fralick before their show at the Garage to find out more about their particular operation, starting with the song that’s been so firmly lodged in our cerebral cortex of late that it appears destined to play a prominent role in soundtracking our summer…

How did the “Two Reasons” video come about?

John: It was all done through a long series of emails back and forth. I found a picture of him online with some crazy makeup on, pitched the idea for the video to him and he was into the idea of collaborating. With each face he did, he lip-synched the whole song then mailed the DVD over. He’s from Detroit so it took a few months to get enough clips to use to edit, then we just chopped it all together.

Have you played in London much before?

Aron: We’ve played a few times: Hobby Horse, Scala, Old Blue Last…I think that might be it.

Noah: The last time we were here was when we were on tour with a band from Toronto called Born Ruffians who are good friends of ours. We were doing a whole UK and European tour with them. The shows at Scala were amazing.

“Two Reasons” could conceivably have been a cover of some lost early ’60s gem, the way its melodies and harmonies are arranged. Would you say this is indicative of your influences?

Aron: I would say so. We grew up listening to a lot of ’60s rock and roll: the British Invasion stuff, surf rock, that kind of stuff. We also pay attention to what’s going on around us now but, as a set of influences, that’s kind of where we come from.

Can you tell us about the track you just recorded in Brussels?

John: We recently released our second album Stay Young on a Belgium-based label called 62TV Records. The guy who runs it is putting out a benefit CD – I think the proceeds are going to some amazing charity, but I can’t remember – which is am all-covers compilation of Leiber and Stoller songs, so we covered a track called “Some Other Guy”.

Has Stay Young been officially released in the UK?

Noah: Not officially. We’ve just released the “Two Reasons” single online through iTunes but the album is only officially out in North America and certain European. We’d love for there to be a UK release but we’re waiting to see what makes most sense, and whether there’s a label that would be interested in coming on board to help facilitate that.

Do you have material lined up for a third album?

John: We’re always consistently writing so I’m sure we have twenty-odd ideas in the banks by now that just need refining. We haven’t got any solid plans yet as to whether we want to do a full-length or just an EP next, but we’re always working towards the next thing.

Are you guys playing any festivals this summer?

Aron: Festival season kind of starts now, I guess; we just played one in Brussels called Les Nuits Botanique. I think we’re doing a couple on this tour, too.

Noah: The Great Escape is the only British festival we’re doing, then we’re coming back to Europe in July to do Dour Festival in Belgium as well as festivals in Germany and Austria, so it’s more in Europe and not so much the UK.

Do you know if you have much of a following in Europe?

Aron: It’s hard to say. I think we’ll know in about two and a half weeks!

John: The last time we were in Europe was with Born Ruffians, which was great for us because they’ve got an awesome following. We got to play to lots of full rooms but that was on their accord not ours, so it’ll be interesting to see who comes out to these shows.

Aron: The record just came out, we’ll have to see how it all shakes out.

What can folk expect from a Young Rival live show?

Aron: A good time. Come out, have a few drinks and just party (laughs). You’re gonna get a rock and roll show.

Noah: We try to bring a party everywhere we go. That’s what we strive to do.

Why did you decide to change your name from The Ride Theory to Young Rival?

John: It was around the time that we all got into school and we all made the decision collectively that we wanted to keep the band name going. It felt like we were doing slightly different music than before so it was kind of a fresh page for us. The energy was changing so it was a good time to change the name.

What was the thinking behind Young Rival?

Noah: It was just an attitude that we had at the time when we changed the name. It felt like we had something to prove and we had a lot of energy to do it, so Young Rival fit our mindset, our approach.

John: It sounds really, really corny but it felt like we were rivalling the industry! We’re a very DIY band and we’ve always just done what it takes to get done what we want to do.

Is there a reason why everyone in Canada seems to be so creative?

Noah: I think it’s the long winters.

Aron: Yeah, the long winters have something to do with it.

Noah: You have to stay indoors and do something to keep yourself occupied. You guys must have the same thing with all the rain here.

Aron: It must have something to do with it. Also, at least in our hometown, there are a lot of places that artists can come in, and it’s not that expensive to live so you can have a jam space and facilitate the things you need to do to keep a band going. I would imagine being in a band in London or New York City…like, the prices you’d have to pay just to get together and jam or practice, it must cost a fortune. You’d have to get pretty crafty about things.

What music from 2013 have you been enjoying, or is there anything not out yet that you’re particularly looking forward to?

Noah: I’ve been listening to the new Born Ruffians album a lot. I think it’s really great.

John: I’ve been dipping into the new Kurt Vile, and I was listening to the new Deerhunter today. They’re both really good.

Finally, if you had to spend the rest of your lives with the back catalogues of just five artists, musical or otherwise, whose would you choose?

(Much umm’ing and ah’ing ensues, punctuated by nominations for The Beach Boys from Noah, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen from Aron and The Kinks and Mozart from John)

Young Rival, thank you.

“Two Reasons” is out now on Sonic Unyon Records.

You can buy “Two Reasons” on iTunes.

For more information, including a list of upcoming live dates around Europe, please visit the official Young Rival website.

Young Rival - Stay Young

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About the Author

Editor of Rocksucker and the website's founder, Jonny is passionate about the music he listens to, both good and bad, as well as interviewing his favourite musicians.