One of the things that metal prides itself on is the fact that, once you’re in, the lure of heavy music is almost impossible to escape. One of Britain’s most exciting new bands, Yards, are proof of just how seductive a force music can become.
“I met our bass player Rainey from a bunch of DIY shows back when I was in my old band, Ghost Of A Thousand,” says guitarist Tom Lacey. “When Ghost… finished I got a random email from him saying, ‘I suppose you’re available to be in a band now?’ And to be honest I mulled over how to say no for a couple of weeks… but in the end, on a whim, I said, ‘Fuck it, go on then.’”
It was some leap of faith for Tom, considering his spell in the hugely under-appreciated Ghost Of A Thousand had left him confused and frustrated with the music industry.
“I couldn’t work out if it was music I was feeling disillusioned by or the kind of areas in the business that we ended up in,” Tom carefully considers. “I think what made me come back is that I hate the idea that when you get to a certain age you’re supposed to go, ‘Well I’ve had my creative stage, that’s it for art and me.’ And what I’ve realised is that I’m always going to need to create art and music.”
The result of this realisation is Yards’ debut album, Excitation Thresholds, a record of seething, unrestrained and, often, deranged anger, set to a backdrop of ugly, punishing sounds, taking you on a swift tour of hardcore, crusty punk and elements of avant-garde noise rock.
A thrilling, if painful, aural experience, so vicious is the album that you’d be shocked to learn that, initially, the members of Yards weren’t even sure if heavy music was going to be the way forward for their new project.
“When we first got together we didn’t even know what type of music we wanted to make,” says Tom. “We didn’t know if we were going to do something heavy or go down a sort of Pavement/Shellac route. Then we got together one day, had a few drinks down the pub and put on a load of Pg.99 and city of caterpillar records and said, ‘right, we need to do this!’ Getting pissed up and listening to crusty, black metal and hardcore records made me fall in love with it all again.”
The band were also keen to make their music as real-sounding as possible, with Tom hinting that the perfectly produced sheen of modern heavy music is something that helps create the divide between him and the scene.
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“It’s so easy now to make perfect-sounding records,” he tells us. “You can cut and paste everything and line it up to give it no flaws. That lack of spontaneity is one of my main bugbears in heavy music recently, particularly in vocalists. Meshuggah are great but the monotony of their vocals, using it like a rhythmical instrument, just doesn’t always connect with me. That was something we wanted to combat. The approach was to get into gig mode rather than studio mode, mainly because it was so cold in the studio that we just got drunk and went fully into it. But we wanted to give it that energy to make it more guttural and punishing. As long as it had heart; I guess that’s why we’re probably characterised more as a punk band than a metal band.”
Another inspiration for the anger you can hear was the band’s disgust in shape the world around us is taking.
“The liberal project is on its knees at the moment,” sighs Tom. “As someone that sits very firmly on the left that’s quite distressing to see. You see what’s happening here and in the States and it feels very much like the same kind of populist uprising. It’s very easy to be dismissive of that, but that’s what inspired the record, and the fact that it’s very easy to only see one point of view. That’s why people become so polarised in politics and culture, and I just think it’s so reductive. By sitting back and refusing to talk to people or see their side of an argument you just create an even bigger divide within society, and that’s something that the album at least tries to address.”
With all this on his mind, is Tom really glad to be jumping back into the murky waters of the music industry?
“Yeah, because we’re all older now,” he laughs. “We won’t be going to open the bill in front of two people in a pub on a Tuesday night – we do what we want to do. In Ghost… it was ‘You have to make a piece of music and it needs to be X, Y and Z.’ Now we’re like, ‘No, fuck that.’ It’s very freeing from a creative point of view.”
Excitation Thresholds is out now via Truthseeker and can be ordered here.