If you caught Youth Man supporting letlive. on their recent stint in the UK, you’ll know just how much the belligerent Birmingham band are a force to be reckoned with live. Which is precisely the reason the self-styled “sex punk” trio – Kaila Whyte, Miles Cocker and Marcus Perks – recorded the four songs of their new EP, Wax, live in the studio late one night.
“Last year,” explains Whyte, “we were touring so much that anything we did right was kind of on-the-go late at night. When we could grab a minute we were writing songs. When we road tested them,we really dug how they fell together and decided to record them in that way. So we got together one night, hit record, recorded it live in like six hours. It’s not got a lot of studio tricks on it to make us sound any better than we actually are - I think we’ve made ourselves a bit vulnerable because it’s kind of messy.”
While Whyte admits there are mistakes on the EP, the band left them in because “they sounded cool.” It’s also indicative of what the record and the band stand for – a no-nonsense, powerful tour de force of sneering, snarling attitude set to a gloriously frenzied blast of angular, idiosyncratic punk rock. Intense and violent and fired by a socio-political conscience, it could well serve as soundtrack to a nation (and world) in turmoil. If you took it that way, you wouldn’t be wrong, but you wouldn’t necessarily be right, either.
“What we try to do when we’re writing songs,” explains Whyte, “is take a little snapshot of what we’re all thinking about. But I also think we’ve lost the meaning of a lot of the songs, because there’s so much metaphor there, but the medium is the message – whatever you want to take from it. It’s almost nonsense because we’ve changed it so much and just make it weirder and weirder as we get more and more bored with it. It’s almost as if it means something different every time we play it or listen to it. You pick out a lyric that sticks out in your mind and make that relate to the rest of the lyrics and all of a sudden you’ve got a song about, I don’t know, Colonel Gaddafi. But there are obviously a lot of issues where young people feel underrepresented and like we’ve been given a shitty deal, and because that affects us just because of who we are, that does come across in our music.”
Now that more and more eyes are focussed on the band, Whyte is acutely aware of the pressures that come when making music not just for fun but with an audience and a career in mind. And while it’s definitely a concern, Youth Man wouldn’t be the band they are of they actually paid it any mind. Already, in this short space of time, things have changed significantly, but Youth Man are still the same band at heart.
“When we first started jamming together,” says Whyte, “we were 18 and we had a different bassist and we were just messing about. We studied music at college so we were really excited to be young musicians. It was just a bit of a laugh. Then people started to dig it and we realised we wanted to take it seriously. It’s definitely less of a piss around now, but that’s a good thing, because I’d love to do this for a living. So we have to think about this in a bit of a business way now, I guess, because when we’re taking out time to tour we still have to pay our rent and stuff. And that, by a twist of fate, almost makes us less creative. It’s a vicious cycle, but a good one.”
Youth Man’s EP Wax is out now through Venn Records. For more information, visit their Facebook page.