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After a 20 year hiatus, Grand Theft Audio are back, fighting for kids’ right to ‘smash the sh*t’ out of their youth

GTA 2020
(Image credit: Scott Chalmers)

Grand Theft Audio are back!

Back in 2000, Grand Theft Audio coalesced as something of a BritRock supergroup, with former RealTV frontman Jay Butler joined by The Wildhearts drummer Ritch Battersby, producer Ralph Jezzard (The Wildhearts/Keith Flint) and Three Colours Red guitarist Chris McCormack. The quartet signed a big record deal, released an excellent debut album, Blame Everyone, had their songs featured on film soundtracks (American Pie 2, Dude, Where’s My Car?) and games (FIFA 2001, Gran Turismo 3), toured America, took lots of drugs... and then fell apart in the messiest way when their label imploded. And now, as we just said, they’re back.

Stripped back to a three-piece, with former guitarist (and Camden Rocks promoter) McCormack now playing alongside former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook in The Professionals, GTA have just released their first single in almost 20 years. Ruin Your Youth is a singalong punk-metal anthem which picks up where the band left off, and argues for the right to let today’s teenagers “smash the shit” out of their youth.

“I think being young is being hijacked by middle-aged, middle-class people and I think it’s probably harder to be young now than it’s ever been,” says Jay Butler about the song’s theme. “I certainly didn’t have a very rounded outlook on life when I was 17 or 18 and I think the right of passage to be a prick is being robbed from kids.”

“There’s a lot of pressure to be very serious, to be very considered and structured and I think that kids have lost something because of that and I think that’s sad. Kids live double lives now, outwardly and with social media, they’re very wary of what they put out about themselves to the world and they’re very critiqued for it. I think you should be able to enjoy your youth smash the shit out of it and fucking exploit it because the middle age train is coming for everyone.” 

The single’s cover art and accompanying video (directed by Scott Chalmers) pay homage to the classic 1979 movie Scum.

“You’d be hard pushed to find a film that represents the bleaker side of youth than that film does,” says Jay, “It was a pivotal film for me when I was a kid, I can still remember watching the video of Scum round someone’s house when we should have been at school and thanking all the Gods of the universe that I wasn’t in Borstal getting attacked in a greenhouse and it haunted me. It’s got a certain feel about it that is very much of that time, the grim bleakness of being a hopeless teenager.”

Grand Theft Audio are currently working upon a new album, which they describe as “a state of the union address for the psyche of 2020, a call to arms, a vote against banality, a love letter to the debauched nights you always regretted… but secretly still yearn for.”