London-based quintet Young Guns have been working on their new album ‘Ones And Zeros’ for what seems like an eternity. Signing to Virgin EMI in February of last year, the band have studiously avoided rushing out a release to capitalise on their unexpected 2013 US Number One hit, ‘Bones’.
More on that later. But before the album hits the shops – virtual and otherwise – a handful of fans and members of the music press were invited to experience the 11-track release in a unique setting.
Details of the album launch were scant; we were simply told we’d be boarding the Young Guns’ party bus to a destination in the centre of London. A bog standard red London double decker pulled up – its sides covered in the album artwork instead of a Hollywood movie – and as the doors swung open, we were greeted by the sound of their new album booming from inside. Next up, obviously, was a bar with a man handing out Sex On The Bus cocktails.
Being a Birmingham native, when I explore the upper decks of a bus, I expect to see a group of intimidating youths occupying the seats at the back, taking up as much room as possible while playing tinny, inaudible violent rap through a Sony Ericsson Xperia. Thankfully, there was something completely different waiting for those of us who’d clambered the stairs. Young Guns hit us with a sucker punch of surprises: constructed at the back of the bus was a full backline and drumkit.
Frontman Gustav Wood picks up his mic and opens the proceedings by explaining why the band have been away for a while and kicked off their three-song set with the irresistible anthem I Want Out, complete with the best volley of ‘whoa-oas’ recorded in recent memory. Next was Rising Up, which neatly showcases Wood’s vocal range, from gravelly tones to high pitch harmonies while his bandmates construct soaring verses. The band conclude the set with their current single, Speaking In Tongues. These three songs alone show that their time in the studio has been well-spent; they’ve honed their new collection of songs with intention that they never leave your head.
When the set started, I was sceptical. I’ve tried getting off a moving bus just to get off at my stop. On many occasion, I’ve almost stacked it into the lap of a poor, unsuspecting bystander. So imagine hammering out a series of new songs while negotiating London’s notorious evening traffic; so credit where credit’s due, the band owned the occasion while Wood scaled the monitors and seats as if the floor was lava. It could have been but the evening was too surreal so we’d notice. This evening will live long in the memory and has already made subsequent bus journeys a much duller experience.
Ones And Zeros will be released on June 8.