I’m never late, but I’m running late. I was supposed to be at The Lexington in Islington 15 minutes ago, but my day job and the dodgy transportation system have caused me significant delays. I’m supposed to be interviewing Youth Club – right now – on the final night of their UK tour, but my phone’s on the blink and I can’t get through to anyone. I paint such a professional self-portrait.
I meet up with my sister outside the pub, and we decide to grab a quick pint downstairs before finding out where I’ll be conducting the interview. As we wait patiently at the bar, I feel a warm substance splatter across the backs of my legs, and stick to the back of my new, bright red coat. I turn around to investigate; a customer has squeezed a ketchup bottle so hard over her delicious looking dinner, that it’s exploded across her face and consequently; all over my sister & I. We laugh, because – what else can we do? We’re late, and now we smell like a half-empty bottle of Heinz’s finest.
We grab our pints, and stand awkwardly near the stairs as I try to make my phone work again. I do the classic ‘switch it on & off’ hack multiple times, and it does the trick. Within a few minutes, a call comes through and when I answer it’s Joe, Youth Club’s guitarist. “We’re out in the smoking area, come and say hi!” – “Okay!” I reply, “Are you allowed drinks outside?” – Oh, well done Kate, 10/10 for rock ‘n’ roll attitude there. God. Why don’t you just go home? You AMATEUR.
We make our way outside, and I am greeted by 3/4’s of Youth Club; Danny, Joe & Gerarrd. They’re all smiles, but they’re distracted by a figure to my left. I avert my gaze and discover Peter Crouch is next to me, mid-conversation with Youth Club’s friends. I should be more enthusiastic about his presence, but all I can think is “I really hope I don’t smell like ketchup in front of Youth Club and Peter Crouch”.
We all venture back in to the pub to find drummer, Rees, and try to settle down at a table to start the interview. It’s far too noisy though, so we resolve to use the backstage room upstairs. Alt-rock band JUDAS are playing their set as we sit down on the L-shaped seat backstage, huddled around my poor excuse of a phone (I silently pray it will record the interview effectively, if not; I’m screwed). Gerarrd, Joe, Rees & Danny all lean in to hear what I have to say, and kindly speak up in order to increase the chances of their words actually being recorded on my sub-standard piece of technology:
Hello Youth Club! Tonight is the final show of your UK tour – how are you feeling, and how are you planning to celebrate?
Danny: We’ll probably have an early night….(laughs)
Joe: We’re feeling pumped – it’s been a really good tour! We had our local show at Chinnerys last week, and we’re really excited about tonight because it’s a London show, which means there’s a mix of people who have come from everywhere, so it’s good!
Gerarrd: Yeah, we’re feeling really good about the tour, we had loads of people turn up – people actually came – which is great!
Rees: We’ve got a bottle of champagne back in fridge at our studio which has been sitting there for a while, so we’ll probably crack it open when we get back, and collapse…
Danny: Also, it’s the first gig on the whole tour where Rees hasn’t had to drive! (the band cheer)
Your tour consisted of 17 dates at venues between Scotland and Southampton. Did you have many opportunities to talk to your fans after the shows? What did they want to say to you?
Gerarrad: We had loads actually! We always had a chance to mingle afterwards.
Joe: We had some fans who wanted to come to our Leicester show because they couldn’t come to our Birmingham gig, so we gave them free tickets and they travelled up to see us the next day, which was really cool! We had such a good response from everyone. Before and after the gigs, we always went to speak to people, because it was good to know where they’d come from and what they liked about our music. At the end of the day; we’re playing fairly small venues, so it’s not like you can go and hide back stage anyway!
Rees: I mean, this might not be a good way to look at it, but you know – we are a product – and it’s good to hear from the consumer what they like and what they don’t like. It’s a really good eye-opener.
You recently played to a sold out crowd at Chinnerys in Southend on the 11th March, and hosted an after party at local venue The Marketplace. Can you describe how it feels to play to a home crowd?
The band shout out different responses before laughing at their “mixed opinions” between it being “more fun” and “more pressure”.
Danny: Well, for me, I perform better when I’ve got adrenaline. When it’s a sold out hometown show, your adrenaline is so much higher that you perform differently. When we looked around the (Chinnerys) stage the other night whilst we were playing, we could just see in each other’s eyes this extra kind of flare, and without realising it, we performed a lot better. I think you feed off the crowd, if the crowd have loads of energy; you do too.
Joe: It was also really nerve-wracking playing Chinnerys because my Mum was there, I couldn’t see her in the crowd; but I knew she was there, dancing badly…
Gigslutz featured your video for ‘She’s a Dancer’ on the March Video vote, and you uploaded a video tour diary as you were travelling from venue to venue. Who came up with the narratives for your videos, and who’s usually behind the lens?
Danny: And we nearly won the vote! You said we were only 0.2% away from winning?!
We laugh about how I frantically messaged them and told them to get people to vote quickly before I announced the winner last month, like I said; I paint a professional self-portrait.
Danny: Joe’s got a go-pro that we take with us…
Gerarrd: Yeah, we literally just passed it around and we all chipped in, then Joe would edit the footage himself back at the hotel.
Danny: I think because it was our first proper tour, there wasn’t going to be room in the van to have a cameraman or anything, so we knew we’d have to do it ourselves. We wanted to have something from every single show, so it was the quickest and easiest way of doing it really. No plan – just stick the camera on anything – gaffa-tape it to the wall, on a beer glass…
Joe: When you eventually come back from being on tour and people ask “what was it like?” – sometimes you forget things, so if you document it along the way it’s better, and for the kids who came to see us we did this thing called ‘beer cam’ where we’d film them as they took a swig of the beer..
Danny: They weren’t actually ‘kids’ by the way, they were definitely 18 and old enough to drink (laughs)
Joe: (laughs) Yeah that’s true, but they got to watch the video back and it helps them remember the gig as well!
What were you been listening to whilst travelling between towns on tour?
Rees: As a band, we have an extensive playlist!
Voices and opinions overlap on my recording, but the band have been listening to the following: Tame Impala, funk, hip hop, Jamiroquai, Jamie Woon, Jack Garratt, Lianne La Havas, and Phoenix!
You’re playing at Village Green Festival in Southend in July (Billy Bragg and Stereo MCs are headlining). Have you been to Village Green before? If so, what’s your favourite element of the festival?
Gerarrd: The first time we played at Village Green was definitely one of my favourite gigs.
Rees: The thing we love most about it is that it’s very much a community project, so there are lot of families who would definitely go to Village Green, but not necessarily one of our own shows. We had a year off last year, but the year before that we were on stage playing an early slot and we were so surprised by how many actually people came out to watch us.
Joe: I remember someone saying there was around 3,700 people in the area that we played, which was absolutely mental.
Danny: …and some of our friends who are also in bands play there as well! We love the festival season, and Village Green in particular is like a little mini home-coming, it’s nice.
Joe: …and everyone’s Mums are there, and that’s awesome.
Danny: You seem to be loving the Mums, Joe…
Joe: Yeah, Mums are great!
You’re playing the Camden Rocks Festival in June, too. You played a show at Barfly last year, are you looking forward to returning to Camden?
Rees: Yeah definitely. We played at the Camden Lock festival a few years ago when we’d just written our song ‘People’, and we were trialling it to see if people liked it live. No-one had heard it before; but it instantly just clicked with the crowd and the song sort of blossomed from there really, so Camden gigs are definitely something special for us.
You’re the first unsigned Essex band to officially chart next to Adele, and she’s announced she’ll be headlining Glastonbury on Saturday this year. What are your thoughts on this year’s lineup? (Muse, Coldplay, PJ Harvey, Jeff Lynne’s ELO)
Joe: I thought you were going to say do you think she’s going to ask us to come and play!
Rees: Glastonbury’s line-up is massive, they’re all stadium-sized acts that would be great to see.
Danny: We’re just really hoping that Phoenix get added to the line-up, because… we really like Phoenix! Glastonbury is such a big festival, there are so many stages…
Rees: We’re also waiting for the call to play there…
(The band laugh)
Gerarrd: I will play in the toilet!
Finally, what are Youth Club’s plans for the rest of the year?
Gerarrd: You’re joking, we’re not allowed one! (laughs)
Danny: There’s a few more tours in the pipeline, and we’ve just started announcing our festival appearances this year…
Gerarrd: …and we’re gonna have another single coming out this summer.
Rees: We’ve just started getting back in the studio and working on stuff that we haven’t touched for a while, so we’re gonna try and put together some more songs. We’ve never actually released a single right at the start of summer before, so hopefully we can achieve that this year, and then play more gigs and festivals!
Joe: …and possibly do another tour, probably just in time for when it starts turning cold again.
Massive thanks to Youth Club, who were easy going, welcoming, and answered my questions with enthusiasm and most importantly; good humour. Plus, they were kind enough not to mention the fact I smelt of ketchup. Winner winner, [ketchup-less] chicken dinner. You can catch Youth Club live at The Great Escape Festival, Brighton, in May!