London-via-Ireland three-piece whenyoung have been making statement after statement with their firebrand pop/rock, since they roared onto the scene with their epic debut, ‘Actor.’ Tunes this fresh and meaningful don’t just happen overnight, yet for whenyoung it would seem the opposite. Every original composition they produce acknowledges the urgency for personal truth and expression–a vital revolt in a world that is often too reticent to speak up.
Joining the band during a spate of back-to-back touring, we catch them whilst they take in some of their biggest shows to date with Declan McKenna and the Vaccines. Speaking on topics surrounding their now infamous stage uniforms, the massive year they’ve had so far and that’s still ahead of them, plus they reveal some never-before-heard facts.
Firstly, could you introduce yourselves with an interesting fact about each band member?
Hi, we’re Aoife (vocals and bass) Niall (guitar) Andrew (drums).
Niall has a habit of eating in the shower, crisps and sweets being particular favourites.
Andrew wants to be lead singer in our band.
Aoife’s first band was called The Funky’s (aged approximately 10).
I want to take you back to the last time we saw you play, it was last November in Manchester for Neighbourhood Festival – whenyoung’s debut show in the city. How was that for you?
We loved it, it was midway through our tour with Superfood. The day was so good, there was such an energy around town with everyone venue-hopping. HMLTD played just after us and they always put on an amazing live show.
We can’t forget that you played in Sound Control that day, a venue that has since been demolished due to building developers buying up the land. What’s your opinion on the situation facing grassroots and independent venues right now?
Oh god no, we had no idea. That’s such a tragedy. It’s incredibly hard to keep independent venues going. There’s nothing worse than seeing performance spaces and studios being ripped down for overpriced, non-descript, residential developments. Unfortunately with the current government none of that will stop soon. But there will always be new spaces to create and find for art to thrive. Art will always survive.
You have recently been sharing bills with some of the greatest bands in alternative rock today, including Dream Wife and Public Access T.V. What has the experience been like so far – and have the shows inspired the band in any way?
We’ve had some fantastic support slots this year also with Husky Loops and Declan Mckenna. They’ve been incredibly inspiring and eye opening for us. We get to see how other bands do it, feed off their fans and improve our live show.
Have you found yourself writing whilst on the road?
Not too much, some bits here and there but it’s tricky when you’re between venue, van and travelodge! We have a lot of melodies that we record on our phones while on the go and then come back to and write fully when we’re in the studio between shows.
You’ve also started to dig into other areas of the business like hosting a radio show. What spurred your decision to launch the show and how are you finding it?
Boogaloo Radio was set up last year and Gerry who runs the pub also manages Shane MacGowan. We met him in January when we were playing Shane’s birthday concert and he invited us to do a radio show. So we’ve started doing a monthly one. It’s been great, we try to change up the theme every show and get our friends in as guests to talk about their music/poetry/writing. Slowly we’re getting our radio wings….
Lyrically your songs have a tendency to tap into deep topics and engage in a wider dialogue. Do you enjoy that aspect of song writing, that it is in effect an outlet for you to express things that maybe you wouldn’t get the chance to in day-to-day life?
The lyrics are on outlet for our thoughts and feelings. Sometimes they’re written about what’s on the news and sometimes it’s more personal. I try to be honest with emotion in the hope that it will be relatable. I’m so grateful to songwriters who lay themselves bare in their lyrics and allow you to connect. They’re responsible for changing your mood, outlook and giving you a feeling of human kinship.
We must talk about your stage uniforms. Where did the idea for the boiler suits first start?
We love how primary colours have such a strong impact in the films of Jean Luc-Godard and paintings by Mondrian. We borrowed this idea for stage wear. We happened to find a blue boiler suit in a second hand shop and bought it. We liked the look so we found some more and started painting them. People seemed to like them so we started making them for merch.
Speaking of fashion and clothing, we have to talk about the music video for ‘Pretty Pure’ – first of all, congrats on producing such a filmic piece of art, it’s one of the best videos I’ve seen lately. I expect the clothing was all pretty much vintage or at least custom?
Thank you. Yeah we filmed that in Margate, so we got some help from a couple of the vintage shops down there who were cool enough to let Aoife wear a wedding dress in the sea. Also a friend of ours Edie Ashley lent us some badass leathers! Actually we had so much help for that, even the car was lent to us from a friend of a friend.
Whilst guitar heavy, your music carries a persistent pop presence, where do you think this love for pop hooks stems from?
We have always had a love of punk music but also unashamedly a love for pop music. Nothing wrong with a pop banger! Some of the best punk bands had huge pop hooks. Blondie, The Clash, The Ramones. So yes that’s exactly what we try to do.
You come across as a band that understands and appreciates the importance of putting the work in to build a successful career. Was this always the dream, to make music?
Yeah it was. But there was definitely a point when the dream seemed tangible and we really started knuckling down and taking things seriously. We want to get as far as we can with this.
You have a very busy few months coming up; I think whenyoung are pretty much playing every festival out there this summer – congrats on that. Are you prepared for the busy schedule and all those van rides?
We’re prepared and excited out of our minds for the next few months! It’s going to be so much fun and so many firsts for us! Already getting the festival whenyoung wardrobe ready!!!
What are your plans going forward in 2018 – apart from dominating the gig circuit?
We have some more releases planned which we will announce soon and some more shows to be announced. Hopefully you’ll be seeing a lot of us!
whenyoung’s latest release ‘Pretty Pure’/ ‘The Collector’ is out now on Yala Records – and is available to purchase on iTunes here.
The band will be touring with PEACE for the following dates throughout May:
8th – St. Luke’s, Glasgow
9th – Leadmill, Sheffield
11th – Fibbers, York
12th – The Venue, Derby
13th – Welly, Hull
15th – The Waterfront, Norwich
16th – Kentish Forum, London
19th – Engine Rooms, Southampton
23rd – Dryden Social, Leicester
24th – O2, Birmingham