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Interview: Young Guns

Over the past twelve months, London rockers Young Guns have been making a name for themselves with countless tours and festival appearances and with the release of their debut full-length, 'All Our Kings Are Dead' today, lead vocalist Gustav Wood spoke to Alter The Press about the new album, their forthcoming UK tour, playing this year's Leeds and Reading Festival, supporting Bon Jovi at the London O2 Arena and more.

Alter The Press: How does it feel to complete your first full full-length LP?
Young Guns: It's a brilliant feeling, relief mixed with disbelief really. I always wanted to have an album but never actually thought I would have one. From a band perspective we're all just really proud and eager to get it out and get on with promoting it, and hopefully getting to have some new experiences.

ATP: There is a lot of lyrical anguish on your debut did the writing of the album stem from a dark place, and was recording the album therapeutic for Gustav?
YG: I didn't write it with any specific goal or direction in mind, it just seemed to be what came out. This band is the best thing that's ever happened to me, it's completely changed my life and my perspective on life, so in that respect I'm in a more positive place than I've ever been. Lyrically though, I wanted to be honest and write and sing about the things that have made me the person I am today, be it positive or negative. I wanted to make sure that I felt like I was being true to myself and not to try and write about anything that I didn't feel strongly about. My logic was that if I did that, no matter what criticism anyone levelled at us, they couldn't say we and myself especially were trying to be anyone or anything other than we are. It was cathartic in a lot of ways, and because of what i chose to write about, the album writing process forced me to really address a lot of things and figure out on where I stand on things like my father, or the way I've lived my life up to this point.

ATP: It’s only been a year since you’re debut EP, and you’re playing the main stage at Reading and Leeds Festival this year. How does that feel?
YG: In a word? Unreal. I can't believe it. We were secretly praying and hoping that it could be our year to play Reading, but weren't holding our breath. I remember getting the offer an just not knowing how to respond or what to do with myself. It's such an honour to be asked to play that stage. Our minds are truly blown. We've had such a good year and been so lucky, but we've worked so hard and to be given opportunities like this is just so fucking rewarding. I'm in the middle of our little bubble and we're so busy that you have to sometimes force yourself to stop and take stock of what we're doing and have done, and just really let it sink in. It's a dream.

ATP: Has your success really been as quick as the media would have you believe?
YG: Well that depends on your perspective. We've been playing music together for 5 or 6 years in one way or another, but this incarnation has been together since Feburary 2008. That's when we started as we are today. We released our EP last July, but had recorded it in the August/September before. We planned and worked as hard as we could to get people to take notice, and luckily, at least so far, it's worked. Sometimes it feels over night, sometimes it feels like it's taken forever to get where we are. We feel like we've only just begun though, that's for sure.

ATP: On the subject of festivals, you’ve played some of the most prestigious festivals this year (Slam Dunk, Hevy Festival and Download). Does one stick out as a personal favourite?
YG: Download was awesome, as was Slam Dunk. To see so many people there for us at both was a huge deal for me, part of me always still feels like noone gives a shit about us so things like that are amazing to me. We've not played Hevy yet but it looks awesome. We played our first European festival a while ago too (Groezrock) which was amazing, so maybe that one so far.

ATP: And opening for Bon Jovi must have been pretty surreal?
YG: Definitely. Like having an out of body experience. Soundchecking at the o2 (arena) was an image I'll never forget. Seeing the time sheet in our dressing room 'Young Guns 8-8.30 Bon Jovi 9-11' or whatever, was ridiculous. I'll never fully process the fact that it was real.

ATP: How is the November/December tour shaping up? Do you have a favourite city in particular, seeing as you have already toured country relentlessly?
YG: Tickets went on sale this morning so now we begin the dreaded wait. I worry if anyone will turn up, if anyone likes us. I can't ever imagine feeling any different. I still struggle to get the mentality out of my head that we're still just blaggers playing the toilet venues to nobody, but this tour is a real moment for me. The venues are amazing and I really see it as a chance to make a statement, and I want to grab that idea with both hands. Generally, I love Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, my home town of London.. really though, everywhere has been incredible to us.

ATP: You’ve commendably managed to achieve this whilst remaining unsigned. Is the idea of being in almost complete control sometimes quite daunting? Or would you not have it any other way?
YG: Thanks. I'm proud of it, sometimes it's daunting but we have great people working with us, and it's gotten us to where we are today so hopefully it will take us further. Right now I can't imagine it being any other way. It's all we know, and we like having the amount of control that we do.

ATP: Is remaining unsigned something you’d like to maintain, or can you see yourselves being signed to a label in the future?
YG: It's hard to predict what will be. A year ago I wouldn't have predicted where we are today, and as a rule I don't like thinking about the future, but who knows. I'm certainly happy with how things are and don't think that we want for much. Money would be nice, obviously, but as long as we're busy I'm happy. The industry is just so different now, and no doubt will be even more so in another year.

'All Our Kings Are Dead' by Young Guns is released today through the bands own label, Live Forever Records.

Young Guns on MySpace, Twitter and Facebook.

15 Tunbridge Wells Forum
16 Gloucester, Guildhall
17 Stoke-On-Trent Sugarmill
19 Cork Cyprus Avenue
20 Dublin Academy 2
21 Belfast Speakeasy
23 Leeds Cockpit
24 Birmingham Institute
25 Norwich Arts Centre
27 Newcastle Academy 2
28 Carlisle Brickyard
30 Glasgow Garage
01 Preston 53 Degrees
02 Manchester Academy 2
03 London Electric Ballroom
04 Brighton Concorde 2

Alex Howick

Alter The Press!