Young Guns - Go for it!

Gustav Wood remains down to earth despite his band's meteoric rise to eminence. Scott Adams caught up for a chat with him about classic rock,a possible jazz odyssey and their upcoming jaunt down under a part of Soundwave Revolution.

Young Guns are one of those bands that lazy journalists love – the overnight sensations that have actually taken a fair while to reach the exalted attention and adulation of the great unwashed. Vocalist Gustav Wood formed the band in 2003 and it’s taken some hard yakka to get to the privileged point of talking to Metal as Fuck about his band and, perhaps more importantly, his domiciliary arrangements.

“That’s an English accent!” There’s not much getting past Mr Wood, even down an extremely muffled phone line. He’s right, so I reciprocate with an observation of my own.

“It is. And you’re from High Wycombe! I’m from Marlow!” However it would appear I’m not hitting the bullseye with my ice-breaking statement.

“Well, actually I’m from London, but I’m staying at our drummer’s gran’s house at the moment in Bourne End. Small world eh?”

I should point out here that Bourne End is the neighbouring small town to my home town, thus confirming Gustav’s assertion on the ever shrinking size of our globe. Anyways, now that we’ve bonded through geography, it’s time to talk about the band, who’ve been making a few waves on the other side of the globe with their highly melodic brand of Funeral for a Friend styled hard rock. It’s been a hectic twelve months for the band.

“It has, it’s been mad. I sometimes have to try and step away from things to take stock of it all; We are in the middle of writing our second album at the moment, it’s midnight here and I am taking some time off from that to talk to some Australian based journalists. When you sit and think about what has happened to us in the last year, it’s just mad.”

I’m interested you mention the importance of stepping back from it all. It would be very easy just to let yourself go and be consumed by the madness.

“It’s so easy, and you can see it happening to others along the way. I guess you just have to be careful and keep focusing on the music.”

This is a good policy, and one that has borne fruit for Wood and company over the course of the last two years, a period which has seen them release a string of well received EPs and an album, All Our Kings Are Dead, which was successful enough for the band to head out on its own headlining tour of its homeland. Throw in some high profile festival dates (where the band shared stages with the likes of Guns n’Roses and Queens of the Stone Age) and a prestigious London support to Bon Jovi and you have what’s known in the trade as a ‘whirlwind rise to fame’.

It’s highly amusing, of course, for a band that calls itself Young Guns to be supporting Bon Jovi. How did that come about?

“Well, actually, someone was running a competition and the prize was a support slot for one of their London shows last year. Our manager kept telling us we needed to enter, and we kept saying no. We thought there would be no point. We’d have no chance of winning. Anyway, in the end we thought why not? We entered and we won! We turned up at the O2 Arena (formerly known as the Millennium Dome, where Jon Bon held a seemingly interminable residency during the last English summer) in our old sprinter van… just thinking how have we got here! We didn’t get to meet the band of course, but it was a great experience.”

The stuff dreams are made of for a young rocker?

“Well, you know I was born in the mid eighties – I’m 27 now – and Bon Jovi is one of those acts that just seepes into your consciousness, you know? Like Michael Jackson! So it was a big deal, yes.”

You mentioned earlier the new album. How is writing going?

“It’s going good, yes. We’re very conscious that we need to strike out from where we were at the time we did the first album. It’s a cliché – the difficult second album – but at the moment we’re enjoying it and I think doing a good job of improving on what we did before.”

Is it always at the back of your mind that there might be some – possibly even a lot – of YG fans who don’t really want you moving too far from what made them like you in the first place?

“You have to be mindful of that, and respect the feelings of your fans, yes. But I would hope that our fans have good enough taste to appreciate what we are trying to do and to go with us. We are trying something a bit different, but it’s not as if we’re doing a Mars Volta or anything!”

No 32 minute jazz epics then?

“No. Or prog epics!”

That’s comforting to know. It’s very important though, artistically, to feel that you can stretch out. Not everyone can be AC/DC.

“Haha, that’s right. Although I saw them a couple of times on the Black Ice Tour and they were brilliant. Not that I would ever put myself or the band in the same bracket as AC/DC though…”

The reason that we’re talking of course is that Young Guns will soon be upon us in Australia for the Soundwave Revolution run of shows in September, where they’ll add Van Halen to the ever growing list of classic hard rock bands they’ve supported. To my mind this is even more exciting than failing to meet Richie Sambora. Am I right?
“I think you are, yes. It’s very exciting.”

You are still, though a comparatively young band, with a very ‘now’ sound, yet many of these support slots have seen you matched up with bands that you’d expect to attract a much older audience – how does that work for you?

“It’s surprising, but the audience we play to at our own shows is very wide, age-wise. We get a lot of dads bringing their kids to the shows and really enjoying it themselves. At the last run of shows a guy of about fifty came up and showed me his Young Guns tattoo, which was pretty cool.”

So you don’t tailor your performance to the show?

‘No. It’s another cliché, but you play small clubs like they are arenas and arenas like they are small clubs. It seems to work.”

Can’t wait to find out!