Interview: Gustav Wood and John Taylor of Young Guns Discuss 'Bones' and the UK Scene
A new band from the UK might just take the U.S. by storm.
Young Guns, who recently signed with Wind-Up Records, is a London-based band consisting of vocalist Gustav Wood, guitarists Fraser Taylor and John Taylor, bassist Simon Mitchell and drummer Ben Jolliffe. After toping British music charts and playing to thousands of people across the pond, they are officially U.S.-bound.
On September 4 their latest album Bones, which was nominated for Best Album at the Kerrang! Awards last month, will be released in the U.S. The album's title track was also nominated for Best Single.
I had the opportunity to chat with Gustav Wood and John Taylor, who raise expectations that a new wave of rock is brewing in the land of the Rolling Stones and Ozzy Osborne.
GUITAR WORLD: You guys are having a really big year. You have a new album and you were nominated for best single for your song "Bones" at the Kerrang! Awards. How does it feel for you guys?
Gustav: It’s kind of funny because we’ve been together since 2003 if you go by our MySpace page, but really this band got together in 2008, so it’s actually been a bit of whirlwind. Things have happened very quickly. But this year feels amazing. We’ve put our second record out, Bones, in February home in the UK, and already we’ve had the busiest year we’ve ever had as a band. We’ve achieved more this year already rather than the other fours years combined.
What do you think made this album such a success?
John: I think we really just found our writing skills. The first album was quite a rush to write, but this one we really took our time and felt really good about getting rid of anything that felt like it wouldn’t be good for this record and really refining our songs. And I think the end result was really a lot better.
Gustav: Yes, a lot of late nights, a lot of stress went into it. It was really about trying to raise the bar to push ourselves to be better musicians. And I think in the end the proof is in the pudding, as we say over here. It’s an intimately better record and more confident and more self-assured so we’re really happy with it.
It’s been amazing. We came off the back of a really good two years with the first record, and we really achieved way more than ever we expected to achieve with something that was released with relatively humble circumstances on an independent record label here in the UK. And we just kind of hit the road and played to anyone and everyone. And when it came to releasing this record, we definitely had higher hopes and we did set the bar a bit higher and our ambition was greater than the first time around. It’s just fantastic to be sitting in the middle of a year to already feel like things have taken a massive step up. To have signed an American record deal with a label like Wind Up.
John, what went into some of the guitar work for this album?
John: I think when I was writing, what I was trying to do … we wrote a whole bunch of stuff, so the recording wasn’t really the direction we wanted to go ... so I went back into my record collection and started listening to the songs that made me feel something instantly when I heard them when was a kid the first time. So I wanted every song on the album to have that kind of feel. So I mainly took inspiration from that, but I wanted to sound natural at the same time.
Are there any particular instruments you used on this album?
John: I actually used only one guitar for the entire album. I think Fraser used a couple, but a majority of the written parts were done with a Fender Baritone Jaguar and it just sounded really great. So I stuck to that for the majority of my parts.
John, did you and Fraser grow up around guitars?
John: I always wanted to play guitar and nothing else. I remember when I had my first guitar lesson when I was about 7. I used to get taught by this blind lady that lived down the street. I got lessons for a good few years. I can’t say if any of it really helped. I think a lot of the skills you pick up playing guitar are self-taught. And I think my brother just kind of followed suit.
What was it like producing with Dan Weller on this album?
John: Dan is such a great guy to work with. We’ve done every recording so far with him. I remember when we first started it was kind of daunting, being a guitarist and playing in front of him and basically put our songs into his judgment. But he’s such a great producer and he’s good at getting the best out of anyone that records with him.
Gustav: I agree.
What’s the rock scene like in the U.K.?
John: Strangely in the last two years it’s really kind of blown up. And now it’s become almost a little saturated with a lot of bands that sound quite similar. So it’s kind of hard to separate ourselves from that at the same time but it’s a really healthy scene at the moment.
Gustav: Something really bizarre has happened in the UK because there has been a whole period of time in the early 2000s, 2008, 2009, it was very stale, and the underground scene was quite starved. But there’s definitely been kind of a new breed over the past couple of years of a bunch bands with tons of talent. We find ourselves in the position now where we’re just one of a whole bunch of great bands, young bands in the UK that are starting to do well and starting to break through. It’s actually a really exciting time to be in a band, it feels like we’re amongst something.
Photo: Ashley Maile