South of Eden's Justin Young: "For me, the guitar has got to have a lot of grit"

South of Eden's Justin Young
(Image credit: John Payne)

When Ohio rockers South of Eden released a cover of Audioslave’s Show Me How to Live last year, they never imagined that its writer – Tom Morello – much less the world, would take an interest.

Morello gave the song a shoutout on Twitter, calling it a “rocking cover”. The band’s debut EP, The Talk, likewise turned heads, an equally rocking preview of their debut full-length, which is out this year.

Taking cues from like-minded rockers from the past, the four-piece South of Eden create lean, unfiltered rock ’n’ roll. In addition to a tight rhythm section and charismatic vocals from Ehab Omran, the band gets much of its grit and power from guitarist Justin Young. Young fell in first love with the guitar through Angus Young (no relation!) and Eddie Van Halen and plans on similarly commanding the stage. 

“For me, the guitar has got to have a lot of grit,” Young says. “It's got to have balls, but it's also got to cut through and be clean at times. We have to bring the same energy that we bring to the stage into the studio.”

That happens naturally, as Ehab often writes songs envisioning Young playing them, which Young considers a compliment. 

“Every one of our songs is guitar-driven because we grew up listening to the same music and loving a lot of the same influences,” Young says.

“When we write songs, there has to be a hook, at least starting with the guitar. And then the vocals and the melody kind of carry on that to the next hook.” For example, Dancing with Fire features an opening riff that “kind of comes in out of nowhere” and “you know exactly [that] you're headed to this kind of rollercoaster sort of thing.”

Young credits working with Grammy-winning producer Greg Wells for allowing them to be themselves and let their freak flag fly. Wells let Young take as much time as he needed to perfect his solos.

“He has a way at making us all feel comfortable in our own skin and made us feel like, ‘Hey, we can do this,’” Young says. “He brought out a lot of things to me that I probably would've never gotten out myself.”

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Joshua M. Miller

Josh is a freelance journalist who has spent the past dozen or so years interviewing musicians for a variety of publications, including Guitar World,, SPIN, Chicago Sun-Times, MTV News, Rolling Stone and American Songwriter. He credits his father for getting him into music. He's been interested in discovering new bands ever since his father gave him a list of artists to look into. A favorite story his father told him is when he skipped a high school track meet to see Jimi Hendrix in concert. For his part, seeing one of his favorite guitarists – Mike Campbell – feet away from him during a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert is a special moment he’ll always cherish.