We're jammin' away to Spotify's #RockSaveTheQueen playlist featuring our favorite Englishman Young Guns and The Virginmarys.
Follow us on …
ONES AND ZEROS
We’re suffering from digital pain,
We lost the love of life on the way,
But ones and zeroes just can’t explain,
Theres something in the air when we’re together.
“I look around at the world and I see a lack of soul,” says Gustav Wood. “No matter how we choose to communicate, you simply cannot replicate the feeling of sharing a moment in time with another person.”
Ones And Zeros (produced by Steve Osbourne in Real World Studios) is Young Guns’ glorious examination of human communication and interaction. It is an ode to the majesty of single moments: the midnight conversations, the snatches of eye contact that spell doom or joy, the arguments and the nights that explode… they’re the things that define us and our relationships and friendships, the little morsels of time both positive and negative that, when stitched together, become a life remembered.
“Sometimes, I feel we’re losing something,” he continues. “We’ve had so many times together when we had a singular moment of being present and aware, and thinking about that started to bleed into the idea of where we are in this modern age.
“I used to try and make my lyrics as broad as possible, but now I understand that it’s more important to focus on what feel like the small moments, because those are what really shape us.”
As an album, it declares loudly that screens are no match for our own senses when it comes to documenting experiences. And vocalist Wood, guitarists John and Fraser Taylor, bassist Simon Mitchell and drummer Ben Jolliffe have had plenty of experiences since releasing second album Bones 2 years ago. The title track made history in the US when it hit Number One on the Active Rock radio chart after the longest unbroken streak ever; they’ve toured arenas on both sides of the Atlantic; they’ve played the main stages of the most prestigious festivals in the world; they’ve reached out and touched lives young and old worldwide.
Trouble is, none of that has been enough to satisfy Young Guns. As tempting as it was to consolidate the success of Bones by writing another dozen big-room get-to-the-chorus-quickly rock thumpers, the band have decided to bet everything – the accumulated fanbase, the new major label contract, the opportunities afforded them as the UK’s best hope for breaking the US – on the brave, bold and thoroughly brilliant Ones And Zeros. It’s just as big a leap as Bones was ahead of 2010’s debut All Our Kings Are Dead.
“What happened in the last year has been amazing,” says Jolliffe, “but we didn’t want to just do it all again. We didn’t want to be defined by something we had already done, so when we were writing new songs we felt like the possibilities were endless.”
With its new vocabulary that mixes analogue and digital to thrilling effect, Ones And Zeros speaks keenly of a desire to never sit still; it’s a hyperactive child of an album that’s forever pressing buttons just to see what happens. “A large part of the writing was hooked around drum loops and synth progressions because we had to find a new way to inspire ourselves,” explains Wood.
“We wrote a lot that felt like it could go on the last album and we were bored by it, and it wasn’t until we expanded our palette of tools that we felt excited by music again. Picking up new instruments was organic. John would sit up all night writing really cool melody leads on soft synths and samplers and those moments were what we enjoyed the most.
“There was no one in our world that was inspiring us, and we felt trapped by what we thought was a really stale scene. This is our way out. We’re not constricted any more.”
First single “I Want Out” – which, with a unique voice, speaks loudly and clearly of ambition and scope – marked the birth of the album when the band wrote it in New York City during a short interval between tours last summer. It became a new benchmark for what new songs had to measure up to, but after an initial burst of creativity their rigorous touring schedule took over and they returned home for Christmas with only a handful of songs.
Following an experimental session in San Francisco with Dan The Automator in March, writing continued last April back in London in the shared house the entire band bar Mitchell had moved into. This newfound space and time gave them a freedom to explore like never before, and once they got started the songs flowed from wells they’d never before tapped.
“I know every band says this,” smiles Wood, “but we wanted to sound like ourselves and only ourselves. Ironically, that led to us picking up and learning new instruments in order to find sounds that really appealed to us.”
The results are as playful as they are fearless. The likes of “Infinity”, which celebrates the feeling of being able to take on the world after a legendary night out, and “Gravity”, which parses the agonising death of a relationship into a story about an astronaut slowly drifting into space, are among the most audacious songs Young Guns have ever written. They constitute the band making a conscious effort to push themselves further than ever before, another statement of intent from a band who are known for rejecting the easy life.
Ones And Zeros is the sound of an adventure, of risks taken confidently and of the search for something new. It is a snapshot of chaotic life itself, but contained within are truths and evidence that there is simply no substitute for reaching out a hand.