Many songs have been written about New York City, from sources as diverse as Frank Sinatra and Jay Z. But after living in the city for three years, only one song has come close to capturing the physical feeling of walking down Broadway in the middle of the night and looking up, only to see the city surrounds not just you, but the stars. And it might surprise you to learn that this song comes not from a Manhattan band, but from British rock outfit Young Guns, who just debuted the track “Infinity” in preparation for their third studio album Ones and Zeros¸ due out June 9th.
I recently got the chance to talk to Young Guns' Fraser Taylor about Infinity, writing, and their new album.
Before you start, could you please introduce ourselves?
I'm Fraser, I play guitar and keys in the band.
What Was The Writing Process Like for Ones and Zeroes?
For the first time ever for us it was a lengthy process. We started writing some of the songs back in the beginning of 2013. Aside from time and travelling to different places it was relatively similar to writing our previous albums. Either John or myself will usually start off with a rough idea, be it a riff, a progression or a beat. Then, we'll take it to the other guys and let everyone add their stamp to it. We've always written in quite a democratic way and we generally don't use something unless we are all happy with it.
You've Mentioned in your release of "Infinity" that it was inspired by being in New York-- do you think that grounding music in a physical space makes a difference in how the song sounds?
I definitely think travelling has had an impact on how these songs sound. We spent a lot of time in New York recording some demos in a studio basically above Time Square and I think it would be difficult not to feed off that energy. However we wanted a British sounding record so we finally settled in Bath in the UK, probably the most quintessentially English place you'll ever go.
A Lot of your songs- not just "Infinity"- conjure up a feeling of being somewhere when you listen to them-- is this intentional?
There wasn't any intention to make our songs ground the listener in a certain place. The chorus lyrics for Infinity were written by John and Gus sitting out of the window in the apartment we were staying in and it was very much centered around that moment. I would say rather than wanting to conjure the feeling of being in a certain place it's more about relating to a moment and the emotions you get from that.
Young Guns have been compared to The Killers and Rise Against, and I would definitely say Interpol-- a lot of bands try to avoid being compared to other musicians, do you shy away from the comparisons or embrace them?
People will always have their own opinions on what a band sounds like. If comparing us to another musician gives someone a way in to listening to our music then it can only be a good thing. The Killers and Rise Against are two very different bands and we've never been compared to Interpol before and whether I agree or not, I'll gladly accept all three.
When writing an album, what are you hoping the listeners will get from your music?
I always remember back to the way albums made me feel when I was younger. Music can be so powerful and leave such a lasting impression on people. On a basic level all I want from this record or any of our previous ones is that people connect with it. It's so rewarding getting messages of how a song has helped people through a hard time, inspired them to do something for the first time or even just knowing it's playing at a house party thousands of miles away. That's what it's all about.
What specifically do you hope Ones and Zeros will convey?
I can't speak for Gustav from a lyrical point of view but for me the overall feeling of this record is a positive one. We've spent the last 5 years touring the world with everyone and anyone of all different genres and no matter what the show is people just want to come away having had a good time. There's a song on the record called 'Memento Mori' which means 'remember you will die'. So in other words make the most of every moment you have. That's something I hope people will take away from listening to this album.
Do you have a favorite track off of the upcoming record?
My favourite is a song called Lullaby. It's probably the most intimate song we have ever recorded. We started writing it in 2013 but we didn't actually decide on the finished version until we were in the studio in Bath. So it's been a real labour of love - countless different chorus and beats to get the right one but I'm so happy with the way it turned out.
What are your plans for after the release?
The album comes out half way through the UK headline tour we are on at the moment after that we head back to the states for a tour with Three Days Grace then back for a few European festivals and a show in Taiwan. That's about all the information I can divulge at this point in time but we just want to be out on the road seeing all the fans we haven't seen in a while.
Ones and Zeros comes out next week, and if you want to keep up with Young Guns you can check out their Facebook, or watch more of their videos on Youtube.