INTERVIEW: Young Astronaut
Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thanks, we’re good. Just got back from a festival where we spent a lot of time in the rain so currently drying off. Aside from that, we’ve been busy working on and promoting our most recent record.
Can you talk to us more about your latest album “A Gold Frontier”?
‘A Gold Frontier’ has been the focus of our attention for the last 5 years. What started out as a couple of melodies and guitar arrangements gradually transformed into an 11 track showcase of what we’re capable of. The album has a lot to offer with tracks that are poppy and instantly memorable through to subtleties that ask the listener to take time to appreciate it. We threw as many different textures into the mix as possible with brass, a choir, strings, melodicas, household items such as lanterns and anything else that added to our sound. Lyrically there are songs about the village Chris and Pete grew up in, traveling stories and long streams of consciousness.
How did the album name come about?
We spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to call the record. We originally wanted to call it ‘Howl’ but there’s a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club album with the same name. We ended up picking a phrase that we liked out of the album’s opener ‘Chasing El Dorado’.
Did any event/s in particular inspire you to write the material?
Notably, the first song ‘Chasing El Dorado’ was lyrically inspired by making the decision to leave your home comforts, job to travel alone. It was written on a lot of long bus journeys.
Wellow is an ode to the village Pete and I grew up in (it’s named after it in fact). I wanted the write the lyrics after leaving for quite a few years and how I thought about it now.
How was the recording and writing process?
It was a long process; it took us 5 years to finish but we spent a lot of time finessing each track on the record until we were finally happy with how they sounded. We were lucky enough to work with Geoff Swan (White Lies, Coldplay, Bastille) who added his magic touch as a producer and mixer too. We also came to the realisation whilst we were making it that we didn’t need to be in an expensive studio to record a lot of it – most of the vocals were tracked in Niko’s (drummer) cupboard.
What’s your favourite track from the record and why?
Ink is quite unique and really enjoyable to play live. We experimented with the percussive introduction a lot and were able to overlay a cello to bring the song together. It’s got a lot of energy to it.
As for the fantastic official videos for the singles, can you tell us more about them and how they visually complement the music?
Most of the credit here goes to our director Rich Dimery. He worked insanely hard on all of them. We shot three videos with him (two of them with Simon Chmiewliski on the second camera):
The Old Cool lyrics are loosely inspired by the 80s movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. For the video, we wanted to reflect the reckless and impulsive nature of the character so we dressed Niko, Paul and Pete in masks and followed them around all night. They break into an old lady’s swimming pool, steal a car and drive it around, disregarding the law in the pursuit of cheap thrills. The BMXs have that E.T.-esque feel and the car is a old classic red one (a subtle wink to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).
As mentioned, Chasing El Dorado is about making the decision to leave your home comforts and life to travel alone and the challenges you may face. The video acts a metaphor by focusing on the main protagonist who is a great roller skater and wants to be a part of her local roller skating community but struggles with her confidence. She gets this confidence knocked early in the video but eventually overcomes this and wins a skating showdown at the end of the video.
The Chronicles of Fall & Glory has a slightly different feel. We shot a card game as a metaphor for the uncertainty that goes along with self-doubt and anxiety, a theme that the track touches on. As for the aesthetic, it has a smoky saloon bar feel to it which we thought would be a visually interesting way to portray this simple concept.
How different are the new tracks from your previous material?
Our first album was quite folky, it was written on a couple of acoustic guitars and the other sounds were added just before recording. For this record, we had a lot more to work with – we were able to rehearse the tracks in a full band environment shortly after we’d worked on the initial concepts and we were a lot more open minded when it came to the arrangements. This gave us time to spend a bit longer figuring out how we wanted the track to come across.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yep, we’re working on dates as we speak.
Why should people pay attention to Young Astronaut? What’s special about you?
Our attention to detail. The lyric writing starts from day one and ends minutes before recording – Chris is a perfectionist when it comes to his lyrics, it can take a long time to feel like you’ve said everything you need to say. We also spend a long time perfecting every track, even if that involves adding strings, brass and a choir.
What else is happening next in Young Astronaut’s world?
Aside from pushing ‘A Gold Frontier’ out into the world, we’ve started the process of writing new material which is exciting.
Hi C, welcome to VENTS! How have you been? Hi VENTS! Thank you. No complaints …