Interview: Young Guns and the gift of time: “We wanted to do something we hadn’t already done”

With their ‘Ones and Zeros’ album, Young Guns have time on their side - and it’s a first.

In late 2013 Young Guns were about to start work on the follow-up to second album, ‘Bones’. After a trip to North America however, things started to heat up for the Buckinghamshire five-piece. Drawing attention to themselves Stateside, it wasn’t long before the album’s title track was being played across US radio, and climbed to the top of the Billboard Active Rock charts. The ball had started to roll and it was better for the band to strap themselves in than to stop the ride, so their immediate plans were adjusted.

“I think at this point,” says frontman Gustav Wood, “because we recorded this album back at the end of last summer, excited isn’t the word. Now, I’m just like, ‘God, can we fucking get it out already?!’” He laughs. “I am excited for what comes afterwards; touring again, playing festivals again. The whole process of being a band is about to start again and that is really exciting.”

Over the last three years, a lot has happened for the band. Not only did they spend much of last year trying to squeeze in time to work on their new record while nurturing their rising profile over in the States, but they signed a deal with Virgin EMI for good measure. Luckily, the time that they were afforded to spend on their forthcoming effort ‘Ones and Zeros’ worked in their favour.

“I think that, sometimes in the past, we’ve had to write an album in a month and record it in a month, and we haven’t had time to reflect on anything,” the frontman offers, from the other side of the Atlantic. The band are currently pulled up outside the venue they’ll be playing later in the day, over in Joliet, IL. “You end up thinking, ‘Okay, well, I’m glad of what we did with that album but I wish we could’ve done this or could’ve done that.’ I think that’s kind of inevitable within the creative process, but it is very much a snapshot of where you are and who you are at that point, so you’re always able to look back on it. This time, it felt like we were able to take a little more time on it - not through choice, of course - but it was good that we were able to do that and that we were able to have time to figure out what we did and didn’t want to do on there. But on the other hand, no matter how long we spend on a record, I always hope that I’ll go back and wish I’d done something different; I think that’s the best part about growing and evolving as a songwriter.”

“It was just really a logical continuation of challenging ourselves”

Gustav Wood

With their newest record, the band had one objective: to tread new ground. Having spent the majority of their career so far leaning towards the classic arrangements of rock bands, ‘Ones and Zeros’ gave them the opportunity to explore different musical elements. “It wasn’t really about sitting down and going, ‘Okay, what can we add to make this cool and new?’” he says, referencing the dark electronics that have found their way embedded into the full-length. “It was more about the idea that we really wanted to do something we hadn’t already done. We have always written around piano - I write most of my melodies on piano - and then it’d be about how to build on that with guitars. This time, we were just like, ‘Why do we need to do that so much?’ There’s nothing wrong with it and again, it was partly down to having more time.

“When we began writing, we were writing stuff that maybe could have gone on the last record and we realised that that was really uninspiring for us, and we don’t want to repeat ourselves. Mentally, we have tried to get out of that thinking and just do what we wanna do. We just decided, ‘Let’s write what we want to write and have a little bit of faith in that.’ That’s all we’ve ever done and it’s gotten us to the position we’re in now, so it was just really a logical continuation of challenging ourselves and trying to look at things in different lights to try and write in a way that was interesting and exciting for our band.”

Taken from the June 2015 issue of DIY, out now. Young Guns’ new album ‘Ones and Zeros’ is out now via Virgin EMI.