The Young are coming up on their third album, Chrome Cactus, the second for Matador, and easily their most effective, perhaps due to this being the first time the Austin, Texas four-piece have crafted their scrunchy stomp-pop in a proper studio. So everything is grabbier, tougher, catchier and fairly sweating with that something like confidence that comes when you’ve been a little road-tested and are inching out of being called young. “Now I’m gonna be/transfixed and free,” as singer/guitarist Hans Zimmerman states in Dressed In Black. He stated a few more things as we shot him some questions last week.
By now I’m sure you realize your band name is problematic. What are some of the more tiresome questions about your band name?
Not questions so much, just people complaining that it’s difficult to find via search engines and things like that.
This is your third album. I’m going to stick with this “young” thing for a second and assume that you feel you are still learning, as a band. What have you learned with each record, as far as recording?
I think it’s depressing to think that any artist or creative person would ever get to a place where they feel like they’ve stopped learning, as an individual or band or whatever. The spirit of discovery is very much a guiding principle for what we do, so I think that being young has less to do with pursuing those things. It’s a compulsion to discover more about what gets you over the top—that’s our trip.
How did you get together with Tim Green, and how was it recording with him?
I approached Tim about recording sometime in the late summer or early fall of 2013. I sent him some old material and demos for new songs and we talked over a bunch of ideas and got the ball rolling. Recording with him was fantastic. As a band, it was our first time making music in a bonafide recording studio; our previous releases were recorded by me either in our home studio or, in the case of Dub Egg, a west Texas cabin. Tim is a master and really tons of fun to work with, he has great ideas. It was really nice to not have to stress about mic placement or what sort of sounds were going to tape and just focus on the performance and vibe of the tracks. It’s a tricky balance when you’re engineering and playing on the same record. I’m very grateful he was on board for this record.
The notion is that this record is a bit darker, harder than previous efforts. I know you lost a bass player (details on that?), but has anything else happened in The Young world to harden you in the last two years?
We parted ways with our former bass player because we started to grow apart and it made for some disjointed creative experiences. The prospect of continuing with that lineup seemed pretty grim. On the whole I don’t think we’ve been hardened by the last two years, if anything that seedy creepiness has always been there—it’s just not what we’re always writing to or showing though. This record examines some uglier personal traits in a more overt way than Dub Egg, I think Voyagers Of Legend (Mexican Summer, 2010) has a few parallels to Chrome Cactus also.
Moondog First Quarter—what is that song about?
The song is about a desperate and depraved villain, off the rails and way too proud to get back on track. A voyeur in plain sight, always stalking.
Who is Ramona Cruz? And what’s that clanging noise in that song?
Ramona Cruz is adapted from the name of a shrimp boat. “Remona Cruz” is one of several in a fleet of fishing vessels I worked on as a teenager on the south Texas gulf coast. The clanging is a flat copper sheet and a disassembled light fixture, played by our drummer Ryan Maloney.
I’ve yet to have the pleasure of seeing you live. Give us your thoughts about your live show.
In a live setting we’re not afraid to take liberties with our songs. We might contort parts into extended segments with soloing or feedback, or truncate outros in order to transition to the next song. We’re less concerned with replicating the recorded material exactly as in our eyes those are site-specific and tied to a studio and the physical release. Occasionally we use our time on stage as a proving ground for new riffs. Sometimes they’re brand new ideas that get fucked up and mangled or we’ll hit a real groove and they just flow.
Someone asks you to name your “Top 10 Favorite Bands.” Does having a good live show come into that equation for you?
Yes and no. I like a ton of bands/artists that are dead or just not playing anymore. Sometimes you come across bands that rip live but suck on record (or haven’t captured that vibe on record yet); and the inverse is true too, great records with a lackluster live show. Records live forever, gotta get those things buttoned up.
You’re from Austin. Everyone knows Austin is live music festival central, seemingly another one every week. How do you think that helps, and hinders, the development of the local band scene?
Festivals do nothing for local bands outside of getting their names on a poster with national touring acts. In all likelihood a local playing a festival in town will be relegated to an opening slot, the welcoming committee.
Band Name Association—I’m going to throw a few band names out at you, and you tell me the first couple things that come to your mind.
Covering Hot Burrito #2. Also Budge is a banger.
Nation Of Ulysses
13-Point Program To Destroy America, DC-Dishcord and our buddy Tim Green.
Black Vinyl Shoes. Kyle (guitarist in The Young) showed me this years ago and I was floored by the production/songwriting.
Shake Some Action is a top album for me.
What a vapid, idiotic superstar. I totally love Bolan. So much boogie.
Rather listen to Velvet Underground or Crushed Butler.
Ripping solos, new LP in the works?
A Giant Dog
Harmonies for days, the snare sound on Bone is perfect.
Unstoppable. Live in SF record is so great.
The Boys, The Kids.
Vincebus Eruptum, later stuff with Randy Holden.
Chrome Cactus is out today via Matador.