Hamilton, Ontario’s 3-piece Young Rival is going to make many people very happy with their brand new album Stay Young. Released on revered Canadian indie label Sonic Unyon, the band exudes a British pop-sense, a heavy dose of Garage, and the spirit of good ol’ Rock N Roll.
Though there is no mention of any upcoming US tour dates on their website, Canadian folks and faithful travelers with valid passports can catch them during their November run on Ontario and Quebec. I got in touch with drummer Noah to talk about the group’s formation, new record, a bit of fluff, and what we can expect from the group in 2013.
G- Hi may I speak with Noah, please?
N- This is Noah.
G- Hi Noah! This is Greg Allis calling for Live High Five. How are you?
N- Good thanks.
G- You’re in Canada right now, correct?
N- Yea I’m up in Toronto.
G- Oh very nice! I still haven’t had poutine yet in my life…
N- Oh dude! That’s where it’s at… Super good!
G- Well, let’s just start if off right right there, because I’m on the hunt. Where do you go for your poutine, and where is it?
N- So, I go to… There’s a place called, well, there’s a lot of options, but I’m vegetarian so I get the vegetarian poutine which is still quite tasty. But there’s a place called Poutini’s down on Queens Street in Toronto that’s very good.
G- Right on. I love Toronto, but I was there for work so I definitely didn’t get to do enough ripping around and partying like I wanted to do. But the next time I go up there, I have a feeling I’m going to gain even more weight due to all the recommendations.
Anyways, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! Since it’s very new to me and will be very new to many of our readers, if you could, introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
N- Ok so my name is Noah and I play the drums. We’ve got Aron D’Alesio on lead guitar and vocals, and John Smith on bass. We’re from Hamilton, Ontario… 2 guys live there, and I’m in Toronto.
G- Nice! I’m actually a drummer, too. What equipment do you have and what are you playing on?
N- I actually just picked up a vintage late 60’/early 70’s Gretsch kit. 3-piece shell pack, white marine pearl. It’s a beauty and I’m really excited to take it on tour with us.
G- That’s excellent. Good drums! Gretsch makes a very solid product!
N- They do. Really nice stuff!
G- Right on! So, you’ve got your new record, and it’s titled Stay Young on Sonic Unyon, and Sonic Unyon is a great label and they don’t put out crap, so I wanted to talk about the record a little bit. Tell us about the tunes… Where did you record the record, who was behind the boards, and where did you find the inspiration to write your new material?
N- We did it in Toronto at a studio called The Drain House, and it was recorded by a guy named John Drew. He’s done a lot of cool records that we really like. He did some stuff by punk band Fucked Up, and Tokyo Police Club, and he’s been a real mainstay in this area and is a really good guy to work with, so we were excited. He’s just really great at capturing things like the rhythm section of the band and getting a really strong, low end sound. So yea that’s sort of how we decided to do that.
As far as the inspiration for a lot of the songs, we just really wanted to make a record that was fun to play live, and that people would really enjoy hearing and seeing live. And we just wanted to, as we’re touring around, we wanted to just bring a party with us. I think these songs kind of got that across and have reached that goal.
G- Right on. The stuff that Zach (Shaw) sent me was really, really good and I might actually make it up to Toronto at some point. I ping pong across the state of NY and while I’m that way, I might have to cross the bridge and check you guys out in November.
G- So, tell us a little bit about the writing process. What is it like, and who in the band typically comes up new music? Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming during rehearsals?
N- It kinda comes about in a few different ways. Normally Aron, our singer and guitar player, will come up with an idea and bring it to the band, and then we’ll kind of, from there, jam it out and structure it all together and come up with new parts together. So, it’s both individual and collaborative as we break it down, and build it back up.
G- Ok. And how long did Stay Young take to write and record in your estimation?
N- I’d say we were writing songs for about 4 months, and we recorded in about 2 weeks last August. And then, we’ve just been sort of sitting on the record for almost a whole year. We were sorting out some release details and things like that, so we’re just really excited to get it out. But yea all in all, I think it took about 5 months from writing to recording.
Generally, once we have our songs, we’re a really quick band in the studio. We don’t like to take too much time; We just like to get in there and do what we have to do and get out and tour, so…
G- It sounds good, man. You definitely sound like a live band. And since it sounds like it, would you say that Young Rival is a party band, or are you guys generally pretty mellow on and off stage? And if it’s your bag, what kind of beers and booze do you guys want people bringing to the stage when you’re performing?
N- (laughing) I’m a bourbon man, myself.
N- Any bourbons are fine by me. But yea, I think we’re definitely a band that wants to create a good time and have a blast. So we definitely try to bring a party everywhere we go. Yea… I think we’re just kind of curious to hit the road, and on Thursday we’ll be on tour again, and just really excited to be back in that way of life, just town to town and stuff. And we’re really excited about how the release is going so far, so we can’t wait to bring the party to all these Ontario/Quebec states.
G- Well, hopefully we can get you down here across the border at some point, too!
N- That’d be great! We played NY in the spring, and I think we want to get back there more. We’re trying to figure that out, but it’s certainly a goal.
G- Yea if you think I could help, let me know because I think your sound would go over very well in NY. I think that a lot of people are really going to dig the new record, and I think that that’s your spot… You sound like a bunch of city boys.
N- (laughing) We definitely are!
G- Now today, it’s a pretty big day in American, US politics, whatever. But what I’d like to know is, as Canadian citizens, do you guys up there just kind of laugh at our current state of affairs? How you feel about politics and our upcoming presidential election, and what do you think we could learn from our friendly neighbors to the north?
N- (laughing) Umm, you know, being Canadian, it’s a really unique perspective on what’s happening in America. I think it’s really complicated, to be honest. My girlfriend lives in Los Angeles, so I’ve spent a fair bit of time there to see what it’s like to be internally inside the country and get a feel for the politics and people’s attitudes as a Canadian.
What’s interesting is, as a Canadian, more people would follow a US election than would follow a Canadian federal election. I think it’s because there’s just an insane amount of money put into your election that it’s such a news item. Even for example, tonight I’m going to a friend’s house just to, like, hang out and have a few drinks and see who wins this thing. So, that’s something I probably wouldn’t do even for the Canadian election because I think Canadians approach politics a little more differently. There’s caps on how much parties can spend, and it’s not as overblown as the US system is.
I mean, to me, I don’t know… The US is in a really difficult place right now, and it’s crazy to see just how divided it is, and it’s kind of scary and troubling because our differences are so massive. Like to Canadians, I think that super obvious stuff like health care, like, that’s who we are. We have sick public health care, and we don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to have that. So, I think for us, more than anything, it’s being forced to dialogue and pointless to debate. It’s actually about sitting down and talking and having a conversation, not an argument. I think watching a lot of stuff with Obama and Romney is a lot of people taking partisan lines and getting really invested in arguing their point, and not listening and not having an actual constructive dialogue.
G- Yea. It seems like a really big, expensive dick measuring competition, and the American citizens seem to be the ones getting screwed in the end.
N- (laughing) Well, I hope it turns out well.
G- Me too. I might need room on your couch up there, so I’ll let you know.
But anyway, let’s get back to why we’re doing this in the first place… What should your fans, both old and new, expect of the performances when you guys hit the road? What should some of the first time listeners expect to see when you take the stage, man?
N- I think it’s just a lot of high energy. We just like to play a set that doesn’t involve a lot of dips in terms of getting into quieter, more acoustic territory. We’re pretty much straight ahead Rock n Roll, and I think people can just expect a Rock n Roll show, just something that’s good times and a lot of fun, and that’s generally what we put out there, for sure.
G- Beautiful! And with the new record, or previous recordings that you’ve done, do you have a favorite song you have ever written? Or, if you were to give someone who’d never heard of Young Rival before 1 song to try to make a new fans, what song would you offer them and why?
N- Hmm. Good question. Umm, There’s a new song on the record called “Black is Good,’ and I think that that’s a song that encompasses a few different sides of the band. Upbeat, poppy, really kind of energetic sound to it. It’s just hooky! And I think that we’re always a band that tries to write good hooks that people can sing along to and enjoy. So, I think it sums up a certain aspect of our band for sure, and we’re really proud of that song in particular. But that’s a really good question, and I think that would be my answer.
G- Right on. For sure. And to get a little further speculation going on, are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future, and if you could pick out 3 bands to make up your Dream lineup, who would you pick and why?
N- Hmmm. I think one band that we always come back to and respect in a whole lot of ways in Queens of The Stone Age. I think that they’re a band that is commercially super successful, but respected to the core. They’re really talented, and we’ve always really loved bands that are good players and really good at their instruments and have good musicianship. I think that the art of musicianship is something that can be lost in a lot of rock bands of the day. So, that would be a dream tour for all of us.
If we were to think back to decades pasts, I think we’re all fans of early The Kinks, and if we could do some kind of fusion tour with QOTSA, The Kinks, early Beatles, The Stones…
G- WHOA (laughing)
N- Is that what you meant?
G- Wow… You just blew the doors wide off. I was just thinking of something feasible, but if it’s going to be that kind of party, you know.
N- (laughing) We’ll see about QOTSA cuz they’re still all together. Yea.
G- For sure! Now, youhave some shows under your belt, and you’ve been around for a while… What is the craziest or most memorable show that Young Rival has played to date? It doesn’t have to be the largest show, but just a show that went off the hardest or hold a special place in your heart. Where was it and what was it like?
N- I think it’s when we did a big show in our hometown in Hamilton at the coliseum, which is like our arena, in the city. That was surreal! It was just a totally crazy experience. It was a place that when I grew up, I saw all of the foundational rock bands of my youth, you know? And to be playing there was just completely surreal. I don’t even really remember it. It just felt really special and special for all 3 of us. It was just a really cool moment and it felt like we were all doing the right thing.
G- That’s great, man. Well hopefully you can have many more of those in the future. I’m behind you, and I hope our readers will enjoy your music, and yea… I got you back for sure!
N- Thanks, man.
G- No problem. Now, you’ve been doing this for a while, but you’re still really a young band. You’re still trying to expand, as all bands are, and you’re putting in your dues. As someone who is building in the music industry, there are a lot of kids out there and the band dream will never die… What advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
N- I think above all else you just have to love playing. You can’t get so caught up in a lot of the business sides of things and the frustrations that come along with that because the industry is confused at the moment and particularly difficult. But if you don’t love playing, it’s not going to go far at all. So I think it is important that, as a band especially, set some core values and really find the things that you all believe in. And for us, and a lot of the bands that I respect, it is that they just love to play their instruments and love to play with the people that they play with. So, above all else, I’d say that.
And I think it’s also important to just try to stay creative and don’t get bogged down in the difficulties. Use that and be inspired by it, because it can be very frustrating being in a band that is trying to get attention. It’s a very difficult thing at times, so it’s about turning that into something productive and not being destructive, whether it’s attitude or creative process. So always be looking forward and trying to move on.
G- That’s excellent! Well, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today and have a safe tour! I look forward to having you guys down here one day!
N- Thank you so much. The 3 of us really appreciate it.
G- No problem!