BLOOD YOUTH (from l-r): Max Dawson (bass), Sam Hallett (drums), Kaya Tarsus (vocals), Chris Pritchard (guitar)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Blood Youth, a four-piece melodic hardcore band from the small Yorkshire town of Harrogate, are currently one of the most exciting emerging talents around.
Formed two years ago from the ashes of Climates, they have released two positively received EPs and have gained a diverse, rapidly-growing following.
Even the loss of guitarist Sam Bowden and drummer Matt Powels to Neck Deep last year hasn’t put them off course.
I sat down and chatted with them about their music, recent EP and forthcoming UK tour.
How did the band initially get together?
KAYA TARSUS (VOCALS): The band is a culmination of friend groups and old bands.
Chris, Sam and I are all from a little town called Harrogate, and I used to be in a band there, and Chris used to be in a band there as well.
Chris’s band supported my band years ago, and it was literally just one of those things where you ring them up and ask them “Do you want to start a band?”.
I was living in Spain at the time, but I came back to do this.
How did the name Blood Youth come about?
CHRIS PRITCHARD (GUITAR): Before the name came about, we had two names, one of them was Blood Brothers, Black Blood, something like that.
Our manager at the time suggested the name Blood Youth and we were like “Okay”.
We found out later that it’s a sporting term for giving a younger generation a chance to play in sports teams.
To somebody discovering your music for the first time, how would you describe it to them?
CHRIS: Passive aggression.
KAYA: That’s a good way to describe it.
CHRIS: We’ve got something for everyone really, we’ve got both a The 1975 fanatic and a Slipknot enthusiast in the band, so we kind of merge the two together, we’ve got the heavy verses, we’ve got the singing choruses, there’s something for everyone.
KAYA: We have a really mixed fan base, there’s guys who come to our shows and they want to pit and fight, and then there’s other guys and girls who just want to come and sing along.
It’s really cool to see that as well, because we play so many different types of music.
Which bands/artists are you influenced by?
KAYA: There are so many.
The 1975, Every Time I Die, Architects, Issues, Slipknot…
Me and Chris have always had such admiration for hardcore, old school hardcore and stuff like that.
I’m a huge fan of Henry Rollins and how he conducts himself through music and everything, and I used to just worship Black Flag.
I wouldn’t say they aren’t any Black Flag influences on our music, but we take inspiration from so many different sources.
We also love grime and stuff like that, so yeah, lots of different stuff.
Your EP ‘Closure’ came out earlier this year. How well do you think the reaction has been, considering it was your first work without Sam Bowden and Matt Powels?
CHRIS: We got blown away by the amount of people who actually checked out our EP and bought or downloaded it.
When we got the first week’s numbers, we thought there had been a mistake, so we asked our label at the time to send it to us again.
We had another look and said to them “Are you joking? This seems unreal”, so yeah, everyone seems to love everything that we put out, and it’s good to see that people seem to understand the direction we’re heading in, which hasn’t been forced, it’s just been a natural progression for us.
There’s better songwriting, a better recording process and the guy we worked on the EP with, Jonny Renshaw, he absolutely killed it.
What’s your approach to songwriting?
KAYA: It usually takes a few weeks for us to, and this sounds very cheesy, gather inspiration for the songs.
I can’t just sit there and go “Something’s just come to me”, it’s usually when I’m writing lyrics, I’ll write about various bits and pieces about what’s been going on, something really shit that’s happened that week, and I’ll just write about that and send it off to Chris, who is a riff machine, and he’ll bang them out on his guitar.
We’ll all then get together and work together on it some more.
I would say we are very mixed in what our songs are about, there’s a song about my mum, there’s a whole EP about my ex-girlfriend…
CHRIS: There’s a song about your old apartment as well.
KAYA: Yes, there’s a song about an apartment I used to live in, sleeping on my friend’s bedroom floor and stuff like that.
The fact that people will come up to us and send messages which go, “I totally get what you’re saying there”, that’s all I ever asked for as a reception sort of thing.
You’re going on tour later this month. How is touring and playing live for you?
SAM HALLETT (DRUMS): I love it.
The first show I did after joining the band was in front of 1,200 people, but I love touring and playing shows, also the in-between parts between shows where we hang around and I get harrassed by Chris’s dad.
Less fun, but he loves it! (laughs)
CHRIS: My dad was our original tour manager, but he still comes on the road to enjoy himself and have a laugh with us.
SAM: Before that, it was the merchandise guy and he was even more of a laugh!
KAYA: I prefer being on the road to recording any day, I just love touring.
Have you got anything else lined up in the near future?
KAYA: We’ve got a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes at the moment, a lot of writing has been done, so we’re working on that.
Obviously, we’ve got our tour and everything, but it’s kind of difficult to say out loud what’s going on, because we never know what we’re allowed to say, and we’ve been told off once before for saying something we shouldn’t have.
But it’s all good, it’s all positive.
CHRIS: We’ve got a lot of future studio time as well, and some good stuff to look forward to.
What’s the band’s long-term aim?
KAYA: To headline Wembley.
Our manager said she’d get the band name tattooed on her if we ever get to play there.
At the time, we thought that would never happen, but now, it seems to be a rather positive goal to aim for.
We always shoot for the top, I know that sounds a bit arrogant, but you’ve got to be sometimes.
CHRIS: If you’re not, what are you in it for?
Apart from the fun, obviously.
BLOOD YOUTH WILL BE GOING ON A UK TOUR WITH ZOAX IN SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER 2016.