House of Tracks met up with Henry of The Young Knives for a quick chat before their gig at Rock City in Nottingham.
How was SXSW festival?
Hard work, not a lot of fun to be had there. Last year we had a great time but this year we just did a shit load of gigs. We had a really good time it was just absolutely exhausting.
Oh no, how many gigs did you do?
Eight over four days. You’ll do things like a radio session, it’s only five or six songs but you have to get your voice warmed up and when you hit third set up of the day you just think ‘Oh god’ but it’s always good fun you get back into the mode of it.
What bands did you get to see?
We missed all the buzz bands like Bat For Lashes. There’s no way I’m ever going to be organised enough to get to anything early enough to get in. I saw Foals and all of the Transgressive bands. I saw Cold War Kids again, they’re so good live, and they’re serious musicians who love doing it. You can tell that they’re really putting the effort in to make it interesting and new. I saw Daniel Johnston ‘cause I really wanted to see him. He writes all his songs about one girl and he’s a big fatty and he’s got this crap backing band but really nice tunes but he’s just slightly mad. Robin Hitchcock I saw. I saw some utter crap.
What was New York like?
There’s bits of it I really like, the sightseeing bits are really good, but fucking hell, the people are miserable some of them. Taxi drivers see you standing on the side of the street with your guitars and they just shake their head. How do you run a business like that? There’s enough people I suppose, people are so rude.
What was your favourite place in America?
I liked LA because the audience was really good and it was just a place that I didn’t fully understand I know I wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time there but I liked the whole experience of being there. I really liked Chicago and Boston as well but probably Chicago was the nicest place just in terms of friendliness, I understood it a bit more it seemed to have a bit more culture and a big music town as well, I thought that place seemed pretty cool.
Are there any bad states?
I get worn down by it, we did quite a lot of flying so it wasn’t that relaxing anyway. I get worn down by being in a different culture. The food is always full of shit, your palette doesn’t have to grow up in America at all, you can eat sweet shit for as long as you like, if you have lamb and mint sauce you don’t expect the mint sauce to be sweet like toothpaste. Everything’s really sweet and really full of fat. You end up eating out a lot, if you ask for a salad you get one in a serving bowl and it’ll have cheese and stuff and be the least healthy salad you’ve ever eaten. I had quail, they brought out three quails. It was lovely but three birds died for my lunch, there was a lot of meat and it was a fiver, which is ridiculous. I have the post war mentality, which my mum gave me, which was eat everything on your plate, waste not want not.
In October last year, Transgressive records announced that you’d hidden a ‘seriously fantastic prize’ somewhere in the UK, we went looking for it but couldn’t find it. You’re not going to tell us anything so the question is, is it still there?
Yes. I think giving anything away ruins it. I know that it is still there. Loads of people have emailed me about it. I’ve got a friend who knows where it is, he/she checks it. If someone took it and didn’t do anything with it or a wild animal stole it then what can you do?
You’re playing Nottingham Rock City here tonight, are you excited?
We’ve done it once before with The Rakes. I’ve played it in a band on a big day of bands when I was about 17 or 16. It’s a good place to headline. It feels a bit weird cause we’re doing a last tour of this album so it feels a little bit like the tail end of all the excitement. At the same time it’s the first time we’ve done all these big venues.
I’ve heard a couple of your new tracks, I especially like that one that goes ‘Turn Tail And Run Away’, Is that going to be your next single?
I don’t know, depends on how it comes out, it’s not really finished as you can probably tell ‘La la la la la la la la la la la la la la la’ lots of that. We can’t really leave that in, there’s a few songs like that, you can’t do it too many times.
Is there a deadline for your album, do you need to rush through it?
I don’t want to, we don’t know who we’re going to have producing it, we’ve got some ideas, we might try something out with Ian Brody but he might be completely wrong. I sort of like the idea of it but I’m also quite frightened because he’s done some things that I’m not a big fan of but he’s done some things that I think are good. Andy Gill did some things that I didn’t like as well. It’s going to be a bit more natural sounding than the last one, a bit less cut up.
I think Ian Brody’s idea is that we’re quite capable of doing it anyway so it should hopefully be a bit more experimental in a way, that’ll probably mean we’ll spend more time on it. Something not too downbeat but we haven’t necessarily got it all written, we’ve got a lot of stuff written but it isn’t all necessarily going to go on.
We’ve got a bit of time in April to do a bit more. Maybe a single for the end of the summer, Reading/Leeds sort of time and then the album probably won’t come out until the New Year. It should be finished this year but they hold it.
Have you got a title for it?
It depends on what songs we put on, the title is a last minute thing for us, people get stuck on them. Bloc Party knew the title of their second album before they’d even written any of it (Henry).
‘A Weekend In The City’ what a crap name for an album. They’re all meaningless anyway. If you’ve got one and you’ve agreed on it you might as well just roll with it rather than thinking about it too much (House). I like thinking about it too much, that’s where the good ones come from, eventually you’ll get one that pops up. If you just come up with one and go ‘Yea, go on then’, it’s boring. You know we’re going to think about it too hard anyway (Henry). I think we should just go for the first thing we think of (House). It’s never going to happen (Henry).
Get someone else to do it.
Get Roger McGough to do it (House). Who’s Poet Laureate at the moment?* Some twat, get him to do it, or her, do they have women poet laureates? Or is there some old rule that says you can’t have them? You never know with this country do you (Henry)?
*Poet Laureate at the moment is Andrew Motion. In case you were wondering.
I’m in two minds whether or not to mention Human Knives, do you think it should have been pink vinyl instead of red vinyl?
I like it red. I haven’t got a copy of it yet, Tim and Toby said they’d send us some. I think it’s good for us, it’s kind of like a curio, that’s associated with the album. I like it, I think it’s good.
What’s your favourite biscuit?
Malted Milk (House). I’m not a big fan, I like those Hovis ones that you have in a cheese box that are a bit like digestives but you’re supposed to have with cheese, I like them. Ritz crackers are good, mini cheddars (Henry).
For more information on The Young Knives, check out their website www.theyoungknives.co.uk or myspace.com/theyoungknives. For the human knives go to myspace.com/humanknives and for Transgressive Records go to www.transgressive records.co.uk or myspace.com/transgressiverecords.