Taking Flight

30 May 2012 | 8:45 am | Brendan Crabb

American sportspeople talk about the sophomore slump, while university students call it the second year blues. Vocalist Gustav Wood explains to Brendan Crabb why British rockers Young Guns were determined to avoid such dramas following up their hit debut.

Following the success of debut EP, Mirrors, in 2009 and first album, All Our Kings Are Dead, the following year, UK rockers Young Guns rapidly became critical darlings in their homeland, featuring on the cover of numerous high-profile publications. Significant festival appearances (Download, Reading, Leeds) and major supports (Bon Jovi, Lostprophets, Yellowcard) quickly fell their way. Then it came time for the contentious second album. As it turns out, however, the bulk of the expectation placed on them to deliver the goods via new record, Bones, was self-inflicted rather than stemming from antsy record execs calling for a radio single or dedicated fans analysing every minute detail online.

“Well the cliché of the second album is definitely true. I'd say we had like all our lives to write our first record and about two months to write the second one,” frontman Gustav Wood laughs. “So there was an awful lot of late nights and a lot of pressure, but we're very hard on ourselves, very critical and rarely happy with what we're doing. We're so used to kicking our own arse that we kind of always operate under an almost constant state of pressure. We're always trying to be better and I think that's a good thing. But it did mean that the second album was quite painful in a lot of ways. I think we knew that we wanted it to be better, but that was kind of all we knew. It took us a little while to focus in and lock down exactly how we wanted the record to sound, what we wanted to do with it and all that kind of stuff.

“So the cliché is definitely true, and it did hurt, but the record that we've come out with is something that I'm really happy with and I think that a little bit of pain in the recording process is natural, necessary even. I would be worried if the recording process was pain-free and easy – I would almost feel like it was a little bit slack in some ways. It should be a struggle, because it's something important.”

Bones was recorded at Karma Sound Studios in Thailand with producer and SikTh guitarist Dan Weller, who offered a key connection to their recorded past.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

“We had a good relationship with him already and we've done pretty much all of our recorded output to date with him,” Wood explains. “So there was an easy dynamic; he understands us, he knows how to get the best out of us, he knows when to babysit and when to crack the whip. With an album as important as this we really wanted that level of honesty and that existing relationship to be there, so we were happy to go with him really. One of the reasons we wanted go to Thailand was so we could remove ourselves from everything else that we were familiar with; from family, relationships, friends and just the environment. We wanted to go somewhere new so we could I suppose push ourselves to be a better, newer band. Having that one bit of history, having Dan aboard, was essential to that.

“I think the first record is a good album. We were happy with it, (but) it's definitely a first album. It's the sound of us just chucking everything in and seeing what comes out. I think this new record, we were a little more focused with what we wanted to achieve. It's just the sound of a band that is trying to spread their wings and write music that can appeal to everyone.”