Young Guns On Losing Their Drummer & Playing Odd Gigs With Bon Jovi
Losing a band member is never easy. Lead vocalist Gustav Wood told MTV how Young Guns dealt with the issue.
UK rockers Young Guns had been going from strength to strength. They received a nomination for ‘Best Newcomer Award’ from Kerrang magazine, the band’s debut All Our Kings Are Dead was well received and Zane Lowe named the band’s single ‘Winter Kiss’ as one his ‘Hottest Records in the World’ back when he was still on Radio 1. Not bad for four hard-working guys from High Wycombe/London.
They even supported Bon Jovi at London’s 21,000 capacity O2 arena. What was it like opening for that gig? Did Jon Bon Jovi say anything to them? “Oh god no. F*ck no,” lead vocalist Gus Wood tells MTV in good humour. “No, not at all.”
“It was a bit of a strange one. This one was right at the beginning of our career as a band, and I think [we won] a competition where you could submit your music and they'd listen to it."
“We didn't meet them. We did watch a little bit of their sound check before they kicked us out…because apparently having 3 or 4 people in an arena is just too much.”
“But it was a cool experience. [At the time] we were playing our own shows in little bars and clubs to one or two hundred people each night. And then we were standing on that stage in front of 21,000 people, and that was... jaw dropping. At that early point in our career, it was a pretty f*cking scary.”
“It was an amazing thing to have done. Because I kind of feel, looking back on it, when you've been that f*cking scared, and that nervous, you can't be more nervous than I was for that. It kind of broke the seal, and everything after that was a little bit easier.”
But then Young Guns hit a difficult period. After a challenging experience making 2012’s Bones “for around three years instead of one,” lead vocalist Gus Wood told MTV that Young Guns then saw their next album, Ones and Zeros, being delayed by six months.
“It really did erode our enthusiasm and our spirit to get out there and push it and work hard and be proud of it.”
“By the time the album came out, we'd had some of those songs for around two and a half years. And that was difficult for us, plus the touring [at the time] was a little hard.”
Then their drummer Ben Jolliffe started a relationship with someone in America, “and that had become more and more of the focus.” Young Guns are close friends, but it was a problem for the band. “So we sat down, and said 'look, can we do this again? Can we do another round as is?' because there's a lot of dissatisfaction and a lot of things aren't being spoken about.”
“We are mates. We had an honest conversation with each other. One of the outcomes of that was that we all agreed, collectively, that our drummer should part ways, that he should go to America and try to pursue a relationship with this girl. Which he did.”
“It was a very mature, adult conversation, which is not always common, and it was a positive thing. It sounds really dramatic, but it was actually really good. It's helped. We found that we were inspired and excited again. After six years of being in a band, it was nice for it to feel new. So that allowed us to kick on.”
And kick on they did. Young Guns have gone on to release Echoes (produced by David Bendeth, who's worked with Paramore, All time Low and more) in September 2016, were recently on the legendary Vans Warped Tour, are currently supporting Billy Talent across Europe and will cap off 2016 with a gig in Taiwan. It looks like that difficult patch is well and truly behind them.
But how do you replace such an integral part of a band – especially when the band is made up of close friends? Is there a Takeshi’s Castle-style vetting process to find the perfect replacement?
“That's exactly what it is. It's like a gladiatorial fight to death. If anyone's got their limbs left - they're in.”
Young Guns’ new album Echoes is out now.