So excited to be here half way through the week. We have hooked up today with UK folk trio The Young’uns. They are busy promoting the album – ‘Strangers’ and begin their U.S. tour at the Philadelphia Folk Festival, August 16-18 followed by a week of shows in the northeast. They will play Passim in Cambridge, MA on Wednesday, August 21. We are so excited that they will be coming to New England, USA so we had them on to catch up on everything from summer 2019, how they got their name, Brexit, and so much more!
@skopemag – How is your summer so far and have you played or attended any cool gigs / festivals?
We’re having a great summer, thanks. On August 2nd, we played at the Dranouter Festival in Belgium for the first time. We realised on the way there that the subject of one of our songs is buried 3 miles from the festival. John Hill married my teenage great grandmother in 1913. Within a year, he was killed in the Great War and buried in Bailleul in Flanders. The story of my great grandmother’s first marriage had been forgotten in our family. She remarried and had 10 children with my great grandad. Discovering the story of John Hill 5 years ago was a really emotional thing. I realised that if he hadn’t died in 1914, I would not have been born so I wrote a song about him. On the way to the festival, we visited his grave for the very first time. A few hours later, we sang the song at the festival. It was a very special moment.
@skopemag: Being that your music is known as ‘socially-conscious’ – do you feel like Brexit will come to reality and is that good or bad for the people of the UK?
It’s the question on everyone’s lips. It’s the issue that’s dividing families across our country. It’s the thing that’s destroying friendships. It feels like a line was drawn in the sand three years ago, and you’re either on one side or the other. As more time goes on the line gets deeper, the tension mounts and the fear and uncertainty rises. People on both sides will tell you, for different reasons, that the situation at the moment is already bad for the UK. I think it will come to reality, but no one’s quite sure what that reality is anymore.
@skopemag: I must ask where did you get the name – The Young’uns – and how does that tie in with your niche – folk sound?
The name was given to us. We get more embarrassed by it with every passing year. When we first heard folk songs, we were 17 years old. It was an accidental discovery. We were in a pub in our home town (Stockton On Tees in the North East of England), and we heard music coming from the back room. We went in and found a room full of people singing. Most of them didn’t have instruments. They just sang. They sang in Northern English accents. They sang about places we knew. They sang about where they came from. We’d heard nothing like it before. It was wonderful. It was a folk club, and we went back week after week to this folk club. Because everyone else who attended was considerably older than us, they affectionately called us the Young’uns. Because we never had the intention of becoming a proper band, performing concerts and touring the world, we never bothered to find a better name for ourselves. So when we were offered our first gig, two years after that chance discovery, we were asked what we were going to be known as. ‘Everyone calls us the Young’uns’ we said, ‘so we’ll call ourselves that.’
@skopemag: You have been real busy of late with music videos from ‘Strangers’ – and now a US tour. How is all this hard work playing out with fans and was this all pre-planned?
Our fans in the U.K were delighted to hear that we’re coming to the U.S for the first time. I think they’ve had enough of us! We’re very lucky to have so many followers who have supported us over many years. Many of them have been with us from the beginning when we were drunken teenagers. We’ve had offers to come to the U.S for several years, but never quite managed to make it work until now so we’re very excited. There’s a particular song I’m looking forward to singing in the U.S.—”Carriage 12.” It’s a song we wrote about the 15:17 train to Paris in August 2015 when 3 Californian school friends, with the help of other passengers, tackled a gunman and foiled a terror attack. This recording, made at Calgary Festival 2016, somehow got to the American Embassy in Paris who put us in touch with the American born French resident Mark Moogalian who was the first to tackle the terrorist that day. He was very nearly killed after being shot through the neck. We travelled to Paris to meet him and made this film
@skopemag: When you step on stage and you see people in the crowd who have not heard your music before how does that inspire you?
It has always provided us with the biggest buzz. We often sing songs spontaneously in pubs (you can do it without warning when you don’t have instruments!) to see what people’s reaction will be. It all comes back to the fact that we discovered folk songs by accident, and we want other people to do the same. We had no idea what they were. When we heard them, it changed our lives. Knowing that there are people in an audience who have never heard three men singing without instruments in three part harmony before is a wonderful feeling. It’s why we get so much joy out of the work we do in schools. The children often have no idea what’s going to happen. The looks on their faces when we start singing is priceless. It’s not always positive! Some laugh, some stare. But as the song goes on we often win them over.
@skopemag: I really like the video for ‘Be the Man’ but can you tell the story behind it for those who do not know about LGBTQ activist Matthew Ogston, whose fiancé Naz took his own life?
Thank you. Matt Ogston lost his partner of 13 years, Naz Mahmood, in July 2014. Naz’s suicide was brought about by his religious family’s reluctance to accept his sexuality. I read the heart-breaking story in an incredibly frank interview Matt did for The Guardian in 2015. After losing Naz, Matt soon determined that he would turn his suffering into something positive. He set up the Naz and Matt Foundation (https://www.nazandmattfoundation.org/) whose mission is to never let any religion come in between the unconditional love between a parent and child. He travels the U.K telling his story. It’s hard for him to tell it. It’s sometimes difficult for people to listen to. But it makes a difference. Matt’s work has saved people’s lives. Singing the song “Be the Man” (with Matt’s full support) is a real honour. We have received messages from around the world from people who have been helped, inspired or moved by the story. To be able to share all of these messages with Matt is wonderful.
@skopemag: Besides music, what else do you enjoy and do you have work / family / school as well?
We’ve been a full time band for six years now. Our schedule doesn’t just involve touring. We have visited over 100 schools in the U.K in the last few years – teaching songs, telling stories and conducting workshops. We also run residential singing weekends in the U.K in beautiful rural locations. We host 40 people on each of these weekends – teach songs, perform intimate concerts, go on singing walks and have lots of fun.
@skopemag: In this non-stop 24/7 world, what should the global audience of @skopemag take with them and where can we like + follow – The Young’uns?
For us, folk songs have always been about sharing. Sharing the joy we get from standing together and singing in 3-part harmony. Sharing the incredible stories that have inspired our songs.
Find out more at theyounguns.co.uk – @theyoungunstrio and on Facebook