May 26, 2012

Live From New York, It's The Young Things

The Bowery isn’t the mecca for rock ‘n’ roll mayhem anymore, but the rambunctious, punk-spiked spirit of its ‘70s heyday is alive and kicking in the music of The Young Things.

The band is currently recording a full-length effort slated for release later this year. In the meantime, they can most often be found on a stage in some local dive playing songs from their 2009 EP, …Is The Killer, a six-song/15-minute soundtrack to the sort of debaucherous, barely legal good times that can still be had in the city that never sleeps.

“New York City is absolutely fundamental to this band,” says lead guitarist Josh Hammer of the stomping grounds that he, along with vocalist/rhythm guitarist Mike Fleizach, bassist Neil Kumar, and drummer Jon LaPrade, calls home. “The kind of vibe and the energy is something that we could not experience anywhere else.”

And, to hear Hammer explain it, the band’s music is rooted more in truth than fiction.

“Maybe we’ll have practice at 8:00, but [then] we’ll go out, we’ll get some drinks, and hang out with the people we know around the neighborhood, maybe make some new friends,” he says. “It’s a 24-hour lifestyle.”

Behind all the spunk and cocksure swagger, though, are four musicians with some serious chops and a steadfast dedication to their craft—particularly when it comes to songwriting.

“The way it works now is that Mike will write the song,” explains Hammer. “He’ll bring an idea to practice, and he’ll think of it in one direction and say, ‘I was thinking we could take it like this.’ And then all of a sudden me and Neil or Jon and Neil will come up and say, ‘No, we’re going to take it this way. We’re going to cut the speed in half, syncopate the drums and the bass, and totally take it into a different direction.’”

It’s a process that seems ripe for tension, but, Hammer insists, any such moments arise only with the best interest of the music in mind.

“We’ve always committed from the get-go of this band that if somebody wants to take something down the avenue for a walk, we’ll take it down for a walk,” he says. “We’ll spare an hour. There’s no point in saying no. And none of us have gigantic egos—as of yet, at least—that [he’s] going to put their foot down and say, ‘No, this is just the way it’s gonna be.’ Everybody is really good about it, [saying], ‘Let’s give it a go. Let’s try it out. Let’s see how it works. Try it this way. Try it this way.’ And we all know when we got it right.”

Other than a handful of out-of-town performances in recent months—most notably, The Young Things played at this year’s SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas—the band has for the most part kept busy with local gigs while trudging ahead in the recording studio.

No matter where they end up in the future, though, they’ll always have home.

“It’s definitely got its drawbacks,” Hammer concedes. “It’s expensive as fuck, and it’s difficult to get around; everything takes a long time. But in terms of making music and meeting people that you want to meet and shake hands with people that you want to that you idolize, there’s no place like it.”