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The Underground Youth interview with Craig Dyer

July 4, 2013

The Underground Youth interview with Craig Dyer

There are a lot of bands that throw the term
DIY around these days but there are some genuine articles out there, albeit few
and far between, Mike Polizze, Ty Segall and Anton Newcombe all instantly
spring to mind.  Unfortunately, before
the advent of the internet, most of these insanely talented one-man bands were
abandoned by the wayside or simply forgotten. 
But thanks to some CD-R’s and the advent of the digital music file
there’s an incredibly well-kept secret waiting for psychedelic connoisseurs,
tucked away in the sleepy gaze of Manchester. 
From humble beginnings as a one-man project alone in his house, Craig
Dyer has built The Underground Youth from the ground up.  Having recently signed with Fuzz Club Records
The Underground Youth are in the process of re-releasing their first five
self-released albums as well as recording new material.  An unstoppable juggernaut that refuses to be
ignored, subtly understated, melancholy and at once uplifting and empowering, The
Underground Youth are proving to be one of the most talented and versatile
bands from the already ridiculously amazing UK psych scene.  I recently got a chance to catch up with
Craig about where the band’s been, where they came from and where he thinks they
are headed recently so kick back with a Bandcamp link
as a wave of soothing reverb drenched minimalist sound lazily drifts
from the windows of a house just outside of the city at 3AM, a single light
shining, warm and inviting.  Sparse and
intricate instrumentation cut through the dark of the night to create a
symphony of darkness, to form The Underground Youth.

Can
you talk a little bit about how the band started as a one-man recording
project?  Where did the initial idea come
from and just how did it begin?  When was
that?
I’d been writing rough amateurish poetry since the age of sixteen or
seventeen.  When I heard Bob Dylan for
the first time I realised that I didn’t need any more than a few guitar chords
to turn these into songs.  In 2008 I
started recording songs in my bedroom with some basic recording equipment; I
guess it’s all grown from that.
You
recruited band members for live performances in preparation for your tour in
2012 after signing with Fuzz Club Records, how did you go about choosing
members or did you already have people in mind? 
I didn’t have anyone in mind from the start, it all just kind of fell
into place.  I met our guitarist Tom
through a mutual friend.  I’ve never felt
more comfortable playing around another guitarist.  Our drummer Olya is my wife, so her entry into
the live band was a little more natural.
Was
the transition to a full band difficult for you or was it kind of a natural
evolutionary process?
It started out easy but then got difficult.  I guess to call it an evolutionary process is
the best way to describe it.  While it
progresses it changes.  As a live band we
will change in time, there’s room for more people and more instruments, it will
never feel complete.  I like that about
it.
What’s
the band’s lineup?
Right now we just use a guitar, a bass and two drums which Olya plays
standing up.  Sometimes we just play with
two guitars.  It’s a stripped back sound,
especially in the psychedelic scene where you can find other bands utilizing
four or five guitarists.
Are
any of you in any other bands?  Have you
released any material with any other bands? 
If so can you tell us about it?
Olya and I recorded an EP under the name Noise Exposure.  It was sort of a side project where she had
more creative input.  Tom is constantly
writing and recording under different names. 
I’m not sure which one he’s using right now.
How
and when did you all meet?
I guess it was 2011 I first met Tom. 
He’s from Liverpool but we met up in Manchester.  We spent an evening drinking wine and
discussing music, we’re very different people but we have a connection that
really works.  As I said before, Olya is
my wife, that’s all you need to know.
Where are you originally from?
I’m from a town in North-West England, Blackpool.  Olya is from Siberia and Tom is from
Liverpool.
Where is the band located now? 
How would you describe the local music scene there?
Manchester.  For me Manchester’s musical
history is better than anywhere but unfortunately, there isn’t much excitement
around any new “scene” right now, at least not for what we’re doing.  I think it is growing but in its’ current
state there isn’t much to write about.
Are
you very involved with the local scene?
No.  We’ve played a small handful
of shows in Manchester for a small handful of people.
Has
it played a large role in the history or evolution of The Underground Youth?
I would say no but it’s hard to have perspective on that from my
position.  It’s been said that The
Underground Youth “sound very Manchester”, which is probably just a way of
saying we’re obviously influenced by Joy Division.
What
does the name The Underground Youth mean or refer to?
One of the early poems I wrote, around the age of eighteen or nineteen,
was called Underground Youth.  There’s
actually a horribly rough recording of it on my first album of songs Morally
Barren.  I just decided to name the
project after that song.
Who
are some of you major influences?  What
about the band as a whole rather than as an individual?

I am hugely inspired by the work of Anton Newcombe and The Brian Jonestown
Massacre but the sounds of other psychedelic groups are obvious in the music as
well.  Olya’s drumming style is lifted
from early Jesus and Mary Chain but she’s also one of the biggest Spacemen 3
fans there is.  My writing is inspired by
Bob Dylan and Nick Cave, and there are flashes of post-punk in there while Tom
brings a garage blues influence to the live show.

Can
you describe The Underground Youth’s sound to our readers that might not have
heard you before?
Something between psychedelic rock and post-punk.  It’s haunting and dark but with flashes of a
melancholic lightness.  A word that often
comes up is cinematic, I’m a huge fan of cinema and my music is hugely
influenced by film. 
Can
you talk about the songwriting process when you were still a one-man band?  How has The Underground Youth’s songwriting
process changed since the addition of the live band?
The songwriting process is, and always has been the same, although a
live band is now representing the music and I take this into account when
recording.  The songs are all my own
creation, for me writing alone is much freer. 
The freedom of writing and recording alone is waking up in the middle of
the night and creating something from nothing. 
The danger is working your way into a corner with no one to bounce ideas
off.  But my process is very much at my
own pace.  With the right inspiration I
can record a whole album in a week or two. 
You
self-released five albums before signing with Fuzz Club records and reissuing
the Delirium 12” and The Low Slow Needle 10”. 
Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of those early albums
as a one man project?  Where were they
recorded?  Did you record the material
yourself?  What kind of equipment was
used?

Everything, including the new album, is recorded at home.  I do everything myself on my own cheap and
simple equipment in my home.  Over the
years I have improved the recording and production of my music, but essentially
the equipment and process I go through is the same.  It’s only recently that I started
entertaining the idea of working with someone else in the recording
process.  There’s a chance the next album
I record will feature someone else in a production role, but I definitely
prefer to have control.
What
were the names of those initial five albums? 
How were those albums originally released?

Morally Barren and Voltage were released in 2009, Mademoiselle and
Sadovaya in 2010 and then Delirium and the Low Slow Needle EP in 2011.  Back then I would just make copies of the
albums on CD myself and send them out to people who got in touch online.  Eventually I uploaded everything online and
made it available for anyone to download. 
Through the following I built up with those albums I was approached by
someone who was “thinking of setting up a record label”.  From there everything happened really fast
for both the band and the label.
You
compiled some of the tracks from those albums into the Delirium and Low Slow
Needle releases, how much of the material from those early releases were
compiled to make those two albums or are they straight reissues of the original
albums?  Are there any plans to release
the rest of that early material in physical or digital formats?
Delirium and Low Slow Needle were released on vinyl exactly as they were
originally recorded.  The idea is to work
our way through the back catalogue and release the early material on vinyl.
You
also recently released a 7” through Fuzz Club Records, Morning Sun.  Are these tracks culled from that pool of
older recordings or were they done for this release more recently?
Morning Sun and the B-side Art House Revisited were songs from the album
I recorded in 2010 titled, Sadovaya.
You
also released a split with a band I’ve been into for a long time at this point,
Little Daggers.  How did you get hooked
up with them?  Where did the track
Juliette come from, was it recorded specifically for that release?
Jacob from Lil Daggers got in touch with me about arranging some shows
together if they were ever to come over to Europe but our conversation ended up
with us making a split 7” together.  I
wanted to record a new track for it, so I wrote and recorded Juliette, which is
also on our new album.
You
have an upcoming album scheduled for release in the next few months.  I know the band was involved with recording
for the first time, was it strange or difficult for anyone going into the
studio this time?
August 2nd.  As I mentioned
earlier the songs are all my creation.  I
had my friend Daria, who lent her vocals to the Low Slow Needle EP, sing again
on this record and Tom recorded guitars on a number of tracks.  There’s also a song that came from a bass
part that Olya created.  I really do work
best on my own, sat at home recording. 
It’s much more effective for me than all the pressures that come with
studio recording.
Can
you tell us a little bit about recording the new album?  What can our readers expect?  Did you try anything radically different with
songwriting or recording on this album? 
Where was it recorded and who recorded it?  What kind of equipment was used?  What’s the name of the album going to be?
The album has a different feel to it for sure.  It’s my most mature work and has a much wider
array of influences.  It’s a really dark
and raw record.  We live in an apartment
overlooking the outskirts of Manchester’s City Centre so I recorded the album
looking out onto this.  I think some of
the atmosphere was soaked up by the recording. 
There are also some of the most fragile tracks I’ve ever recorded.  I think it’s the best of everything I’ve done
rolled into one record.  The album is
called The Perfect Enemy For God.
Other than the upcoming full-length do you have any other releases
planned for this year?
I have a few new songs that I’ve been working on.  I might end up building them into an album or
an EP but it’s too early to say, we’ll see how the new album is received before
deciding on what to do next.  We had the
idea of re-recording some of the older tracks, compiling a best-of and recording
it in a studio with an established producer. 
We’ll just have to wait and see.
With
the insane recent postal increases here in the states where is the best place
for US readers to purchase copies of your music?  What about international and overseas readers?
Fuzz Club Records ship worldwide and I know they try and keep the
shipping costs as low as possible.  We
have records in a number of independent record stores around the world.  I’d suggest people contact Fuzz Club and ask
for more information.
What
do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?
We’ve got a few shows in Europe around the release date of the new
album.  The release party on August 2nd
will be in Berlin.  Following that we
have a tour of Russia, some dates in the UK and another European tour that’s
currently being booked for October/November.
Do
you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows that you’d like to
share with our readers?

Well we have the usual band horror stories of terrible shows, guitars
breaking, drums being knocked over; a monitor once fell on me during a
gig.  I love that rawness of a live show
though, I don’t go and watch a band play live to listen to an exact recreation
of a record I have at home.  I want to
see a raw and passionate representation of the music, snapped guitar strings
and onstage disagreements included.
Where’s the best place for our readers to keep up on the latest news
from The Underground Youth like upcoming album releases and shows at?
The best way is to follow our Facebook page.  I update news on there regularly.  We also have a Twitter account or you can
sign up to a newsletter and find other updates on the Fuzz Club Records
website.
I
must admit to loving my digital albums. 
Having the ability to take music wherever I want is really cool, but I
just can’t shake my obsession with physically released product.  Having an album to hold in your hands, artwork
to look at and liner notes to read all make the listening experience more
complete; at least to me.  Do you have
any such connection to physical releases?
Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. 
Having a digital copy of an album is great for the ease of listening to
it anywhere, but for me you can’t beat listening to an album on vinyl.  For the obvious joys such as soaking up the
artwork and the quality of sound, but I think appreciating a record from start
to finish is so much easier when listening to vinyl.  With no easy way of skipping a track it’s
much easier to appreciate a record as a piece of art.  I understand that this isn’t the most common
approach to buying/listening to music, with that in mind all our records come
with a digital download included.
While digital music might be undermining decades of infrastructure in
the music industry and causing a lot of turmoil it’s also exposing a lot of
bands that I otherwise would never have had the pleasure of discovering.  What’s your opinion on digital music and
distribution as an artist during these turbulent times?

For me the simple fact is that without the option of creating digital
files that could be sent to all corners of the world via the Internet, no one
would have ever heard my music.  I
certainly would never have been approached to create a physical release.  It’s great for musicians and fans alike that
music is so accessible.  I hate most
things about the commercial music industry so I try not to think about it too
much. 
I
try to keep up on as much music from around the world as is humanly possible,
so I ask everyone I talk to this question. 
Who should I be listening to from your local scene or area that I might
not have heard of before? 
As I mentioned earlier Manchester isn’t really the home of a “scene” for
us right now but the European psych scene is exploding with great bands!  If you check out The Reverb Conspiracy
compilation record it’s full of hidden gems. 
My favorite band didn’t get featured on that record though, The Blue
Angel Lounge, I can’t speak highly enough of them.
Is
there anything that I missed or you’d just like to talk about?

I can’t think of anything, thanks. 
Let’s hope we can get over to the States soon to play some shows.
DISCOGRAPHY
(2009) 
The Underground Youth – Morally Barren – digital, CD-R – Self-Released
(2009) 
The Underground Youth – Voltage – digital, CD-R – Self-Released
(2010) 
The Underground Youth – Mademoiselle – digital, CD-R – Self-Released
(2010) 
The Underground Youth – Sadovaya – digital, CD-R – Self-Released
(2011) 
(2012 – Vinyl) The Underground Youth – Delirium – digital, CD-R, 12” – Self-Released,
Fuzz Club Records
(2011) 
(2012 – Vinyl) The Underground Youth – Low Slow Needle EP – digital,
CD-R, 10” – Self-Released, Fuzz Club Records (Limited to 300 copies)
(2013) 
The Underground Youth – The Perfect Enemy For God – digital, 12” – Fuzz
Club Records
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
© Copyright
http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2013
2 Comments
  1. DanieJean

    Great interview! I would like to use this information on my blog post featuring The Underground Youth. Would that be Ok?

  2. Uncle Jerk

    What information specifically? I'm probably cool with it provided you give credit to both myself (the author) and Psychedelic Baby as well as a link back here to ITP. Sorry for the late response difficult to keep up with comments on these articles...

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