The Underground Youth interview with Craig Dyer
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
the transition to a full band difficult for you or was it kind of a natural
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
the band’s lineup?
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.
any of you in any other bands? Have you
released any material with any other bands?
If so can you tell us about it?
more creative input. Tom is constantly
writing and recording under different names.
I’m not sure which one he’s using right now.
and when did you all meet?
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.
How would you describe the local music scene there?
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.
you very involved with the local scene?
of shows in Manchester for a small handful of people.
it played a large role in the history or evolution of The Underground Youth?
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.
does the name The Underground Youth mean or refer to?
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.
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.
you describe The Underground Youth’s sound to our readers that might not have
heard you before?
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
were the names of those initial five albums?
How were those albums originally released?
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.
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?
originally recorded. The idea is to work
our way through the back catalogue and release the early material on vinyl.
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?
I recorded in 2010 titled, Sadovaya.
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?
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.
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?
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
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?
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.
planned for this year?
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.
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?
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.
do you have planned as far as touring goes for the rest of the year?
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.
you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows that you’d like to
share with our readers?
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.
from The Underground Youth like upcoming album releases and shows at?
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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?
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.
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?
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
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?
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.
there anything that I missed or you’d just like to talk about?
Let’s hope we can get over to the States soon to play some shows.
The Underground Youth – Morally Barren – digital, CD-R – Self-Released
The Underground Youth – Voltage – digital, CD-R – Self-Released
The Underground Youth – Mademoiselle – digital, CD-R – Self-Released
The Underground Youth – Sadovaya – digital, CD-R – Self-Released
(2012 – Vinyl) The Underground Youth – Delirium – digital, CD-R, 12” – Self-Released,
Fuzz Club Records
(2012 – Vinyl) The Underground Youth – Low Slow Needle EP – digital,
CD-R, 10” – Self-Released, Fuzz Club Records (Limited to 300 copies)
The Underground Youth – The Perfect Enemy For God – digital, 12” – Fuzz