The Young Knives

Tom Senier 03/11/2006

Formed in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, The Young Knives have just completed a UK tour following the release of their debut album “Voices of Animals and Men” in August. Known for their charity shop chic, inventive videos, and typically English sense of humour, the Young Knives released their new single “The Decision” on October 30th. GIITTV caught up with them in Birmingham(on the 26th of October), the day after their brilliant performance at the BBC Electric Proms, all of them look noticeably worse for wear.

What can we expect from the show tonight? Any new songs or covers?

We haven't worked out the exact set list yet but on this tour we've been doing a few new songs which are the b-sides to The Decision, which is out on the 30th, plus we've been doing a few songs off the album that we haven't played live before… We did Kids in America last night as well, and that was good fun.

You are often compared to bands like XTC and Gang of Four, and Andy Gill even helped to produce your album. Were bands like these big influences on you?

Gang of Four were a big influence on us, but not so much XTC. XTC were one of those bands that people say “oh, you sound like them”, and then we go “what do XTC sound like?” and then we go and buy the album. I bought an XTC album but didn't like it and took it back. Does that mean I don't like us? Yeah, I think we're rubbish!

So which were the bands that got you into music as kids and made you want to start a band?

Same as anybody really- you start out listening to music as a kid, things like pop and Michael Jackson. Just things like that really, and then you start getting into Hendrix and stuff and they make you want to learn guitar. Then when things like Radiohead and Supergrass started coming out, we were pretty impressed with that… Pixies, Frank Black, Bluuuuuuuur. I mean one of the reasons we moved to Oxford was because of Supergrass. We just thought it would be a cool place to go, with a cool music scene.

So how long have you been playing together, and did you ever consider packing it all in?

Well we started playing together when we were at school, but we moved in together in late'99. We never considered stopping the band as we never made music because we wanted to be famous, we did it as a hobby. I mean we tried, but I think every band you see down the pub are thinking “wouldn't it be nice…”. The first time we got a record deal was from this tiny independent thing in Oxford. They were like “yeah, we'll give you a record deal… we won't give you any advances though”. We thought we'd 'made it' when that happened.

How's your relationship with your current record label, Transgressive?

They pretty much give us free reign, although they do have their opinions sometimes. Yesterday we had a meeting about what the next single is going to be…

What's it going to be then?

Well…I don't know if we're allowed to say, but I think it's going to be "Another Hollow Line." But whether Radio 1 will actually play it is anyone's guess… actually I think Radio 1 have already said that they won't play it. But that's what's great about Transgressive- they'll let us release a single that we already know won't do very well!

What's the best thing about being in The Young Knives?

It's just great! Just the sitting about for hours and hours in rooms like this, before gigs. Going “what, when will I see sunlight again?” But yeah, this tour is our first tour bus experience so it's quite a laugh. Since we were 15 we've just wanted to be in a band and do it full time, and do it properly, and now we are! On the first day of our tour we drove past the place where I used to work and that was quite good!

Do you listen to a lot of new music, and do you have any favourite new bands?

We don't listen to loads- we don't have the time. But we all love the Rumble Strips, they're brilliant… and a band called Cold War Kids from the States, they're very good as well. And I like Jonquil alot, on Try Harder Records.

Do you see The Young Knives as part of any 'scene', or do you try and distance yourselves from anything like that?

We are our own scene! We do try and distance ourselves from it a bit. I mean there are certain bands, and it's like [points to NME on the floor] “they're new rave”, which is a shame for those bands as I'm sure they didn't start off by thinking “let's be a new rave band!”… But we've definitely managed to avoid a lot of those groups. We're definitely not “emo” or “hardcore” or “screamo”. We've probably been lumped in with the kind of “british indie music scene” and that whole NME thing. But we're never going to be on the cover of the NME or anything like that… well we might be, but it won't be because they are championing us, it will be because we've already 'made it'. Apparently, we were part of the “London Calling” scene a few months back, even though we aren't from London, and we definitely aren't calling anyone.

So what's next after the tour finishes?

I don't know if it ever will finish! Well, we're going to Europe after the tour finishes here. I think the album's just been released in Germany, so it will be interesting to go there with the album already out rather than what we did here, where we toured before the album came out. I mean this time around we actually left it like a month before we did the tour, just so everyone could listen to it a bit and learn the words. It's been nice having a little sing-along to the album tracks that haven't been released before.

Thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions