Disorder Magazine: Years &Years

A sea of wires on the floor of a dusty rehearsal studio, the band Years and Years are belting out their song Emergency. This love song bizarrely became a soundtrack to a rally call in The Independent newspaper against government cuts. Jameela Oberman follows up on an inkling that more is on its way from this eccentric group of friends.

The lead singer of the band Years and Years, Olly, looks like a cute mix of Solomon from Gummo and Napoleon Dynamite; he is standing in front of the microphone dressed in nicotine-coloured plimsolls, skinnies, an oversized retro top and geeky specs. The band pauses to talk over the song and Olly twists the dial on the Moog synthesizer releasing a distorted noise and laughs, ‘It sounds like screaming ghosts.’

The song is interrupted again when Olly blows into a Melodica; then he switches back to hollering into the mic, his cries alternate between stinging contemplation and tortured euphoria. It’s as if Nina Simone is crooning a melodic lullaby to the folktronic lovechild of Beach House and Terry Riley. The overall mood created is of sentimental post-pop melodies documenting the highs and lows of wrestling with inner flaws and complex relationships.

The five-piece group, who’ve been together for a mere eight months, are rehearsing in Fortress Studios, North London. Their room, the size of a postage stamp, is packed with Moog synthesizers, vocal performer pedals, Macs, iPads, drums, Gretsch guitars and speakers; the sound they make together in this small space they rent out weekly is a kind of DIY epic and charged with a free atmosphere.

After the rehearsal the band are reticent about the inspiration behind the tunes, insisting they are not political but personal, for the listener to apply to their own feelings. Olly’s face lights up as he remarks, “For me, I simply grew up always wanting to be an RnB singer, listening to Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone; and I also really like Jeff Buckley.“I remember one girl at a gig in Ginglik tried to psychoanalyse me.” Rolling a cigarette, he adds, “She said, I can tell you’re in a lot of pain.”

The whole band is fascinated with anything possessing a melodramatic streak: music from Radiohead, the TV series Twin Peaks, even the haunting film scores of Clint Mansell – and this culmination of interests leaning towards the transcendental is evident in the dynamics of their music-making.

Guitarist Emre grins when explaining their song-writing method, “Someone will come in with a concept or an idea and then we basically bash the living sh*t out of it until we have something great. We like to experiment by combining warm acoustics with cold electronics.”

(Band: left to right – Noel, Emre, Mickey, Oliver, Olly)

This soulful indie-electro sound caught the ear of The Independent columnist, Johann Hari, who picked their tunes to feature as intro and sign-out songs for his podcasts. ‘Emergency’ and ‘I Wish I Knew’ was placed on Hari’s podcast about the government’s public spending cuts at the time of the recent protests.

Their tunes get a regular spot as theme songs for issues such as the slamming of David Cameron’s policies to the condemnation of Goldman Sachs. Emre raises his eyebrows when mentioning some unwanted attention from the publicity, “I’m now being followed on Twitter by Goldman Sachs.Creepy.”

It’s a fitting, if contentious, start to their music career since the band came into existence via a chance meeting between two of the members, Noel and Mickey, at a protest against the building of Terminal Five at Heathrow airport. Noel’s a Salvador Dali lookalike with an extraordinary tashe (he’s recently modelled for a vintage moustache calendar). He looks into space and recalls, “We went to the pub for the night and he didn’t once mention my unusual moustache and I thought, he’s passed the test.”

The rest of the group, Emre and Oliver, emerged from the website formingbands.co.uk, except Olly who was the housemate of a friend. Guitarist Mickey jokes about the encounter, “I was round a friend’s house where Olly was renting a room, heard him singing in the shower and thought, ‘Yeah, he’s got a good voice.”

Regular band practice at the studios commenced, with Mickey on guitars and Noel syncing audio loops using Ableton Live with Midi Controller, and occasionally playing the mandolin. Emre joined on guitar and Oliver on drums, all splitting the cost of studio hire and the rest is history, these days they’re putting the finishing touches to their debut E.P.

Celebrity fan, Radio 1’s Lauren Laverne, is eagerly waiting to spin it once it’s finished. It’s a promising start to this circle of friends, who look rather uncommercial and peculiar together, a refreshing change from the usual music scene influx of squeaky, indie band clones.

• Next gig Camden Barfly June 3rd

• Band Websites: http://yearsandyearsband.blogspot.com/, http://www.myspace.com/yearsandyearsband

• Words: Jameela Oberman

• Pics: Tristan Galindo, Mike Woodruff & Rob Costanzo

• Video: Ludgero Filipe

Article originally published in Disorder Magazine, http://disordermagazine.com/years-years/music/

One Response to “Disorder Magazine: Years &Years”
  1. Serenity says:

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