“So Good So Bad” By The Young Playthings
The Young Playthings are what one would term “proper Indie”, and have certainly embraced the DIY ethic with a gusto and a work rate that would shame many a band . They have been Gigging tirelessly up and down the country – yet always have the energy to hurl themselves around stage with reckless abandon and give their all… You can’t really see TYPTs ever becoming a shoe-gaze band thats for sure, their enthusiasm and obvious love for what they do is as infectious as avian flu , but obviously with much more pleasant side effects. Their debut album ” Who Invented Love ? ” released on indie label “Smalltown America” has plenty for fans of jangly guitar pop/punk and has a definate Lemonheads meets Weezer and Green Day in “Arnolds Diner” type vibe. (Which can’t be bad ). Their lyrics manage to be poignant in places whilst conversely chuckle-inducingly smutty in others, yet the manage to “pull it off” (ooo-er) without ever being offensive. The VPME sent roving reporter Elz Bellz along to chat to Bateman about his musical mission and life as a Young Plaything
Elz: Where did the name “The Young Playthings” come from?
Bateman : I used to be really into Italian horror films. In the 70s there was this trend amongst Italian directors – hacks and auteurs alike – of making versions of popular genre movies from Hollywood and being a bit avant garde or schlocky with the style, with the hope/aim of creating something new and exciting. So all the horror films became even more gory or weird, to the point where you have these films like Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox, where they killed real animals and filmed it, or zombies fighting Great White sharks in one of the endless twists on the zombie theme. Anyway, when we formed the band that eventually became The Young Playthings I made a list of all these films with weird titles that I liked and asked everyone else in the band to pick the one they liked the most, and The Young Playthings was the unanimous winner. The Young Playthings was an avant garde soft-porn film, financed by the Italian film industry but made by a Swedish director. The twist is that as the film progresses it becomes unintelligible; so the characters start out speaking English (I think) and end up speaking gibberish. I’ve never seen it – it sounds crap.
E: To you, what is the most important part of being in a band?
Bateman : I don’t know about important, but I most enjoy writing songs and then arranging them as a band. Writing a song in your bedroom then seeing it brought to life as Jors Truely and Tibor add their parts and it becomes a cohesive, finished article is endlessly exciting and I never tire of it.
E: How do you think your sound has developed since you formed? Would you say you put on a better live show now than you did a year ago?
Bateman: This is a hard question to answer! The way we sound has definitely developed since we formed and much of that evolution has come from finishing recording our first album and a sense of ‘okay, we’ve recorded all these songs that were written years ago, now how do we want to move forward?’ One of my favourite records ever is I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One by Yo La Tengo, because it’s like an old friend of mine said, it’s the perfect mix-tape. Every song sounds different and I want to make records like that. I’m really proud of Who Invented Love? and I think it sounds great in terms of performance and production, and I don’t think that every song can be accused of sounding the same, but it isn’t as eclectic as I would like. So we’ve got drum samples on some of the new songs, slowed things down in others, turned down the distortion elsewhere etc. They’re still pop songs but they’re a bit more danceable, a bit sassier. As for playing live, as a three-piece it’s tough because you’re constantly pushed to the limits of your physical capabilities because there are only three of you. In bands with more people individuals can rely on others to support them if they stop, or fuck up, or, conversely, so they can ‘perform’ more because they’ve got the back up. So yeah, I think we are a better live band than we were a year ago because we’ve got better songs now, but I still think there’s more we can do; I’d like to put a bit more ‘performance’ in our live show rather than it just being full-speed ahead through a load of guitar pop songs.
E:You’re releasing ‘Hot Sex With A Girl I Love’ as a digital download only single. What’s your favourite format to buy singles on (and why)?
Bateman :When I was a kid I used to occasionally buy 7 inch singles – I think I must be of the last generation where, as a kid, buying vinyl was still normal, like you went to Woolworths and bought the new KLF or Glenn Madeiros single or whatever (they are two I can remember buying from Woolies as a kid, in the summer in the town where my aunt lived) and not because it was vintage, like ‘oooh, vinyl sounds so much better than digital’, but because they didn’t make cd singles yet. But after that I stopped buying singles because I thought it was a waste of money – why not just buy an album, or tape the song off the radio if you only liked the one song? As a teenager I lived in Hong Kong and, unlike the UK, we didn’t have pop charts; my friends and I had to buy American fanzines to find new music and trade new discoveries with each other. Now, with iTunes and whatnot I’ve started buying singles again. It’s so easy. I’ve always been a bit of a philistine when it comes to technology but I love my iPod. God, I sound like some middle-aged twat writing in the Guardian about how ‘with’ it I am! But seriously, it has honestly revolutionised the way I listen to music so I would have to say that downloads are my favourite format for singles. Haven’t bought an album that way yet though.
E: You’ve supported the Pipettes several times; in fact, you could say they introduced you to a whole new audience. Are there any upcoming bands you’d like to give the same opportunity to?
Bateman : I don’t think we’re at a level yet where we can invite upcoming bands to support us; it’s more about finding like-minded bands who are at a similar level to us so we can put on good shows, not these horrible bills where some faceless promoter puts on three or four bands who can each bring a few friends but who sound totally different to one another and/or have a totally different approach to music. We’re in the far north of Scotland as I write this, heading to Forres and Aberdeen to play a couple of shows with Dan Against The World, who we played with in Aberdeen last year with the Pipettes. They have the same kinds of melodies as a lot of the pop punk bands I love from the mid 90s, with the same innocent-love sentiments, but they do it in a very British way, with clean guitars and keyboard melodies etc. In London a couple of weeks ago we put on a show with Winners and Murdoch who we all really like too.
E: Speaking of the Pipettes, who would win in a fight between you and them? Their new drummer looks pretty hard.
Bateman: If we were fighting the Pipettes we would lose, because we’re gentlemen and we don’t fight girls. Plus, they’ve got high heels and tough attitudes and we don’t wanna fuck with that. If, however, we were fighting the Cassettes we would win, hands down. In fact, I reckon I could beat the Cassettes in a fight by myself they’re such wimps.
E: Since we should try to make this seem like a serious interview, what’s your opinion on the current state of the “indie” music scene as pushed on today’s fourteen-year-olds by the NME?
Bateman: The NME occupies its own special place in the music industry and that’s fine by me. I have no interest in it and it’s never shown any interest in us (though I’m not saying I would say no to their publicity should it ever be offered to us!). Again, this is me showing my age, but when I was a kid I used to buy Smash Hits and, to me, the NME is now to ‘indie’ music what Smash Hits was to straight-up, Stock, Aitken and Waterman 80s chart pop music. In that way, I can understand its appeal to kids, but I guess to some people the co-opting of ‘indie’ by corporate music biznis is anathema and I can also understand that. For me though it goes back to how I grew up listening to music; I was never spoon-fed new music because the infrastructure for it didn’t exist where I lived so I had to go out and find my own. All my attitudes about how to approach playing music stem from there. The one thing I do truly hate about the NME though is its interpretation of what’s sexy; stick-thin, sexless little skeletons, who declare how sexually open-minded they are and yet can’t bear to bare their bodies to people of the same sex. It’s like, when did prudishness become sexy?
E: MySpace: does it live up to the hype?
Bateman: Yes, I actually think it does. It has its imperfections but it’s great way for new bands to broadcast their music for free to, potentially, millions, even billions of people.
E: What’s on the cards for the Young Playthings in the future? Any long-term plans?
Bateman :I’d like to record a second album with all the new stuff we’re writing. Step by step, take each day as it comes. Obviously, we want our renown to spread to each and every land across the globe and be celebrated as mini deities. But I’m not holding my breath…
E: You have five words to end this interview in any way you wish (please don’t disgrace the VPME or yourselves unless you really can’t resist).
Bateman: I only need five letters thanks – PEACE.
(thanks to Elz Russell)
“Love Me Like That” By The Young Playthings
The Young Playthings Wallpapers
Original Album Art By Mark Standbrook