Interview – The Underground Youth

In their latest album ‘The Falling’ released last week, The Underground Youth have produced a collection of songs filled with depth and emotion. We caught up with Craig Dyer to ask what keeps the band moving in new directions musically, their ongoing partnership with Fuzz Club Records and life in Berlin… 

Hello, how are you all keeping – have you been able to see each other during the various stages of lockdown?

Yes, we’re well thank you. Keeping productive and staying positive etc. And yes we all keep in contact, we remain in each other’s ‘COVID bubble’, as they say.

Take us back to the early days, what was the catalyst that kick started The Underground Youth?

2008, I was writing some basic and fairly derivative poetry and trying to work the poems into songs using the few guitar chords I knew and the modest skills I’d taught myself in recording. It all developed from there, slowly and steadily, until we reached where we’re at today.

And how do you sustain that feeling that keeps you together and wanting to make new music?

I think that feeling has to come pretty naturally, you couldn’t force it, you know? But for me personally and for us as a band, we’ve never been happier than doing what we do, well, when we can eventually tour and actually do what we do again!

The songs on your new album The Falling manage to sound both dark and soft at the same time – what’s been the driving factor behind the record?

Lyrically, it’s an introspective record, from a personal place, I think there’s a darkness and a softness to writing in such a way. I think the driving factor was to explore this slightly different sound we’ve adopted on this record, string arrangements, more acoustic instrumentation. It’s fulfilling to work on a record in a different way.

Tell us the story behind one of the tracks.

Ok, Letter From A Young Lover is the final track on the album. Now it’s rare I sit at a piano to write a song but this one came out in that way. Lyrically the idea is quite light, the idea of having a written correspondence with a young version of myself, naive and yet to understand or appreciate love, it’s not so serious. The music is the complete opposite however, dark and dramatic, the clash of mood and context seems to make the song even more powerful.

You’re based in Berlin now, the instigator of much influential music over the years – does the environment or the music scene there impact on your writing?

I do find myself answering this question a lot and whilst of course the surroundings of where an artist lives do influence and inspire the art, that is true of anywhere you would decide to live and work. It seems more relevant to people when the city has a history or has been deemed influential on music in the past, we were always asked the same question about Manchester when we lived there. But the truth is I’d be just as inspired living in any other city and I can’t say in what way that would differ.

I loved Berlin when I was there but haven’t had a chance to go back in years, where would you recommend when things open up again – where are your favourite places to be?

Well the main hope is that everywhere can reopen once this is over, there’s a huge concern in the case of many bars and venues that the financial strain may prove too much for them to survive. But to be optimistic and put that thought aside, we’ll be looking forward to once again frequent our local bars, 8MM, Tomsky, I really miss being able to get a pint of Guinness. Museums, galleries, seeing small shows in cafes. There’s too many venues to mention, I think once live shows become a reality again there will be a huge surge in attendances, it’s going to be an interesting time.

What have you been listening to and watching through quarantine?

I guess I’ve been through different periods since the beginning, listening to a lot of old music, getting very nostalgic, music from my youth, a lot of hip hop, early punk, I also went through a period of buying a lot of jazz records. Watching a lot of movies, I don’t tend to indulge in many TV series but when I do I get really sucked in. I recently watched Adam Curtis’ new series. I’m a huge fan of his work.

The album is out on Fuzz Club Records – they’ve been putting out a great mix of artists, how did you get involved with them?

It was back in 2011, Casper (Fuzz Club) got in touch with me to ask if we had any of our albums available on vinyl. Now at the time I was just releasing the music for free online, so I told him no. He said he was thinking about starting up a record label and would love for our album Delirium to be the first record they put out. So we did it, he flew over to Manchester from Norway and we signed a contract and we’ve been releasing music and have been great friends ever since.

And where do we go from here – do you have hopes and plans for the coming year?

I think our biggest hope at this point is for live music to return. We have a European tour booked for later in the year and with any hope we’ll actually be able to do it.

The Falling is out now on Fuzz Club Records – you can purchase the album here or from your local independent.

Interview by Siobhan
Photos by Miriam Marlene Waldner (header) and Laura Cherry Grove

16th March 2021