“When I first started writing music as well, the first management company I signed to wanted me to be a pop star. They wanted me to be squeaky clean and like, get my hair done before going on camera but that wasn’t me. I was forever being held back from being myself. That’s why the Yungblud message is so strong: just be yourself.”
What were some of your earliest memories of music? How did these memories impact your musical journey and taste?
I grew up on the Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Rolling Stones, Spice Girls, The Beatles – all genuinely national acts, but have the British integrity that stayed with them. My message connects to people across the world because young people are thinking about the same thing. I’m connecting with these people because we are all facing the same issues. However, I have an attitude and the way I speak is of a northern British teenager. I have such faith in our generation.
I remember seeing the Arctic Monkeys at Chester Hill and it’s quite funny because now I’m playing at the same venue. For me to be a kid in that crowd to stand on that stage is incredible. That’s what it’s about. It’s about passing down the bat. My heart’s in it and to be able to play there is insanity.
When you first started to record music what was the biggest struggle you faced getting into the industry?
I was very misunderstood as a kid because people didn’t understand my energy. They didn’t know where to put me and when someone doesn’t know where to put you, you remain in this place like no man’s land. I moved out of the city when I was 16. I didn’t want to play by anybody’s rules and I wanted to do something different. I disagreed with ideologies that have been written for hundreds of years and they didn’t like that.
What do you hope reflects through your music?
I don’t want to divide people. The difference between my generation and the generation of the Sex Pistols is that the current generation is one of unity and genuine intelligence. Of course Johnny Rotten was a genius, but our generation is different. We are a lot more revolved around love and trying to abolish hate rather than fighting hate with violence or depression. We believe in love and peace and equality. We have just as much right as anybody else on this planet. Authenticity is what’s coming next. Just look at someone like Billie Eilish, she’s authentically herself.
Do you have any plans for collaborating with Billie in the future?
Billie and I are pals and we’re on the same label, so if the opportunity came around I think we could make something really amazing. She’s having a real moment right now. She is genuinely making a difference to young people and I respect that.
You’ve gone from playing small venues like the Rivoli in Toronto to selling out a tour in the States. Has your stage presence and energy on tour always come naturally to you?
I’ve always been a bit of a show-off. I’ve always liked it. It’s important to me to put on a show and put on a performance and make people go, wow. I grew up watching people like Mick Jagger, Freddie Mercury, Madonna, even Britney. I’d watch them command the stage in front of 60,000 to 70,000 people.
Your single with Halsey and Travis Barker, ’11 Minutes,’ paints a vivid picture and sends a strong message. What was the reasoning behind the title?
We used ’11 Minutes’ because it’s specific, you can picture the number. I’m a very specific person – If I tell you I’m 13 minutes away, that means I’m 13 minutes away. I want you to gather a visualization. If you say you’re 10 minutes away, you could be half an hour away, if you say 17 minutes or 11 minutes you’re not lying to me. Being specific represents honesty and the amount of work in the relationship between the two characters in the story. It tells the story of two young people who are living in this modern tragedy where power and success seem to be superior to thought and emotion. The character’s date in high school then break up and then realize they want to get back together. They arrange to meet up a couple of years later, and she says “I’m 11 minutes away, I can’t wait to see you and kiss your face like I’ve been thinking about every day since you left.”
She’s 11 minutes away, then gets into a car accident. We’re the generation that doesn’t think about now, we think about what’s next. When we’re looking ahead, we forget to see what’s in front of us.
Your brilliantly titled album 21st Century Liability has a Rock and Roll edge while also maintaining a modern feel. Was there a favourite track on the album or a particular theme you feel connected to?
Everything. Every single song I write comes from a place in my heart and what I care about. I can list them. ‘Die For The Hype’ is about me conforming. All my life it’s like, “that kid’s wearing blue jeans and it’s cool,” it’s something you do every day. But I don’t like blue jeans, but I want to wear blue jeans, but fuck that I don’t want to be part of the hype, I don’t need to be. ‘Doctor Doctor’ is about me looking at politicians in the world and going, “if you’re supposed to be so smart, then I want to be stupid because I don’t agree with your ideologies,” you know what I mean? ‘Medication’ is about them trying to suppress me with drugs when I was younger. I grew up in a heavily medicated society where we’re taught to distract ourselves instead of facing our problems.
What do you think of current events affecting the political climate in the UK right now?
Music wise, politics-wise, everything’s becoming a lot smaller and everything is becoming a lot more to the point. Everything has become so much more global. Our generation cares about what’s going on for the sake of the world, not just a particular country. I’m proud to be British and I want people to know where I’m from. I think some British acts put on a different accent to be safe and to be played on the radio but I’m from Donchester in the UK, and I never want to lose that.
Follow Yungblud on Instagram @yungblud