Monday 13 February 2017

***YOUTH FUNERAL exclusive interview***

Last month Casey from YOUTH FUNERAL agreed to answer a few of my questions. I had already reviewed the band, but goddamn that new 'Heavenward' LP is fantastic. You can pick it below from Dog Knights and Skeletal Lightning before it's sold out! For fans of: Loma Prieta,  and Crowning.

YOUTH FUNERAL 'Heavenward'
Buy from Dog Knights
Buy from Skeletal Lightning

YOUTH FUNERAL has an upcoming show with The Hotelier in New Hampshire on March 24th, 2017:

1) Casey, please give us some vital information that we should know about you.
I’m not sure what I should consider vital. In this context, I’ll say my name is Casey Nealon and I play guitar and sing in Youth Funeral.

2) What path led you to your current tastes in music, and please touch on your route to screamo and Youth Funeral?
I’ve often felt drawn to the other in my life. I don’t think there was an exception with music. Lately I’ve been enjoying what my friends have been making with Savage Blind God, Krimewatch, Slow Fire Pistol, and Abuse Of Power.

As far as what led me to Youth Funeral, I have vivid memories of being driven around in my friend Ryan Boone's car when I was probably eighteen, and he was always playing this awful music that I couldn’t stand. One day I asked and he told me it was Saetia. I didn’t appreciate that music style for a while but eventually something clicked and that whole world opened up to me.

3) How did Youth Funeral start? Did you care to touch on Raph, as he used to be my contact for Youth Funeral and know that he is no longer in the band?
Youth Funeral started because of a mutual love for the music, chaotic passion, and creative freedom seen between bands like Raein, Ampere, and Jeromes Dream. Raph and I met in school when we were five years old. Our friendship persisted through going to school together most of our lives.

The high school we went to was the second largest in the United States, which led to us splitting during that time and falling into different social circles. Somehow, we independently refined our music tastes and our personal lives intersected again when we both started college and our bands would play together.
In what I will call the second chapter of our friendship, we decided to play music together and start Youth Funeral. As you noted, since we started, the people involved with the band have changed. Raph and Travis Fitzgerald were original members and I decided it would be best to move on as a three piece with another high school friend named Spencer Benson taking over on bass.

There are a number of reasons that led to Raph’s departure. In terms of the operation of Youth Funeral, it became apparent that Raph and I had different visions of what we wanted the band to be. In terms of Raph’s personal life, I don’t feel comfortable sharing anyone’s personal business on their behalf, but there were serious disagreements I had with his behavior in his own life during the end of his time in Youth Funeral. While this was far from an ideal end to our friendship, it was best for my mental health that we went our separate ways.

4) Tell us about the progression from EP to split to LP in terms of writing, recording, the final product and the band's influences.
Symptom Of Time was conceived and recorded in the span of one month with absolutely no time to actually consider what we created. For better or for worse, those songs were the foundation of Youth Funeral musically.
As I mentioned, Raph and I had different visions for Youth Funeral. The two of us would write our songs independently and then one of us would teach the other three people how to play them. I personally find it to be obvious which songs are written by either person and this lack of cohesion bothered me a lot and still irritates me when I reflect on our collective work.
Despite my criticisms, one common thread throughout our music are the influences. Everything is personal and introspective and meant to evoke an emotional reaction. Themes I’ve tried to explore are depression, paranoia, love, suicide, self-hatred, chaos, and others. With these two most recent releases, those influences are explored further.
"I Would Do It All Again" is what I would consider to be the first appearance of Youth Funeral in its most focused and complete incarnation. With visuals and sounds, I designed everything and wrote everything. Which is also the case with Heavenward.

5) What are your personal thoughts on 'Heavenward'?
I feel proud of Heavenward. The entity of the music carries deep meaning for me. I hope that people listen and find positivity within the experience.

6) How did your split with Scowler come about?
As far as I know, Raph and Scowler talked about doing a split since him, Travis, Mike, and I all liked their music. We played a show together in Lowell, Massachusetts a couple winters ago and we all briefly met. The split happened and we never played together again and no one in the band knows anyone in Scowler at this point. It’s kind of a bizarre lost connection to reflect on.

7) Can you delve deeper into the writing and recording process for Heavenward?
The music that was ultimately used for Heavenward began forming in the winter of 2015, around the time See You When I See You was released. By this time, Raph’s involvement with the band had waned to essentially non-existence. In-turn, any creative contribution he would have made was taken over by my own. Thus, I wrote all of the music for Heavenward, isolated in my bedroom. I would write a song, show Spencer and Mike at practice, and then we’d work through everything together. Though, the foundational composition of the music was all painfully obsessed over by myself in solitude.

There was a significant amount of revision that lead to what the music resembles now. For instance, there is a demo version of Lonely Man that we recorded with Niko Zaglaras and Neil Pandya at The Keep in Chicago. In that version, the main guitar part was overly complex, the bridge following the first verse didn’t exist, and the second verse used to be followed by what ultimately turned into the beginning of With Love I Weep. I decided that Lonely Man needed more room to breathe and that the latter half would work better becoming another separate piece.

As with every other record Youth Funeral has released, we went to Dead Air Studios. Everything was recorded live over two days with Will Killingsworth. There was some separate recording, as I play a second guitar track on the record, and we recorded vocals the day after the music.

8) What about the lyrical themes of Heavenward?
The lyrics are personal. There are intentionally recurring motifs throughout the songs and they are carefully ordered amongst themselves to present some relationships that I find valuable. The songs are based around experiences I’ve had. I don’t want to force people into any specific interpretation beyond what they hear and see themselves, so I’d like to refrain from sharing too much.

9) How has the reception to the new LP been? I saw you are almost sold out already! Plus you have a release show coming up?
I’m flattered by how people seem to like Heavenward. Everything about the record was extremely personal and I didn’t expect or need anyone to care about the record, beyond whatever would ease the burden of the parties kind enough to support its physical release. To see people react as positively as they have been to Heavenward is something I deeply appreciate.

We do have a release show coming up. Unfortunately, the original date had to be rescheduled due to Winter Storm Helena’s severe weather conditions. I’m currently in the process of booking the new date which will be in February.

10) Appease the gear heads.
I’m not much of a gear head myself so I don’t think I can appease them as much as their peers might be equipped to. I suppose I’ll describe what I personally use. For guitar, I alternate between using a special edition Fender Telecaster with two Seymour Duncan pearly gate humbucker pickups, and then on extremely rare occasions I use a 1981 Gibson Sonex 180 Deluxe with upgraded hardware that I forget the exact specifications of. For amplifiers, I’ve used a Sovtek Mig 100, Peavey VTM 120, and a now I exclusively use a Roland JC-120 2x12 combo. For cabinets, I have always used a Mesa Boogie 4x12 rectifier cab. For pedals, I currently use some combination of a Boss tuner, Ibanez Tube Screamer, Pro Co RAT, Boss reverb, and Boss noise suppressor. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

On our recordings, I can’t remember specifics, but I know for Heavenward I used a Dr. Z Carmen Ghia, and a Peavey 6505+ combo. I also tend to mess around with whatever interesting pedals Will has available, so there could have been some interesting combinations I’m forgetting about.

11) What chain of events led you to the current labels you work with?
Raph had been friends with Skeletal Lightning and Dog Knights Productions when the Scowler split was being planned. I simply retained a connection with both Sean and Darren after Raph left. Both parties were interested and excited about what we were making with Heavenward so we all collaborated together to release the record.

12) What did you want to say about DIY places being targeted and shut down?
The spaces being targeted are vital environments for providing an outlet to artists and all kinds of people. I understand the fear around their safety as I know from experience how structurally dangerous some places I’ve spent significant amounts of time in can be. However, I also understand the circumstances that lead to these spaces being the only option available to those who create and participate in them.

I do not want people to be hurt and I do not want spaces and communities to be lost.

13) Any thoughts on the world today?
The world today is a world of sharp edges. People need to take care of each other and practice patience and compassion.

14) What's next for Youth Funeral?
We will be on tour this summer. The two bands playing with us all agreed on the routing a week or so ago so we’ll start booking everything shortly. There will be more to share soon.

Thank you for all of the interest in what we’re doing.

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