Premiere: Youth Model – Open Season EP
First and foremost, Charleston, SC based Youth Model is not ashamed of their pop inclinations. Their newest EP, Open Season is their honest take on the lighter side of alt rock without departing too far from pop sentiment. The six songs run the sonic spectrum with riffing on title track “Open Season,” quirky opener on “Versions”, and weighty meaning on “Tried this Time” and “Heaven.” As I’ve heard Randy say multiple times, “We aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel here,” it’s true they aren’t exploring unknown territory but they have pulled influence from a gambit of alternative pop creators. As you listen, you may pick out the rasp of Muse, the straight forwared flight of Lovedrug, or the subtly effected sounds from Snow Patrol or even Mutemath.
“Open Season,” the title track, is subsequently the single from this polished EP. Thematic and pulsing “Open Season” illustrates the depth of emotional gambling and consequence within interpersonal relationships.
“Courtesy Call,” tackles the concept of moving on without being decent enough to keep all parties in the loop, “Out with the old and in with the new” – the prime real estate of this song is when the guitar solo cuts out to revisit the melodic picking pattern that has persisted throughout the whole song.
The second to last track, “Versions” creates a cohesive element between releases because it ties in some of the quirkiness experienced on Youth Model’s first release, “All New Scars.” The lighter side breaks away from the relatively serious songwriting chops that permeate throughout Open Season.
Open Season is a polished and relieving alt release from the Southeast – if this catches your fancy check out the album and interview below. Then head over to Bandcamp to cop that joint.
For everyone just tuning into Youth Model, tell them a little bit about the band – how long have you guys been working together and what was the primary driving force for your collaboration?
Matt and I (Randy) met through the radio show WXRY Unsigned which I co-host here in Columbia. One time he came on the show as a guest and was fronting the band behind the drums with an acoustic guitarist and keyboardist. Another time he was fronting a trio with him playing acoustic & singing with guys on keys and bass. I asked him what the deal was with the revolving lineup. He expressed that he had finally made the decision to front the band from the acoustic and was looking for a band. I told him I’l play drums and that I’d find a bassist and guitarist. That 4 piece he and I put together played it’s first show on November 29, 2013 at New Brookland Tavern. We then performed with that line-up doing shows in SC, NC & GA until January of 2015 when the guitarist and bassist left the band.
The video for your new single and title track ‘Open Season’ is footage from one of the old red scare videos – what stood out to me was the naivety of either the public or the film maker and how I can see that playing into ‘open season’ idea. Do you mind elaborating or providing more insight into the thought process behind the videos concept?
The idea to use the Duck and Cover footage was Matt’s idea. I had never heard or seen this particular film but have seen these type of red scare videos on YouTube and in documentaries on TV. I just so happened to do video production as my full-time gig so I edited the footage together to the song. I took bits and pieces and re-arranged them to make sense dynamically with the song.
“Open Season” is about the fear and trepidation you go through in your interpersonal relationships, whether that be your friends, co-workers or significant others. This fear or red scare of sorts involving these relationships can be real or imagined. The imagery of war in the song’s lyrics and subsequent video being a metaphor for the challenges we face revealing who we really are to these people. It’s more about those feelings than actually telling a particular story about a particular relationship.
Randy, do you feel there are differences between the style of music you aim to create and the type of music you promote with your work at WXRY? If not, What are some parallels between what your doing with Youth Model and the acts you have on Unsigned?
I think there are many similarities between Youth Model’s music and the music I promote on Unsigned. For one, the music has to be accessible. While Matt and I both enjoy some heavy metal (mostly me because I grew up in the thrash/hair metal era) and some progressive rock we are a sucker for a hook in a well written pop or rock song.
Also, even though Matt and I are not doing this full-time we still strive to record and perform live at a high level. We want the recorded and live music we create to be as good as any touring band out there. We push ourselves to make sure we’re not phoning it in. Are we there yet? Hardly, since we’ve only done a handful of shows as this duo and only 10-12 shows when the full band was performing. There is always room for improvement. I want the programming on WXRY Unsigned to appear on the same level of programming you’ll hear with the national acts and “signed Artists any other time you tune into WXRY.
I hate bringing up the radio show too much, but I feel you have a unique insight. It’s interesting that you work with radio but also see the usefulness in DIY distribution of mediums like Bandcamp? In your opinion, do these things work well together or are they counter-forces? One makes you too relevant for a grass roots following and the other leaves you in an oversaturated realm of obscurity.
Had I not been doing the radio show and Kenny McWilliams (producer of All New Scars, Youth Model’s first record and owner/producer at Archer Avenue Studio) pass me Matt’s material to play on the show, Matt and I may have never met even though at the time he was living right here in Columbia.
Also, being on the receiving end of band promotional efforts I have seen what works and what doesn’t. I’ve also reached out to the industry folks I’ve had touches with because of Unsigned and asked for advice on promoting the Open Season EP in a professional manner. I’d say doing Unsigned has been invaluable to me personally and especially in doing DIY promotion for Youth Model.
There’s an unabashed pop being projected on your first release ‘All New Scars’ and although there hasn’t been a complete departure from pop sentiment there is definitely more drive and an alternative rock leaning on ‘Open Season.” From Youth Model’s perspective was this transition intentional or natural? What are some differences and likeness between ‘Open’ and ‘All New’ and what about ‘Open Season’ do you think will attract listeners?
As previously stated Matt and I love pop/rock music. ‘Don’t bore us get to the chorus,’ is something I heard once and pretty much live by that when it comes to creating music. There are exceptions to that rule of course but for the most part that’s where we fall most of the time. We’re not trying to re-invent the wheel over here. We’re just trying to put it on a nice ride and roll baby!
I think the alt-rock feel of Open Season was something Matt was interested in making happen and the guys in the band at the time, myself and our producer, Eric McCoy caught that vision and ran with it. At the end of the day the songs all have Matt singing and all but one on Open Season were written by Matt so it’s going to sound like Youth Model because he’s the main songwriter (the only one right now and that’s just fine).
Tell us about your Halloween Costumes? (pics or didn’t happen)
Sadly I did not dress up for Halloween this year and I don’t think Matt did either but check me (Randy) out on Halloween 2011 as Maurice Moss from the BBC show IT Crowd.