Hiya folks thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
So tell me a little bit about you and what you like doing for fun?
Liam: Well originally the music thing was our way of having fun outside of the mundanity of life, but somewhere throughout the past few months of being hermits that’s all changed. Writing tunes somewhere got embedded in our blood and has grown to be quite the addiction. If we haven’t written one in five minutes we start getting the shakes. So in our downtime we tend to have a break from that, have some raspberry jaffa cakes with a cuppa, smash a game of Monopoly and watch a bit of Corrie or The Chase to calm it down a tad.
Introduce us all to the members? TJ: I’m the bang bang drum stick man, Liam’s the string guru, Matt’s the bassmaster 5000 and Oli is the vocal demon and frontal energy presence of the entity known as Y!KES.
What’s one question you’re sick of being asked when interviewed? Liam: People always ask where we’re from. Birmingham is a fine place and we love bigging it up as much as we can. But we can never answer the question with the full answer, which is that we actually landed here on this planet from the 27th dimension to bring musical prosperity to Earthl!ngs throughout the galaxy. You can see the footage we got from our deep space mission in our latest video ‘Pirouette’, which is out now!
What made you decide to start a band / become an artist? TJ: We all grew up from the mid-late 90s through to the late 00’s, and music at that time was pretty unreal wasn’t it? All of us were exposed to the likes of Oasis, U2, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Pulp as kids, then through the 00’s you had bands like the Arctics, My Chem, Franz Ferdinand, Biffy all kicking off. The only logical step for any of us moving forward as such huge music lovers from birth was to just pick up an instrument and get involved. And here we are.
Which one is the biggest pain in the arse? (Lateness, forgets stuff etc.) Liam: I think we all have our nauseating oddities. Me and Oli get dead bossy when we’ve got missions to complete and it pecks the lads heads big time. TJ’s got a tendency to waffle on until you’ve the Van Gogh ear. Matt doesn’t drink tea – which already makes him bare sketchy – and won’t make the brew even though as a band member it’s technically his round. We’re all a pain in the arse and get right on each other’s tits, but that tension keeps the fortress secure.
What is the unsigned scene in Birmingham like at the minute? Liam: In Birmingham we are blessed with some incredible promoters. SYD, Sonic Gun, Birmingham Promoters, This Is Tmrw; all solid organisations whose heart is in helping the amazing upcoming artists within the city and getting them on the right stages with the right bands. The venues are dope, we’ve got the Sunflower Lounge, the Asylum, Mama Roux’s, Deadwax, the list goes on. And, of course, the people within the scene across both the alternative and indie spectrums. It’s a tight knit, supportive community and a great place to be for any upcoming band to cut their teeth.
What good bands are coming out of Birmingham at the minute? TJ: There’s loads! Veda, The Pagans SOH, Coast To Coast, Martsone, Straight For The Sun, Viridity, Led By Lanterns just to name a few. Then there’s some cracking indie artists like The NU, Ivory Wave, The Clause, Sugarthief all out there making waves. It’s great to witness so much talent coming out of the city we landed in.
What’s your favourite song right now from another band? TJ: ‘Spit’ by Wargasm is a banger. Got a lot of time for ‘Obey’ by BMTH and Yungblud. In terms of bands closer to home ‘Fever’ by Led By Lanterns, ‘What A Shame’ by Veda and ‘Pagan Pilgrimage’ by the Pagans SOH are all massive. Go check them out!
What support is out there for new artists in Birmingham ? Liam: We have the BMA’s on our doorstep, they’re always putting on great monthly gigs and they have a big annual award ceremony. We’re currently nominated in the ‘Rising Star’ category for 2020. We also have some fantastic promoters as I mentioned before, the people at SYD, B’ham Promoters, Sonic Gun and This Is Tmrw are all about getting newer acts on stage alongside more established ones. Then there’s legends like Alex Noble at BBC Intro WM, Johnny Doom at Kerrang!, Stephen Pennel at Counteract. Just awesome characters who give upcoming acts that bit of localised support they need for lift off!
How easy or difficult do you find picking up new fans to come to your gigs? TJ: We’ve always found it pretty easy. On stage we glam it up and play with all the energy we can physically muster, which tends to reel people in naturally of its own accord by the sheer spectacle of it all. But then off stage, we’re really approachable and down to Earth. We always stick around, hang out with the fans, check out the other bands. It’s all part and parcel of the experience, if you’re gonna show up 10 minutes before your set, play and then leave instantly then you might as well not bother showing up at all.
What useless talent do you have/ party trick? TJ: I can make wicked dinosaur noises. They need to save some money on the next Jurassic Park film and get me to do the voiceover work. I’d nail it. RAAAAAAAAWRK!
What was the most fun you have had on stage? Liam: Probably when we supported Counterfeit at the start of the year. The crowd and the energy was outstanding. We played tight, we made a load of new fans. Top gig, we had a blast.
What was the worst experience on stage? TJ: We were playing at Rough Trade in Nottingham and I stood on top of my drum stool during ‘Hiding In Plain Sight’ to do some theatrical bits. Absolutely stacked it, fell right through the kit. Cymbals and snare flying everywhere. Matt was pointing and laughing with tears in his eyes. We managed to pull it back round but I felt like a right tit.
Tell us something about each member that you think people would be surprised about?
Liam: Oli is genuinely one of the best footballers you’ll ever see. He’s got some interdimensional skills with that there ball. TJ is a mega cocktail bartender, he whips them up exactly as he plays drums, doing spins and tricks with the bottles like he does with his sticks on stage. I used to play the role of ‘Buster’ in a touring Blues Brothers tribute act & can sing everything from Soul Man to Sweet Home Chicago word for word. And Matt actually writes and plays everything in the band. Okay, that’s a lie. But the Sainsbury’s he works at was voted the best in the country [Big shout out to Oldbury Sainsbury’s!].
Who is the biggest named band you have played with?
TJ: We shared the stage with Reef and Buckcherry at Hard Rock Hell, getting mashed side stage to ‘Place Your Hands’ and ‘Lit Up’ was dope. One of our favourite bands, Oceans Ate Alaska, were at last year’s Macmillan Fest in Nottingham, they were wicked. Then in Birmingham we have jumped on shows with Vukovi, Mallory Knox, King Nun and Counterfeit. With a bit of luck we’ll be playing with some even bigger names moving in to 2021!
Tell us a funny story from backstage? Liam: Not so much backstage, but when we were supporting Counterfeit we pulled up to the venue and there were hundreds of screaming fans out the front. Oli gets out the van to tremendous applause, they had no idea who we were but could tell he was a frontman by his startling looks and overall swagger. I get out the other side to a, shall we say, lesser applause, but there was still a bit of appreciation. Matt walked round the corner in his Fred Perry with his KFC on and the Black Country tattoo on his leg on show. ‘Owamya all doing!?’ he shouts in his native tongue. Not a single clap. Total silence. What a shame.
What advice would you give someone going into the music industry? Liam: Be careful who you’re paying to run PR Campaigns. There’s too many scammers out there at that PR game so bands, be wary! Conversely, we’d ’d like to use this opportunity to do a big shout out to the awesome Jo at Puffer Fish PR. She’s been working with us lately and she’s the best PR we’ve ever had hands down. Other than that, work hard, be persistent. Nobody’s got an obligation to listen to you, the world doesn’t owe you anything. You have to put the graft and, at times, the money in to catch people’s attention by having the right sauce. Do as much of it as you physically can, even in areas such as production, social media content creation, videography etc. You end up learning a lot of skills that, in the short term, may wind up being more profitable than the basic ability to play your instrument and look cool…
What advise would you give your younger self ?
Liam: Take more risks, but don’t get ripped off. Trust your gut instinct and don’t waste time on things you know deep down aren’t right. And if you’re feeling unconfident about something you’re doing creatively, it’s probably going in the right direction. Persistence is key.
Whats your biggest achievement as a band?
TJ: The new record ‘MASS!VE’ is the best thing musically we’ve accomplished to date! We are so proud of those 5 songs. For Liam it’s been great to get ‘Faker’ and ‘Step Away’ out as they’re actually really old. There’s demos of ‘Faker’ that date back to 2011 when he was a nipper, so it’s good for him to get those songs out there and into the world. Then with ‘Alice’ and ‘Doorframe Angel’ Oli did a lot more of the writing than he did with the first EP. So it’s great to see Liam and Oli writing together and blending their two different styles into a more defined version of what Y!KES should sound like. Also we recently signed with Echelon Talent Agency which is a huge deal for us! This means we’ll be playing a lot of shows in 2021 that we can’t wait to announce.
What makes you stand out as a band? Liam: Having such an enigmatic and visually provocative frontman helps. The way we dress and make everything pink and yellow, from my trousers to TJ’s hair. That always grabs people’s attention. Having a 6 foot teddy bear with human teeth as a mascot helps. Then there’s the songs. We glam it up with as much flare and energy as possible, but ultimately the songs speak for themselves.
Right now, whats pissing you of the most? (Cant say the virus 🙂
Liam: Probably Matt. We modelled for a TV commercial the other week [Top secret info we can’t divulge into too much at the mo], and Oli had driven us to London and back through a manic thunder and lightning storm. I had to jump right on photoshop as soon as we got in to knock up some promo for a last minute Kerrang! play we were getting on Johnny Doom’s show the next day. Matt got given one job here, make us all a brew. Did he do it? Did he heck. So yeah he lost some serious Y!KES points for that behaviour.
Tell us about a time when you had a proper reyt laugh while you were all together? TJ: We recently acquired a van which we’ve been renovating for upcoming shows! It’s got bunks, seats, the full shebang. We’ve named it ‘Van Diesel’. When we started the work we found a manner of things in the back, including johnny’s, bras and king skins. Whoever had it before must have been a right wild individual! We’ve had a cracking time doing it up though. Apart from Liam, who nearly knocked himself out when he accidentally smashed his head off the ceiling. It looked like he had an egg on his suede for days.
Whats your favourite song to play live? Liam: From the first EP ‘EP!C’ ‘Hold On To Your Grudge’ has always been ace.. We’ve played that song at every show and it’s a real fan favourite, but it never gets boring! It’s just a real fun song to smash out and generally the crowd always knows the words and goes mad for it when it kicks in.
I hear you have a new single brewing, what can you tell us about it? TJ: We are releasing a video for ‘Step Away’ soon, which you can hear now on our latest record ‘MASS!VE’ on Spotify and Apple Music. We can’t give too much away but filming will be taking place in Van Diesel, Blackpool and at a cheeky little gig we’re doing for MMTV next week. And, of course, we’ll be teaming up with the mighty Zak Taylor again, the best videographer we could have ever asked for!
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world? Liam: The gap in the market for raspberry jaffa cakes is ridiculous. You can only get them at Marks and Sparks and they’re bare spenny. It’s ludicrous, they’re so good. Better than your standard jaffa cake. McVities need to pull their finger out and get on it before we release our own range of Y!KES themed ones and dominate the raspberry themed biscuit [or cake???] industry.
Thanks for doing us today folks, all the best and keep in touch.
Please can you attach a high res photo to go with this interview of the band please Liam Y!x