Interview: The Gospel Youth

Ever since their debut single, ‘Kids’, dropped last winter, we’ve been big fans of Brighton pop-rockers The Gospel Youth. With a thriving combination of Sam Little’s soulful vocals and bright, urgent sound, the four-piece have won over a lot of admirers in their short time together. Having become a quartet in April, they released a second EP, ‘Empires’, in July to plenty of praise.

The infectious collection is carried by an honest and deeply personal lyrical core that makes the four-piece stand out from the crowd. Now having built a small but effective set of songs, The Gospel Youth are gradually gaining some road experience. First up is Hevy Fest, where we caught up with guitarist Jules Bowen and drummer Max Wingell.

Having opened the acoustic stage on the Thursday amid a thunder storm, we spoke to Jules and Max the following day in the blazing sun to discuss the positive response to ‘Empires’, their forthcoming tours with Verses and Bad Ideas, a possible album and more.

AH: So last night you opened the acoustic stage. How was it?
Jules: Yeah it was really good fun. We’ve never done an acoustic thing with our songs before but I thought it went really well.

AH: And this is coming off the back of the ‘Empires’ EP. How has the response been to the EP? Positive?

Max: Yeah really positive. It’s had a few good reviews.

Jules: We’ve been sitting on these songs for so long now, it’s amazing to get them out and have people hear them. It’s been incredible.

AH: So you formed last October…

Jules: Well me and Sam (Little – vocalist) were writing together for fun around this time last year. But we weren’t really a band until November when our first single – ‘Kids’. It was just a bit of fun but when we released it we thought we should take it a bit more seriously because of the reaction it got. It is quite overwhelming. We got Max on board and Kev, our second guitarist, on board as well and that’s where we are today.

AH: And now you’re a proper band.

Jules: Yeah pretty much. (laughs)

Max: A real band!

Jules: Kinda. Maybe. (laughs)

AH: For a new band like yourself, how important is a festival like Hevy for you to play?

Max: I think it’s really important for a new band to play a festival like this.

Jules: It’s just (about) getting your name on the circuit. Get your name associated with all of the other bands playing, and meeting people is fucking great. It’s awesome.

Max: And meeting fans too!

AH: Speaking of festivals, you’re playing the Breakout Festival in your hometown Brighton, and you got picked by Deaf Havana for that right?
Jules: Yeah we did. They’re good friends of ours. We’ve known them for years.

Max: Yeah they’ve helped us out.

Jules: We owe them a lot.

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AH: Who are you looking forward to seeing this weekend and at Breakout?
Jules: Well this weekend, Max…

Max: A Wilhelm Scream all the day. It’s going to be a shred fest!

Jules: I’m already rocking my Dillinger Escape Plan t-shirt. I’m a massive Dillinger Escape Plan fan but also I’m looking forward to seeing bands like Trash Boat, good friends of ours and As It Is. I’m well up for seeing them.

Max: Yeah they’re good mates.

AH: Some good pop-punk there.
Jules: Exactly. Flying that pop-punk flag.

AH: Going back to the ‘Empires’ EP. I hear you’re writing an album, is that correct?
Jules: Yeah. We are always writing no matter what. It is just what we do. There is an album in the works.

Max: There are foundations in the pipeline.

Jules: So fingers crossed.

AH: Because the EP got such a good response, does put any pressure on you or raise expectations?
Jules: No I relish it actually. I love it. It has got me pumped to write more. No pressure whatsoever!

AH: Up for the challenge then?
Jules: No definitely. This is why I am in a band. I love writing songs. I love performing.

AH: Am I right saying there is a video for ‘Lighting Fires’ coming out?
Both: (laughs)

Jules: There is a video coming. The ‘Lighting Fires’ thing…

Max: That was more a teaser for the EP. We do have plans for videos. We’re working on something at the moment. Hopefully we’ll have that released in the next couple of weeks. Just a semi-homemade kind of thing.

AH: Then in the Autumn you’ve got two tours. Playing with Verses and Bad Ideas.
Jules: Yeah Verses are friends of ours. We’ve known them for absolutely years. We were having a few beers with Jason last night. They’re fucking great dudes. They write some good songs. We’re privileged to tour with them. That’s actually going to be our first ever tour, so to do it with those guys it’s going to be fucking awesome.

Max: The Bad Ideas stint is going to be so good. I know those guys really well. My previous band did a lot of tours with them guys. They’re a really hard working band. I can’t thank them enough. Chris (Coleshaw – Bad Ideas bassist) is one of the hardest working people I know in the music scene.

AH: That’s just a long weekend tour right?

Max: Yeah. He (Chris) actually got in touch with me personally about doing those shows and he made it happen.

AH: What other plans do you have besides writing, touring etc.

Max: Nothing really. We’ve got Breakout, the tours. At the moment we’re working our performance side of things because we’re a new band. I joined the band in April so we’re ironing some creases out here and there. Breakout is a huge opportunity for us, so we don’t want to disappoint. We’re just taking it as it comes at the moment.

AH: Any final words to share with the Already Heard readers?
Max: Thank you so much for reading this and this interview and listening to our band. We absolutely love it.

Jules: Buy our EP because we’re poor as shit! (all laugh) We need some fucking money.

Max: Please buy a t-shirt. (all laughs)

‘Empires’ by The Gospel Youth is out now on Speaking Tongues.

The Gospel Youth links: Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp

October (with Verses)
03 Underground, Plymouth
04 The Forum, Tunbridge Wells
05 Waterfront Studio, Norwich
06 Tech Noir, Stoke
07 The Rainbow, Birmingham
08 The Hop, Sheffield
November (with Bad Ideas and Midday Committee)
05 The Cornerhouse, Cambridge
06 Chameleon Arts Cafe, Nottingham
07 Retro Bar, Manchester
08 Riverside Live, Sheffield

View more of Already Heard’s coverage of Hevy Fest 2015 here.

Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)

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