There hasn’t been a lot of new rock music on the scene in the last few years… while older bands like Fall Out Boy and Green Day are still rocking after twenty plus years, it sadly seemed as though our happy days of new pop punk tunes were over. That is until one weekend recently, the rumblings of a UK artist started filtering and buzzing around loud enough to make a bevy of Los Angeles music tastemakers sell out a private showcase at famed rock club, The Viper Room — to see what was said to be the “revival of pop punk,” live on stage.
Early inside the club, a punk teenager is doing strange-sounding vocal warmups while roaming around just outside the backstage door. His hair is reminiscent of 90’s Leo Dicaprio in his prime. He’s wearing high-waters with bright pink socks, and shoving his bandmates into the walls… this, is Yungblud.
At the time, only “I Love You, Will You Marry Me” had been released — an explosive alt-rock tune with a splash of ska and all the things that would remind you of the gone-too-soon band Sublime back in the 90’s, albeit with a fresh twist of grunge punk and hip hop break-beats. The packed house didn’t know just what they were in for as the Yorkshire-born 19-year-old took the stage wearing a black hood and a guitar slung over one shoulder. His stage swag seems like a young Mick Jagger crossed with the dark appeal of Kurt Cobain — it’s clear he’s been influenced by some of the greats. “ I grew up watching artists like Jagger, Freddie and Kurt — real showmen that put on A PERFORMANCE every time they walk out on stage. So what to expect from my show…a lot of energy, a lot of fun, a little bit of danger and definitely a performance”.
As far as what his thoughts on the whole genre classification nonsense — “genre” being something a kid like Yungblud would likely reject, he says “I’m definitely here to shake things up. I loved all those genres of music growing up, they come from the same soul — they have attitude and speak about real shit. I think right now when everything seems so stale and safe why not mix them all up to re-invent something new and try to bring back some attitude and truth.”
Just like his music, Yungblud also wanted to be defiant when it came to his name. “I was the youngest person on my management roster so my manager called me ‘young blood’ from the beginning. My name is Dominic Harrison and to me that didn’t correlate with my music, it just sounded a little ordinary. Regarding the spelling , ‘Youngblood’ is a little ‘polite’ to me on paper — so I changed up the letters and put two U’s in, which also matches my accent.”
While his music seems to be straddle the line between pop-punk and hip-hop, Yungblud grew up being “exposed to loads of different music.” He names Eminem, 2pac, Joe Strummer, and Alex Turner as his top inspirations “because of their ability to tell stories, bring politics into pop music, and talk about real shit.” But he also loves Lorde, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West and Post Malone, “because they push boundaries and never settle with what is ‘popular right now.'” He adds, “I want to be an artist like that.”
Today, “I Love You, Will You Marry Me” has just over 1 million spins, and two subsequent singles (with just as much high energy as the first) have been released. Yungblud will join K.Flay on tour next year and says we can expect “loads of new music,” in 2018. As for the moment when Yungblud will know he’s made it? “I think it’s the same for every Brit … [playing] Glastonbury main stage. I’d lose my shit.”
After the performance, the air in the club seems sticky with sweaty patrons and the smell of vodka — it’s obvious: Punk is back. The crowd hasn’t stopped jumping and dancing for the entire set. One thing has been proven from this sweaty night at The Viper Room: For the day that Yungblud does sell out Glastonbury main stage, you can expect to have your face melted from his high energy levels and “loads” of sheer talent. You’ve been warned.
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