by James Fleming
The Young Folk are tired. No, that’s not a social statement, they’re just exhausted. And who can blame them? Playing to 20,000 people in Belgium then travelling straight across to Galway to play to a crowd of the faithful in the Róisín Dubh. That would wear anybody out.
Paul and Anthony explain that they’ve had about four hours sleep. Nonetheless, they make for great interviewees, quite happy to chat away for 20 minutes about their music and life on the road, which started way back in Ballyfermot Music College “seven years ago,” Anthony says. Paul jumps in and corrects him “we always keep saying seven, it’s probably more like 10 years ago now!”
However, The Young Folk only came together about four or five years ago “officially”. But Paul and Anthony met at college and have been playing together in bands ever since. Their third core member, Tony, was Anthony’s manager at a music store where he worked after he returned from living in The Netherlands. “He told me he retired from music at the age of 26, at the time. I laughed and then asked him would he like to play some music…”. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Young Folk have been described as “alternative folk,” but the band has always shied away when questions about their genre are raised.
“There was a quote in a paper in Holland about six months ago saying our music was: ‘polyphonic folk-pop,’” Anthony explains. However, they embraced the label and Paul says that they use a lot of synths and sample pads now, and it’s the use of these instruments that the band believe lead to the term “polyphonic”. As for the “alternative,” in “alternative-folk,” both Paul and Anthony are in agreement that it’s more of an edge than anything else: “we’re not really a folk band”.
But, Paul says that, from a songwriting perspective, they do take a lot from folk music. And, to further convolute this seeming contradiction, Anthony explains that he grew up with folk music in his home. From the more modern folk-rock of Dylan and Neil Young, to older artefacts such as Woody Guthrie. So, while the band would not describe themselves as folk, there is a folk influence to their songwriting, but not their music.
All three members of the band write songs, and each of them write completely differently Paul says. “If I hand a song over to Anthony, or vice versa, he might change my song around completely. But that’s a good thing”.
When asked how has their music evolved, the pair’s eyebrows are raised and Anthony asks “since we started playing music, or since we started the band?” And, after it’s explained that the question referred to both, Anthony says “I started off playing Oasis!” If someone had a guitar at a party and they knew an Oasis song; “they were the hero for that hour.”
Before The Young Folk, the pair played in all sorts of different bands ranging in styles from metal to folk. Paul was in an instrumental heavy metal band called Jesus and His Dog!
Both Paul and Anthony have high praise for Ballyfermot Music College and their facilities, especially the live room which, Paul says, “is as good a live room as you’ll get in most venues around Ireland”. It was the playing live aspect of his time in Ballyfermot that affected Paul the most, while Anthony says that the opportunity to meet other musicians was the most worthwhile facet of college life. There course took in all sides of the music industry. From playing live to music theory. Paul even goes so far as to say; “sure, if all else fails, we could be managers at the end of this.” This is an idea that Anthony seems to have really taken to. He explains that “I’ve actually thought about it the past few weeks, of taking on a young band and seeing what I can do with them. Like, I dunno, there’s a load of young bands out there that I’d love to take on. Even for a month or two, just to see. I just don’t have time.” They’re even thinking of setting up a management company, once the band is “properly established”. Because, as The Young Folk know well, it’s very hard to make money just being a live musician.
When it’s pointed out that they seem to be doing alright for themselves, Anthony makes the counterpoint that it’s mostly abroad that they are well known, they did play to 20,000 people in Belgium last night. “It’s a bit weird; outside Ireland there’s something going on with our music and those people. It’s very strange.” He goes on to joke that all the band needs is someone to call them British, and they would be sorted!
They’re a humble pair. Paul confesses that he feels he “still needs tips,” on how to make it in the music business. But, he does stress that a young band “has to keep at it”. While Anthony says that bands should strive to make sure that their songs work acoustically as well as with a full band. And, to make sure they know just enough about the music business “to get ya by”. This sentiment is summed up perfectly by Anthony when he says “enough that you know that you’re worth it”. And not to accept beer as payment!
What’s next for The Young Folk? “A few festivals, push this brand new album as much as we can over the next year”. Paul explains that they never thought the album would be an instant hit. But, that he felt it would be a “slow-burner,” of an album. An album that garnered respect over time. They’re also heading over to the U S of A after the festival season. But, more importantly, they’re playing at the Button Factory on Saturday 14 May. Make sure you’re there folks. It’s gonna be cool.
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