The following Interview is with Kenn, one of the founding members and the lead vocalist from Youngland, following their recent visit to Australia where they played the Hammered Music Festival.
Hi Ken could you give our readers a brief history of Youngland, how it all got started, when it started etc?
In the 90’s I was playing in a “mainstream” band called Knockout. I had been listening to Skrewdriver and we learned and played two of their songs at our gigs. (I Don’t Like You and Pennies From Heaven.) Nobody knew that those songs were Skrewdriver songs and they were always a big hit when we played them live. I met Scott, who has been my drummer since the beginning, when he started to show up at the shows. He talked to me about why we were playing those songs and we talked politics a little. I remember telling him that I thought it was great he was going to our shows but I asked if he could keep the “Skrewdriver thing” on the down-low. He said “no problem”. When Knockout ended I called Scott and we started Youngland the next day. Our first practice was in the summer of 1998.
What inspired you to name the band Youngland?
I wanted something that showed a little pride in my own country and our rich history. Along with Australia, we are also a very young nation. “Young Land” seemed to work for everyone and anyone else that has started a band and had to think of names knows that it is not an easy task. Think of a name that you think would be a good band name then Google it and I guarantee that the name is already in use, haha! Also, I wanted a name that wasn’t over the top or too aggressive since our music really isn’t Hatecore.
Your style of music is very hard to describe, it has a sort of cow- punk, rockabilly sound to it, how would you describe it? Did any bands influence you in this style of music?
All the songs I write are just influences from the bands that have played since I was a kid. In 1981 I went to my first gig at a local bar that allowed all ages. We went to see a band called “The Kingbees” and I was hooked on going to shows. My earliest musical influence was rock-a-billy then it went to punk rock then too RAC. To this day I still like all the music I was into as a kid. But what influenced me most was the local bands that played Orange County from the 80’s to 2000. At that time, you could go out every night of the week and catch a “good” band at any of the numerous bars around town. Even the opening bands were often really good. I was playing in different bands through those years and got to play with a lot of great bands like Green Day, Offspring, Social Distortion, Sublime, Agent Orange, and many other GREAT bands that never made it. Of course those famous bands we played with were not famous at the time we played with them. We were all friends and all playing the same routine bars together.
But when we hit the stage and put on a show, that influence comes directly from my all-time favourite Orange County band called “The Cadillac Tramps”. There show was lively but with a lot of groove. We went to EVERY show they played. They had their own style and it worked greatly for them on stage. It is hard to describe but they weren’t doing back flips or anything like that, they were just “cool”. That is what I want people to walk away with from our shows.
What is the current line up and has it changed much over the years?
Our Current line-up is…
Kenn – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Scott – Drums, Backing Vocals
Krystian – Bass, Backing Vocals
Troy – Rhythm and Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
This is the BEST line up of musicians that I have had to date. We are putting out a split CD from “Strong Survive” records and should be out this summer, or in Australia it will be winter haha. The other people that have funnelled through the band are…
Martin – singer for Extreme Hatered
Wade – bass player for Definite Hate
Paul – singer of “Plunder and Pillage”
Lee – singer of Young Blood
and Matt who is a long-time friend of Scott and mines. Now that I look at it, they have all been bass players. Matt played guitar for the majority of the band but had to leave but on good terms. We are still friends with all the guys who pass through Youngland and I learned a lot with each and every one of them.
What other bands have you guys played in?
The bands I have played in are “The Ballistics” “Lucky 13″ “Knockout” and “Aggressive Force”. Scott has played in “Extreme Hatred” “Aggressive Force” “Hate Crime””JFK” “Youngblood” “Straight Jacket Society” and others…everyone needs a good drummer, haha! Troy has played in a famous Psycho-Billy band and other mainstream bands and Krystian played in a punk rock band that toured with “Gutter Mouth” (leftist Shit band, maybe one day I’ll tell you the story of how the singer showed up to a party at my house and almost got the shit kicked out of him by Scott and Brian Sawyer, the singer of Aggressive Force. Instead, he just got socked in the face, knocked to the ground and ran off, hehe. He deserved it though; He turned his whole crowd on a young skinhead by saying that they aren’t going to play another song until that “skinhead” is taken care of. The kid wound up getting stabbed. ) Krystian is now working on another great mainstream project outside of Youngland that sounds like stuff you would hear on the radio.
I hear you are recording for a new cd, it has been quite a while since you have brought out a new release, can you tell us a bit about this new cd?
As I write this interview we are finishing up the split CD with PWA from Poland. I go into the studio tonight to mix the songs and send them out to be pressed. We realize that it has been way too long since we have recorded. When Panzerfaust ended, it kind of took the fire away from us. And during this time we have all started families and have careers that take up a lot more of our time. During our first recordings, none of us had families and I would just come home from work, grab some beer and sit down with my guitar, a pencil and paper and play all night long. We now understand that that is the formula for writing good music so for this next record I’ll be making more trips to the store for beer…haha.
The plan that we have come up with for our new CD is to look back at our other recordings and see what we did right and what we did wrong. It is no secret that our first CD was the best. So we are going to stick to the formula that worked for that recording. The other recordings were “shitty” and recorded horribly. Also the lead guitars on those CD’s were as weak as a lean-to in a hurricane. The lead guitar problem has been solved with Troy playing with us as you will see on this split CD. We now have a great place to record and can have it “our way” without any friction from the engineer or producer.
Youngland has been a very popular band over the years, what other bands have you played with and have you played in other countries and are there any countries that you would really like to play in?
Oh wow…let me try to remember…We have played with almost all of the American RAC bands that are still playing like Bound For Glory, Max Resist, Bully Boys, Aggravated Assault, Blue Eyes Devils, Intimidation One and Definite Hate to name a few and of course all of the Orange County bands like Extreme Hatred, Final War, Aggressive Force, White Knuckle Driver and Hate Crime. As well as a lot of European bands, in England we played with Brutal Attack, White Law, Legion of St. George, we played in Finland with Mistreat as well as playing in France, Belgium, Italy and several times in Germany. I would love to play in Spain and also Greece since they have just elected a Nation Socialist to their government. I’d also like to play some obscure places where there are NS movements but the people are other than white. There are still NS groups in Japan and I want to play there…I mean can you imagine playing “Thank God I’m a White Boy” to a crowd of Japs all singing along? What a riot!
You have just recently played in Australia, can you tell us a bit about your experience there, what you thought of it and would you like to return?
From the time I was about 13 till the time I was 26 years old, I surfed EVERY day! Then I blew out two disks in my back and also went to college so that limited my surfing big time. I still surf and I will be this weekend and every time I get a chance. I say this because I really fell in love with Australia from watching videos of the surfers and the places to surf there. It has always been a dream to visit you guys and I would have never thought that I would make it over there, let alone play my music in front of many people and have such a warm welcome by so many friendly people that I met and became friends with. It was also nice to finally meet Shannon from Ravenous because I have been talking to him off and on since the first week that Youngland started.
I’d also like to say how much Australia reminded me of Orange County California. I just had a feeling of being at home! Would we return??? HA, call the airlines tonight and we’ll be on it!!! Although there has been a bit of talk that we may come back next year but…SSSHHHHH, don’t tell anyone :)
What keeps you determined to carry on with Youngland, to write the music and continue doing the shows?
Firstly, I love music and I love the kind of music we play. There seems to always be something happening, no matter how small, that keeps us going. I would have to say that Scott, my drummer, has been the biggest motivator in keeping Youngland alive. Some say that they thought Youngland had quit, I can understand that, but yet during the whole time we weren’t putting out CD’s, we were still practicing and writing new songs and having fun doing it. The band has stood constant and energetic since the first practice, there was just a time that there was nothing being recorded. We have been through a lot of people that have come in and out of the band and I would say THAT is our biggest discouragement. It takes so much time to find and teach another person how to play all the songs in our set list, other songs that we may throw out there and also have the same attitude, stage presence and ability. But don’t worry, Scott and I will go through it again and again if we have to. BUT, right now I believe that the current members of Youngalnd are the most talented, entertaining and best bunch of guys we’ve had yet. I REALLY want to keep these guys and I think it will work out because the bass player is my nephew (so he’s not going anywhere) and Troy is a long time personal friend that is having a blast playing and traveling with us!
A lot of Younglands songs talk about Unity, do you feel that there is much Unity in this movement and if not do you think we will ever be able to achieve it?
I do enjoy the diversity we have amongst all the different groups we have and everyone seems to get along these days. When we first started there were some groups that had feuds and wouldn’t talk to each other. There were times when we would play a concert for one group and another local group would refuse to have us play for them because they were under the impression that we were connected and were involved with that group, like we took sides against them. That was a difficult time because we have always stated since day one that we will play for ANY group that is out there defending our culture! And that is what we care about. The rivalries come and go and we don’t get involved with the personal politics of any group. I think that is best handled by the men and women who are involved, not some band from California, hehe! With all the members coming in and out of the band, none of the guys have every joined any group and we remain that way today. Not joining up allows us to support any and all groups that would have us play. We will hear the rumours from this group to that group or this guys is bad and so on, but when Youngland comes to town, it seems everyone gets along and has a good time and EVERYONE that we have met through the years have always been the coolest people I’ve ever met and become lifelong friends!
In America do you have much trouble from the media, Antifa or police when holding a show?
There was a militant Jew out here in Southern California names Irv Rueben who would scrape up the dregs of society and march out in front of the clubs we played at. But as soon as all the news vans and cameras left, they would leave too. So no there has been not much trouble between them and us. We haven’t had many shows lately and the ones we do have been kept a pretty good secret. We usually have them about 30 miles south of town and it is just too far for them to drag there sorry asses to. By the way, that Irv Rueben guy went to jail about 7-8 years ago for being involved with some sort of conspiracy plot to blow up a building. Just before his trial the cops were escorting him up a flight of stairs and at about the 10th floor he decided to jump and commit suicide…he brilliantly succeeded!
The hardest part of having a show is getting the club owner to agree to let us play. When the cops find out about the show they usually call the club owner and threaten to take his alcohol license away. Not many clubs will risk the loss of their license, but some will get furious that the cops are threatening them and hold the concert just to tell the cops “Fuck You!”
Any closing comments or thoughts you would like to share with our readers?
Like I said, coming out to Australia was a dream of mine for as long as I can remember and I would like to thank ALL of the people that made it happen, from the bottom of my heart! Stay strong and determined my friends, success and victory is just around the corner.
Thank you Kenn for taking the time to do this Interview with us, I would like to say it was a pleasure meeting all you guys while you were here in Australia and thank you for putting on the most kick arse performance I have ever seen.