Formed in Limerick, Ireland, and now based in London, guitar pop trio whenyoung look all set to become the next big thing in British indie. Endorsed by everyone from The Maccabees to Nick Cave, they’ve toured with the likes of Peace and Declan McKenna and this week unveiled ‘Heaven On Earth’, a new single that demands to be played on repeat; their rough-cut songs gloss up hidden complexities with happy-go-lucky exteriors. With a debut EP slated for release at the end of summer, theirs is a name you should get to know right now.
whenyoung are one of our new music tips for Latitude Festival 2018
I saw you last year supporting Superfood, and now you’re on tour with their mates Peace. How did you end up in that circle of bands?
Aoife: We knew Dom [Boyce, Peace] from just hanging out in East London. We met him at Baxter Dury at the 100 Club and we were like “put us on your tour, please!” and he actually did!
Niall: And actually, Declan McKenna was with him. Everyone knows each other in London, it’s weird.
The band clock my So Young Magazine t-shirt…
Aoife: We did one of their shows and a guy with a machete attacked the venue.
Niall: After we’d finished, me and Andrew were sitting out for a drink when there was sudden chaos in the venue. This guy was smashing the windows with a machete. He was after the singer from [south coast post-punk band] Hotel Lux because he took the piss out of his football shirt or something. Either the guy had it on him or he went home, got a machete, and I’m not exaggerating, it was that size [holding his hands around a foot apart]. Somehow no one got injured because the venue was so packed; it was insane. That’s So Young.
Take us back to in time. How did whenyoung come to exist?
Aoife: Andrew and Niall started playing together for fun in London, and when I came over there was a bass in our house because the guy we lived with played and I brought it to the studio. Like a week later Niall was like “we’ve got a gig in Camden” and I was like “oh my god, are you joking?” After that we continued to play all the time, as many gigs as we could.
How did that first show go?
Niall: I liked it. But it was probably awful. Aoife didn’t know how to play the bass. It was like the Sex Pistols or something.
How come you came over to London from Ireland?
Niall: Having gone from Limerick to Dublin, it was the next logical step. I think we all always wanted to come to London anyway, always searching for something bigger. Aoife said last week she wouldn’t mind going to New York and that’s always been in my head as well.
Andrew: There’s so much music in London. You read about your favourite bands and they’re all based there. There’s so many stories. And we came over and it was shit. No! We love it.
What did you do before you were full time musicians?
Aoife: Niall worked in a bookshop, I worked as a gardener and Andrew worked in a restaurant.
Andrew: We could all get favours from each other. Niall could get us some books, I could give a few meals every now and again. Aoife always got the fresh-cut flowers.
Did you play before you moved over?
Andrew: Loosely, kind of. I always played a bit of drums, Niall played a bit of guitar.
Aoife: We met each other through music, like we all went to the same gigs and indie discos.
You guys have worked with Felix White from The Maccabees, and you were big fans of theirs, right?
Aoife: Massively. Felix came to one of our shows and asked us to play a Yala! night at Bermondsey Social Club. And then we put out ‘Pretty Pure’ and ‘The Collector’ with them.
Niall: It was such a big thing for us, because Yala! is a really cool, new label but beyond that we were huge Maccabees fans. We all love them so much, since the first album. So it was really exciting to get to know them as people.
Tell me about meeting Bono.
Aoife: We were lucky enough to be asked to play at Shane MacGowan’s 60th birthday party in Dublin, and backstage was filled with all these A-listers. And I got talking to Bono. The whole time I was thinking “I have to get a picture”, and so I asked him. And he said “let’s do something interesting, why don’t you pretend to punch me?” and that most people would want to. I just thought wow, that’s so self deprecating and pretty sad actually, because he’s written a lot of amazing songs and U2 have done so much for a band from Ireland, especially in the feckin’ 80s when they came out. He just seemed really nice, and when you hear such negative press about someone like that it’s really lovely to know that they have a human side.
Niall: It was mad. Unfortunately the night before I was still in London but these guys were in Dublin and they went for dinner with Bobby Gillespie, Nick Cave, Glen Matlock, Carl Barât… I was just in London watching all these Instagram stories.
Andrew: Everyone was super lovely. Because of the event they were all just super interested in what everyone else was up to. Which was weird, you know, speaking to Nick Cave and him being really humble and normal.
Aoife: I’m sure they’re always like that, but you expect them to be different. Because it wasn’t their thing, no one really seemed to have an ego, they were all quite nervous and in the same boat, I was obviously way down the line, no one knew who the hell I was. But they were all really supportive and wanting to do the best job of one of Shane’s songs.
Festival season is upon us. Who would be your dream festie headliners, dead or alive?
Aoife: Television, Blondie, Patti Smith.
You’re playing with Patti Smith soon aren’t you?
Aoife: Yeah, in Dublin. We can’t believe it.
Andrew: Patti Smith is our collective number one. Even at the beginning our set we have a spoken word loop from one of her songs. So we’re kind of thinking, maybe we can get her to come out and do it live!
Niall: This time last year we would not be saying that Aoife had punched Bono, so… you never know.
Heaven On Earth is out now.