Euan Hinshelwood, Joe Chilton, Adam Beach and Pete Baker as Younghusband emerged as one of a crop of so-called neo-psych bands in 2011. Under a canopy of reverb and phase, they could be heard hunting for escape routes from the played-out circus of British rock. While their debut album Dromes defined a scene, Dissolver sets them apart, taking in a wide sweep of guitar music and focusing it into a precisely individual proposition and garnering comparisons with Elliott Smith, The Shoes, and Big Star.
Having inked the map thoroughly with tours and appearing alongside the likes of Pond, Slowdive, Bo Ningen and Toy following Dromes’ reception into psych world, in February the band upped sticks to Bristol for two weeks, feeling the need to free themselves from London’s neurotic social circuitry. Out from the dark came Dissolver, woozily reflecting a corner of the land that is devolving back to flat beer, slanted cricket pitches and vertical class.
Recorded at Geoff Barrow’s Invada studio and produced by Robert Hampson of LOOP, Dissolver also features Warren Ellis, who heard them through the label grapevine when they signed to ATP, providing strings for ‘Heavy Expectations’ and the album’s self-titled closer. Dissolver arrives like eulogy fireworks at the death of the record with the Dirty Three / Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds warlord summoning a final shower of violins. It’s the ideal cadence on the gorgeous, patiently sought out sounds that populate the LP.
Ahead of their Cambridge show on the 17th (info and tickets here) Euan took time out to discuss the new record with us…
How has 2015 been treating you so far?
It’s been very weird. Making a record at the start of the year and putting it out at the end gives the year a strange character.
It’s early days considering its just come out but how do you think people have reacted to ‘Dissolver’?
So far it’s been positive. A lot of people were expecting a mega-heavy-psych-washed-out record I think. As soon as we announced Robert was producing, those ideas were spread around. We’ve done the opposite, concentrated on songwriting and minimalism, sparse arrangements. Not everyone is into it, but that doesn’t bother us. The people that are hearing Younghusband for the first time seem to really like it.
How did the conceptualizing and production vary on ‘Dissolver’ compared to your debut?
The production on Dissolver is a lot more consistent I think. Dromes was more random. Same goes for the concept. We know more what we are about now, not completely, not like we’ve dissected ourselves and stripped out all the guts-all of the elements of spontaneity-but we are confident with what we are doing.
Was there anything you learned from the first record that you wanted to bring to its follow up?
Not to use so many effects, not to let things get in the way of the songwriting and not to wait 18 months to put it out.
Were the songs written specifically for the record or have they been knocking around for a while?
One song, ‘Waverly Street’ was written before our first record came out. The rest was written from Jan-Oct 2014.
What was the hardest track on the album to finish?
Better Times I think. Hard not to sound whiny singing that one, I felt like it needed a dead behind the eyes delivery so it didn’t become too saccharine and sickly. Took a while.
What new tracks are you looking forward to playing live?
Can’t wait to to play Dissolver. We’re not playing it until we get Warren Ellis or another violinist to hopefully join us and play on it. We feel it needs that for it to make sense. I enjoy playing all the tracks. It’s refreshing to play songs rather than the same chord for 15 mins whilst wiggling around a delay pedal with your big toe. Don’t get me wrong, that’s fun, but it’s nicer to be doing this.
Was there a universal theme running through the record?
Unfortunately it’s a break up record.
Is the writing process quite democratic within the band?
There is a definite democracy but the core of the song is written before we rehearse. The democracy exists in the arrangement.
How much experimentation is involved in your music?
It’s not an ‘experimental record,’ but actually quite a lot. We played, tried and tested each song in so many styles until we decided what was correct.
Do you prefer working in the studio to playing live?
It’s weird to say this at the start of a tour, but I think I do. I’ve started to become quite nervous playing live. I’m not sure where it comes from. Perhaps the fact that the songs are now so exposed and we’re not hiding behind walls of noise. I’m sure it’ll switch again in the future.
Christmas is just around the corner, what are you all asking Santa for?
Some ABBA records please.