To celebrate his upcoming Australian tour, and the release of his excellent new album 21st Century Liability, we got to know him a little better and dug deep into what inspired the album.
How did you fuse so many genres together on 21st Century Liability – where did you draw the inspiration from?
“It’s kind of a weird question. I don’t really have a formula for it. I just kind of write but write what I’m inspired by. You know what I mean? And I love – I just want to be an artist that defies genres because to me my main genre is my whole way of thinking.
I just want to write music, write an album that just contains bits of different music that I like. This album is almost an album of defiance if you like. Lyrically defying the oppression that’s put on young people today and genre-wise, defying all boundaries and rules that have been put upon us for the last sixty years.
To me, rock and roll is in a real sticky situation. They want that life support because people are trying to do it in the same way they’ve done it since the sixties, and to me that’s boring. I want to spruce it up a bit. I just want to do something different with it.
And you can get a lot of fucking pushback from 70-year-old men in Def Leppard tee-shirts fucking saying that this is how rock and roll is supposed to be, but I’m just like, man, it needs to move, it needs to change, it needs to grow. That’s how it remains relevant, you know? And rock and roll right now isn’t relevant, in my opinion, and I want to change that.”
What made you want to change things in rock music up?
“I just think the music – I’ve just stopped listening to modern rock. I wasn’t inspired by it. It’s funny, someone said when you talk about rock music, you talk about the Arctic Monkeys or Blink 182 and they were ten years ago.
You know what I mean? When everyone talks about rock and roll music, it’s from the fucking past. They talk about the Rolling Stones or the Beatles or fucking Oasis but that was ten/twenty/thirty/forty/fifty years ago.
And that clicked to me and when I went to some rock shows, I’d just see 45-year-old blokes. Do you know what I mean? I’m just like for me, that’s sad because it isn’t igniting fire. I believe hip hop is doing the job of what rock and roll used to do right now because its representing something, it’s saying something. I want rock and roll to start up again, you know?”
The song ‘Polygraphic Eyes’ features some pretty heavy lyrical content – was it difficult writing that track?
“It was such an important song to me, that song. I just wanted to make sure I got it right because it’s so important and the issue is so important to be talked about.
It’s just what I grew up around. I’d be going out in my early teens and I’d just be seeing it. I’d be seeing drunk girls stumbling out of nightclubs with boys that weren’t nearly as drunk as them getting attacked.
The fundamental crazy messed up thing was it didn’t resonate how wrong it was to me until I grew up, until I took off the rose-tinted glasses that my mum and fucking dad gave me growing up. You know what I mean?
Because you were brought up in this society with this lad mentality so accepted. It’s fucking crazy and it’s disgusting. And I knew I just needed to write a song about it just to create awareness because people still don’t know it’s wrong. You know what I mean?
It’s become normalised because people aren’t educated about the subject. People are taught that it’s okay to take advantage of a girl if she’s fucking drunk or if she’s wearing a short skirt. Well, it’s not and people need to know that. And the way that people start to know that, and it will change if we talk about it. This song for me, I wanted to just create a conversation, you know?”
What do you want young men to take away from that song?
“With the video, I just wanted men especially to go, “Oh my god, I’ve done that.” I wanted it – because it’s not black or white. It’s not just fucking taking someone against their will. It’s an obligation thing. It’s, “Oh, let me buy a couple of more drinks, come on then, come on, come on.” Constantly pushing something when the woman doesn’t want to do it.
And again, it’s not just – it’s a lot more normal and that’s fucking disgusting. So, I want men to go, “Oh my god, I’ve done that,” and feel fucking awful and never do it again. I know it’s hard and it may sound naive but it’s my version of punk, man. I don’t want to divide anybody. I want to unite people to one greater cause and move the fucking world moving to a place of love, man.
It feels like the sixties again. You know what I mean? There is a change coming, a new culture. Young people are so intelligent, and we speak out, and I want the boys to speak out if they see another boy fucking doing what they did. They don’t know or realise. They tell them off and they say, “This is fucking wrong” because a lot of men don’t know it’s wrong because of the society we’re built up around, you know?”
You’re heading down for Splendour In The Grass – what do you think about when you’re onstage? What can we expect from your set?
“I don’t know. It’s like the only place in the world that I can be myself. You know what I mean? It’s an outlet for the energy that I’ve always had. So, the show is an outlet for my energy and it’s just – I want people to leave my show exhausted. I don’t want people to be like, “Oh, should we go get some food? Should we get a cup of tea?” After my show, I want people to go, “Fuck me, I need to go to bed. That show was the best.”
I want it to be a happy environment. I love it. You know what I mean? Like my version of punk is to unite people and we’re all fucking pissed off about these issues but we’re all – I can sing about it in solidarity. You know what I mean?
And I can’t wait to just come out. I love Australia. I love you guys. You guys are so early onto the music and that will always hold a special place in my heart.”
You’re on Warped Tour at the moment – what’s it like performing in a setting like that?
“That’s why I was so shocked about today. I think it’s the energy. You know what I mean? The energy is the same in every genre of music, from hip hop to metal. You know, from hip hop, rock to metal, the energy is what it’s about. It’s incredible, the kind of – like I love winning one person over at a time.
It was crazy. We were in St Louis today and there were hundreds of kids that knew the songs and knew the words which is just fucking crazy. I’ve never been here before, you know? It just blew my mind.”
Yungblud Australian Tour
Saturday 21 July
Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Tuesday 24 July
Oxford Art Factory, Sydney