Remember the Young Knives? You know, that indie three piece who aren’t White Lies, The Joy Formidable or The Subways. Got nominated for a Mercury Prize in 2007 with their debut album 'Voices of Animals and Men?' Used to wear a lot of tweed and have a bassist named The House Of Lords?
Well if not, it is about time you got acquainted. Not only are this Leicester-based bunch back with their best record yet, the disco-tinged 'Ornaments From The Silver Arcade'. On April 6 they’ll be performing an exclusive headline set to launch the monthly ‘Gigwise Presents’ club night at XOYO.
All in all, it’s a superb time to be a Young Knive and we caught up with lead singer and song writer-in-chief Henry Dartnall to celebrate.
You released your first EP The Young Knives... Are Dead in 2002. It’s quite an achievement to still be around?
It’s either stupidity or laziness or maybe we’re quite good, I can’t work it out. Maybe we’re just hanging on by our finger nails hoping, “This is the big one!” Ten years down the line.
It’s been three years since your sophomore record, Superabundance. What have you been up to in the meantime?
[Puts on squealing T4 presenter voice] What have we been doing??? What have we been doing???
[Reverts to normal] We only released Superabundance just after we were nominated for the Mercurys for the first album. Everything felt really quick at that point.
Then music changed and we needed to take some time figuring out what to do. We moved record labels and found some people who are quite sorted and are going to give us a boost in Europe where we’ve done some stuff but not a lot.
What was the spur for switching record labels?
Some of it was just bullshit. It took a year to get a new record deal and that was after we’d written all the songs.
We were on Transgressive and they parted ways with Warner Bros. At that point there wasn’t much point in having a little indie label running our affairs because we weren’t looking for buzz anymore, we were looking for...
Yeah. So we didn’t want to do Warner Bros again because they were good in the UK but not in the rest of the world and there’s a lot of people in the mix at that stage taking a cut.
When you’re a band of our size you need to take all the money you can get. You need people who give a shit about working for you so we cut out as many middle-men as possible.
You mentioned music changed but you always seemed quite an island to yourselves playing on an image of intelligence and middle classness?
It’s funny you say that because, we’re all state school educated and live in the East Midlands so we put a set of tweeds on because we thought it would be funny. It helped at the beginning but it didn’t half stick around. I think musically there are people who know what we are about and there are some people who think we’re just the band that wear tweed.
The new album sounds great. There are a lot of toe-tapping moments. It seems almost as though a bit of disco crept in there?
Well it’s always been there, we just needed to mix it up a little bit because it’s a bit more upbeat really. We just wanted to make a positive record. It would have been very easy to go down a more cynical route than usual with loads of witty one-liners but we just wanted it to be... pretty really.
I love things like Suicide and Silver Apples with the bassline that just repeats but we didn’t want to go down that leftfield sort of route. Just put these melodies over the top and when you do that it does kind of come out disco.
You recorded the album with Nick Launey who’s on a bit of a roll at the moment having worked on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ It’s Blitz! and Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs. How did that come about?
We were up for it on the last record actually and he couldn’t do it. Originally for this album, we were looking at quite glitchy, bedroom producers and then I realised that what we really need is someone who gives a s*it about the songs.
He was the most positive producer I’ve ever worked with and I’ve worked with some miserable b*stards in that very kind of British way. It was just easy: get up have a swim, get in the studio and work on the record.
How do you measure the success of Ornaments From The Silver Arcade then?
We’ve got a pretty dedicated fanbase. You’d always like more but I just want it to touch people and I’ll be happy with that. It’s really difficult to tell whether people are going to like it or not.
I think it’s good...
I run a bit hot and cold on it. I’ll think, “We’ve made a bit of a weak album here.” Then you have to talk yourself around. “No. It is alright, it is alright!”
There’s always the little devil in your head who says, “You’ve done s*it.”
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
We going to do an Academy tour just because we’ve been away for so long and we need to build things up but that’s alright. It’s exciting!
Hopefully there are going to be festivals rolling in. We’re going to try a European tour.
It is quite a hard slog really because, you’re constantly selling yourself and trying to make yourself successful but the gigs are always amazing. I don’t tire of it though. I’ve got a kid now though which keeps my head on the ground.
When did that happen?
I’ve had them both in the time which we were writing the record one’s twenty months and the other is three weeks old.
That’s pretty incredible!
[Sarcastically] It is just at the wrong time.
[Speak to self] “Well done. Well done. Just at the time I’m about to do a massive promo campaign for an album.”
But it was time for me to do it. We had a bit of downtime and I thought it is time for me to get that out of the way so I’ve got them and they are there and I have to look after them whether I like to or not.
Congratulations anyway, good work there.
Good loins! Good loins!