Featured image: The Young’uns, FolkEast, (c) Charley Shillabeer, Maddog Magazine
Charley Shillabeer talks to The Young’uns in anticipation of Folk East in Suffolk this August.
These three are the Musketeers of the folk community. From the first introduction of these marvelous storytellers it was obvious that they were brothers by heart. Honest and enticing vocals separate The Young’uns from anything else on the current scene. These three play an interesting angle on worldwide events that will play on your opinions of history, social justice and union. The Young’uns are a breath of fresh air for the folk community, smashing the conventional spectrum that is the genre. These lads are an unmissable act at FolkEast this year!
Charley: How did you three meet?
David: Interesting question, Michael and Shawn have known each other since primary school and beyond and I met them through a mutual friend when I was sixteen, So that’s how we met. How did we get into folk music, is that your next Question?
Charley: That it is.
David: How did we get into folk music? Well we stumbled across our local folk club simply because it was the only club in Stockton we found that would serve us underage (it also had some lovely real ale!). Anyway, for your readers who might not know what the Folk club is, basically people that would come in from a hard days work get together and just sing! And these are songs sung in their own accents, often unaccompanied with the raw T-Side accent – because we are from T-Side. Obviously when you’re in the choir at school you get taught to dilute your accent; so you’d have these big men drinking beer singing in gruff, unaccompanied harmonies in their own accents, singing about subjects that we’d never heard about: local history, our heritage, industry. We’d never heard anything like it and you don’t get anything like it in the charts. The reason why we were called The Young’uns is because we kept coming back to the folk club and people would say ‘Oh, should we have a song from The Young’uns’, and unfortunately the name stuck with us. We hate the name but that’s how we met and it’s a bit of our story.
Charley: With the lack of instrumentation in your songs, are you trying to achieve a rougher, raw sound?
David: You’ve hit the nail on the head Charley, you could be our PR person – that’s exactly right! What we want to do is get the message across in these songs. A lot of these songs have a real great message that we are trying to get across: a message of positivity, a message of social justice, a message of heroes. When you sing it unaccompanied people aren’t going ‘Oh that’s a nice diddy-did-doo bit’. It’s about singing it, being raw and in-your-face, and people can’t help but listen to the words.
Shawn: For me it’s all about storytelling. With an unaccompanied voice, people listen.
Charley: The album ‘When our Grandfathers Said No’– why was it called that ?
Shawn: It’s a bit of a weird one isn’t it? It’s the last line of the song in the battle of Stockton. We wrote this song when we came across this story, this wonderful thing that happened in our hometown that no one seems to know about or talk about. In 1933 when fascism was on the rise, the Black Shirts were looking over the country to find the right places for fascism and our hometown was one of them, as there was mass unemployment and hardships. Hundreds of the Black Shirts would bust in to hold rallies to convert the downtrodden to fascism; they got the shock of their lives, because two thousand people laid wait for them. When the Black Shirts would arrive they would be chased back across the river. So we like to call it ‘When our Grandfathers Said No’.
Charley: I like that, I like that a lot. Very strong message. So, as a politically motivated band what are your views on the current election?
Michael: Are we a politically motivated band?
Shawn: I guess we are politically motivated, definitely socially motivated. I think we never set out to be labeled a political group. I think certain things inspire us and certain things move us and write songs and sing songs about them then yeah, I guess we are political.
David: Despite the reaction from Michael there I think it’s important that with the current political set up that people are more active in their community and they stand up for themselves more so I’m fine with using the word political in that respect. I think the three of us are unsure. You have to look at who’s being penalized and who’s benefiting from the system. So yeah I think there’s a lot that need changing. I find it really interesting that this election has caused such a response by social networking – a lot of celebrities joined in protest. I think in some ways a tide is shifting. I think that will become more apparent when cuts are made. When cuts are made to the NHS, cuts to welfare, cuts to public services, cuts to broadcasting… all of these things that are important.