Double Up and Come Back #2: Tommy Wright of Young Kato Interview Rewind

By on Tuesday, 16th September 2014 at 11:00 am
 

Yes, it’s September, and summer festival season is over. But that doesn’t mean that Young Kato are taking any breaks. The Cheltenham group released their latest EP this week, titled ‘Sunshine’. (You can read my In the Post analysis of the track here.)

I had the opportunity to chat with their rather well-coiffed Young Kato frontman Tommy Wright at Liverpool Sound City back in May. It was a particularly busy weekend that saw the group from Cheltenham play a show at Live at Leeds that Saturday afternoon before travelling west for their appearance at the Zanzibar in Scouseland. “Everywhere we go, we’re still quite a small band, up and coming, we expect to play to no-one, so when we walk in to something like Live at Leeds, where there are so many bands to choose from and you have a full room, what a great atmosphere. It’s a great experience.”

As strongly supported by the comments of Henry Binns in Carrie’s recent Skype interview with the producer/musician of Zero 7, song syncing in television is now an important source of revenue for bands. But what seems more important in the case of Young Kato is the visibility leading to fame. There is no denying that the size of the throngs that now seem to follow the six-piece around the country are at least in part a direct benefit from their music being played on and their gig associations with E4 reality drama Made in Chelsea, which has clearly made the band much more well known in the country. When I asked him about how it happened, Wright said he wasn’t sure how MiC’s music producer Andrea found their music, but “she played us a few times in the background, they put us on a Spotify playlist, and the script was written with the idea that there would be a band on the show, playing live. Fortunately, she pushed for us and so that’s how it came about. And it’s been amazing for us, obviously.”

He also told me an amusing anecdote about how he’d still been working in a shop around the time when the episode with their live appearance aired and the next morning, “someone walked into the shop and stared at me for a long, long time and asked, ‘were you on tv last night?’ ‘Uh, yeah…” Still, he said at the time the guys don’t expect to be recognised when they’re out and about but when they are, it’s really nice to be noticed. I think it’s safe to say that they should be getting comfortable with the notion of this now, having graduated to a contract with major label BMG, “a force to be reckoned with”.

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to touch base with Tommy again to see how their summer had been. “Our summer was great, thank you! We’ve been kept busy playing festies and writing more and more music. Highlights have to be playing BST Hyde Park, [our] London headline show at the Islington and writing/recording the upcoming EP.” I prodded him for more about the ‘Sunshine’ EP and how it fits in the ongoing Young Kato story. “I believe ‘Sunshine’ is a perfect representation to where we are as a band at this very moment. We’re in very good place, hence the joyous and carefree vibe. Not everyone’s the same, but it’s completely natural to me for my writing to be dictated by how I’m feeling at the time.”

It sounds like the new EP is a good next progression for the band such that they’re not staying in the same place, while also not saying goodbye to what has made them already fast fan favourites all over the UK. “The songs on the EP certainly keep with the Young Kato sound and feel. I’d say ‘Sunshine’ leans more towards [former single] ‘Drink, Dance, Play’ due to its natural energy, chants and all. I’m most proud of track two, ‘Ultraviolet’, as it is heavily inspired by big ‘80s tunes. [Bandmate and guitarist Joe] Green and I have even included breathing loops throughout, inspired by a Kraftwerk song we stumbled upon around the time we were writing it. This EP is fun, a celebration of where we’re at right now.” I also asked that given that we’re closing in on astrological autumn, if he or the band had any reservations on the release date in September for an album clearly made in a sunnier, warmer environment. His reply was brilliant: “I guess it is slightly weird, but that’s the beauty of music. Music has the ability to brighten up even the darkest, coldest days.” That’s very true, isn’t it?

The promo video for ‘Sunshine’ released in early August doesn’t star the band – I’m sure many fans are mourning over this – but instead features a young girl listening to music on her headphones, dancing in her own dream world although she’s actually in a council estate. Tommy explains the premise: “The ‘Sunshine’ video for me needed to be simplistic and sunny. This would allow our song with a joyous chorus, big chants and hooks to be the centre point. Given that, we always take care in the aesthetics of a video, hand picking directors we like who cinematically are [at the] top of their game.” This attention to detail is, to me, yet another indicator of Young Kato’s great pride in being in a band and making music for the masses.

Going back to the song, I had to ask Tommy what the deal was with the saxophone. “We had the hook nailed in the song for a long time, then we set off to investigate sounds that would be best suited for the role. When researching back to some great ‘90s dance tunes and even some more current songs around at the moment, Harry [Steele, their keyboardist] thought the use of a saxophone would be ideal. There’s only one tune with the sax unfortunately, and that’s ‘Sunshine’! It’s something we’d definitely think about using again though.”

Finally, before I could leave the young Mr Wright alone, I had to ask how progress was coming along with their debut album release. In Liverpool in May, he’d said that they were the ultimate in perfectionists, going back into the studio to faff around with already worked on tune again. This time when I asked though, it sounds like things are set in stone, or are at least closer to being that way: “The album is on its way and we can guarantee that an album will be out, [we’re] looking at early next year! We’ve been adding some finishing touches to it, but it will be everything we’ve promised and more. Keep your eyes peeled.” And that we shall.

Many thanks to Tommy for being so kind to answer my questions yet again (we’re either headed towards becoming best buds or he already thinks I’m super annoying, ha!) and Paul for his assistance with this. You can listen to ‘Light It Up’ from the EP below, and for more TGTF writing on Young Kato, head this way.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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