As the sun dawns on the avant-garde soundscape, Belgium’s audacious noise rock brigade, Youff, punctures the horizon with their latest audio-visual offering, “Heydays“. Debuted today, this electrifying video serves as the herald for their upcoming album, primed to drop on October 27th via a trinity of record labels: Bagdaddy Records, Rockerill Records, and Love Mazout Records.
Delving into the recesses of post-hardcore splendor, Youff crafts a symphony that borrows the erratic ecstasy of bands like Arab On Radar and Daughters. Their sound—a convulsive dance of noise rock, underground punk vibrations, and spazzy post-hardcore—feels like a controlled explosion: destructive, yet beautifully orchestrated.
This isn’t Youff’s first sonic rodeo. Grounded in the rich soil of Belgium’s infamous H8000 scene, the band has matured like a fine (albeit raucous) wine since their 2014 inception. Initially starting as a duo, their evolution has witnessed several iterations—from a duo to a trio, a quartet, and now, a quintet. Each transformation, a testament to their relentless pursuit of auditory innovation.
Their journey through “Heydays” is a rollercoaster ride through the existential quandaries of modern existence. The tracks, though cacophonous, are interspersed with moments of ethereal calm, like the eye of a storm. Whether it’s the deliberate misnomer “Sunshine” or the eponymous “Heydays“, Youff manages to balance sonic chaos with fleeting interludes of serenity.
And for the voracious minds eager for more insights, our exclusive interview with Youff delves deeper.
They dissect their journey from a two-piece outfit to a quintet, the art of embracing discord and harmony simultaneously. Plus, expect musings on their “most musical venture yet”, insights into tracks that juxtapose names with their sonic vibes, and a look into the inspiration drawn from disparate corners of the music realm.
Beyond the tantalizing revelations of our tête-à-tête, there’s palpable excitement about their impending tour, kickstarting on November 1st in Paris. As the pulsating heart of the Belgian noise rock scene, with ties to other vibrant acts like 30,000 Monkies and Crowd Of Chairs, Youff promises an eclectic confluence of raw energy, harmonious discord, and an undying spirit of exploration.
Catch the band live at the following dates and check out our full interview below.
Nov 2 – Troyes, FR @ The Message
Nov 3 – Lyon, FR @ Le Farmer
Nov 6 – Ilirska Bistrica, SL @ MKNZ
Nov 9 – Kreuzlingen, CH @ Horst Klub
Nov 10 – Bern, CH @ Bar Regula
Nov 11 – Turin, IT @ Magazzino Sul Po
“Heydays” is dubbed your most ‘musical’ venture yet. What’s the story behind that? Is it a compliment, a critique, or a paradox?
None of those three, I guess. It just feels and sounds like that to us.
With Heydays we wanted a broader approach. We wanted to step out of the obvious choices we made in the past, the easy pleasers. We tried to focus on the small unique parts of the old set and dropped the rest. Rebuild everything out of the parts we were proud of. Small parts, sounds we all have a soft spot for, mainly the dissonant ones.
With every song we tried to focus on one main idea, exploring its full possibilities, which resulted in endless loops and layers with no sense of direction. Then we stripped it down to match our own technical abilities and tried to beat some structure into it, at the same time trying to avoid the disappointment of ending up with a watered-down version of the original idea.
So, you guys started as a duo and now you’re this five-headed sonic monster. How did these metamorphoses stir the pot, musically speaking?
Youff changed it’s formation six times. We started out as a duo.
Me (Manu) and Alexander Schillewaert (bass). Alex left the band about a year ago. And Fill Brans replaced Alex.
Musical it’s a big change for Youff. You could say we’re kinda used to it. But the biggest change with this replacement is that the music was already written. Usually with a new member we just start from scratch. But this time, ‘Heydays’ was already written. So Fill had to learn the parts. Which was something we hadn’t done before.
All these changes gave us the opportunity to experiment and try to find a sound that suits us. You could say, all we did was sculpting songs out of trial and error.
This time we focused on all the stuff that worked and bundling it into an album.
Maybe with the next record we’ll change everything once more.
It’s not a start and finish kinda deal.
The H8000 scene is pretty infamous. How did the vibes and ethos of that underground landscape seep into your DNA?
Not all of us witnessed the H8000 scene with Michiel and Fill being from Limburg, the other side of Belgium.
Me (’91), Arjen(’88) and Victor (’95) all experienced this scene in a different way and in a different time. I think the main thing that seeped into our idea of playing live music is the fact that there is a stage for everyone. I started going to shows when I was 12. Seeing the weirdest things playing in basements, schools, churches and random living rooms. Some were terrible, some are still the coolest things I have ever seen. If there’s an audience you can build your own stage. There’s no need to wait until the bigger venues or mainstream pick it up.
Youff played a lot of venues who embrace this idea. The Dutch venue ’Het Stroomhuis’ to name one.
You’ve got tracks like “Sunshine” that are anything but sunny. What’s the allure in flipping the script like that?
We really think this is our sunniest track ever. We really do.
But I can imagine it’s kinda harsh for most of the people who just got to know us.
Me and Arjen (guitarist) wrote this one. I think we wanted a sarcastic catchy song.
The entire vibe of the song was built upon the motion of a wacky waving inflatable tube guy. Which, in retrospect, should have been the title of the song.
Gonzo Circus said, “The world is ruined and Youff made the soundtrack.” How does it feel to be the soundscape for a crumbling world? Tell us a bit more about the lyrical content of this beast of an album.
Nice compliment, although it certainly isn’t our intention to write heavy apocalyptic songs. But hey, nice bonus.
I think the biggest difference lyrically with previous releases, ’20/20 Hindsight’ and ‘If Wishes Were Horses, Homicidal Beggars Could Ride’, is that Michiel had more time to work on his lyrics. And we all had time to rearrange the music to his lyrics.
With previous releases we would book the studio and try to make the best out of it.
Lyrical wise that meant ending up with a mix of gibberish and some real sentences. On Heydays everything is written out, that’s a first. You’ll probably not understand half of it, but still. He rarely speaks (or shouts) from his own perspective, but takes on different persona. Role playing, really. A fear mongering dictator type, a shy loner, a personification of anxiety, an abusive father figure, an all-embracing positivo… Although there probably also is some stream of consciousness stuff he doesn’t understand himself.
Also, IF we would make a soundtrack for the end of the world, it would be Arjen playing Sunshine on an endless loop. It has been our personal hell for the past few months.
Your live sets have been called ‘energetic’ and ‘raw.’ How do you translate that adrenaline-fueled chaos from stage to studio?
We always record live as a band. This is the first record we had to dub the vocals afterwards. An obligated choice. Alex just left the band weeks before going into the studio. So, Michiel played the bass parts and did his vocals afterwards. I don’t think we’re really aware of bringing that same live energy into the studio.
What are your most admired influences in this field and always fun to watch bands?
I think we got a lot of Arab On Radar, Doomsday Student, Liturgy, Daughters, Glenn Branca, …
Those were my starting point anyhow. Combining these with maybe a bit more modern sounding punk/hardcore bands like Rise And Fall, Hessian, Converge or even Pissed Jeans.
You’ve mentioned influences like Arab on Radar and Shit and Shine. Any “guilty pleasure” music that would surprise your listeners?
We don’t really believe in guilty pleasures. Justin Timberlake all day, everyday.
How do you explore the tension between unity and discord in your music? It seems like you’re pulling from both ends of the spectrum.
Arjen had a lot of no-wave kinda ideas. So we experimented a lot with a-typical tunings. This is the first record we wrote and recorded with Victor on second guitar. Victor completes our dissonant as well as our harmonic side. We are pulling from both ends deliberately. I think it’s magical to start with focussing on the notes in between, by bending the strings or just de-tuning, and end up with a more classic harmony.
A few of you are part of other bands as well—30,000 Monkies, Crowd Of Chairs, Maze, Mesher. How do those musical ventures bleed into Youff, if at all?
Practically speaking it’s difficult! A lot of planning, trying to avoid double bookings and at the same time keeping everyone happy and satisfied.
Manu plays in Crowd Of Chairs, Mesher and Frankie Traandruppel.
Michiel plays in 30.000 Monkies, Joeri Chipsvingers and Novgrod.
Arjen plays in Maze and Mesher.
Victor plays in Tress.
Fill plays in Dogpeople.
If you look at it this way, maybe Youff is just everybody’s side project?
I think we all have our own experiences with music and enjoy the fact we don’t just have one output. And all those other influences will eventually, even if unconsciously, find their way into Youff, in whatever way.
It also creates more room and understanding for each other’s ideas. No need to push your own ego.
Considering the Belgian music scene, where do you think Youff fits or disrupts?
Youff is not the easiest band to book. Though, we are open to everything. We practically say yes to everything. We have played book fairs, art expos, birthday parties, almost played our first marriage last year!
We have done our own bookings for the past years. So, we always got the feedback straight from the source. The most common ones are:
‘too metal for a punk show’,
‘too punk for a metal show’,
‘too metal for the noiseheads’,
‘too noisey for the metalheads’,
Don’t get me wrong. I understand this music isn’t for everybody. But I also know we manage to get the crowd going. So give it a chance.
What’s next after “Heydays”? Do you already hear the beginnings of a new sound brewing, or is it time for a breather?
We are already working on new songs. Recycling old ideas, finishing songs that did not make the record.
But first, we’re going on tour. Celebrating ‘Heydays’, our 7th release, and hopefully many more to come.
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