Young Ones put on their big boy pants for Sled Island, round two

By Laura Wan

Although they get their name from the title of an underground British sitcom, the sound of Young Ones is far from scripted. A group of four friends with diverse musical backgrounds, this Calgary band melds their varying tastes to create a sound that’s as harmonic and mellow as it is punk-rock.

In recent months, the indie outfit was invited to play the Sled Island festival for the second time, but their story started much before that. Young Ones has progressed steadily upward since its inception, from opening for acts like Tokyo Police Club and Ladyhawk to finishing a Taco Bell-fueled recording of their self-titled EP.

The formation of the band took place when vocalist Brett Sandford found himself out of commission– and bored– due to a knee injury. After a call to drummer Cory Brown and a conversation with friend Logan Juke, who happened to play bass, the project was well underway. Joel Learoyd, already a member of another indie-rock band titled The Grim Beat, was invited by Cory to jam and, after playing a few riffs, sealed the deal with Young Ones.

“He basically started playing our first song,” says Sandford of that first jam session.

Since evolving from playing Descendents covers, the boys of Young Ones have embraced Calgary’s music scene head-on– but they’re still a bit wary of it.

“There’s a lot of division– niches, small groups doing their individual thing,” says Learoyd. “Most of the artists that end up getting outside of Calgary . . . are the ones that were never really part of the smaller communities to begin with. They always had their own thing going.”

It is with this autonomous spirit in mind that Young Ones has positioned itself on that very track. Its unique, hard-to-describe sound dovetails with a common post-punk influence, but as the band grows, so does their music.

“We didn’t start off [aiming] to be a big band,” explains Brown. “We just wanted to see what we could do.”

As the members of Young Ones continue to write new songs, they are willing to experiment and try different styles to further develop their music. Their indie, punk and hardcore backgrounds are still a foundation to their original sound, but the influence of artists like Raphael Saadiq and Mystery Jets has since added some depth to Young Ones songs.

And along with valuing solid studio recordings, Young Ones promise sound live performances as well.

“We’ll never [record] anything that is over and above what we can do live,” says Brown.

But if you find yourself at a Young Ones show, don’t expect a purely technical and rote performance, either. The band reminisces about some wild shows, a confrontational sound guy and a “strict” three-beer limit on pre-show drinking, and ironically, their worst show has still managed to be one of the most fun shows they’ve played.

And thankfully their “wild shows” are far from over.

“[Sled Island] is especially supporting local bands now . . . they’re really showcasing what Calgary has to offer,” says Learoyd.

The band believes that this is due to the efforts of the festival’s new director.

“[Lindsay Shedden has] really brought together a group of Calgary musicians that are worth showing,” says Juke.

The guys count local bands Miesha and the Spanks, Double Fuzz, and No River among their festival recommendations.

However, if after the Sled Island beer taps have gone dry you find yourself more drawn to Young Ones, their self-titled EP is set for release this July on 10″ vinyl and CD formats.

Until then, get your melodic post-punk fix by making your way to the doors of Vern’s Tavern on June 25 at 8:30 p.m., where Young Ones will be playing with Cheeseburger, Bare Wires, and Camp Radio.

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