Interview: The Yours

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As they prepare to launch their new album, Teenagarten, revered Hong Kong alt-rockers The Yours tell Mark Tjhung about their commitment to simplicity and youth

Ever since their emergence in 2005, The Yours’ mélange of post-punk, shoegaze and noise pop, combined with an ever-cool irreverence, has had them hailed as one of Hong Kong’s top indie rock talents. And while their promise went somewhat unfulfilled in the initial years of their existence, largely due to lineup changes, the last few years – particularly since the release of their joyfully sunny debut LP, The Way We Were, in 2012, with the settled lineup of Jack Leung, Nic Wong, Tim Ng and Gwyneth Tang – has seen The Yours find a wider, popular resonance, both in Hong Kong and overseas. Ahead of the release of their new album, Teenagarten, a much darker, heavier offering than their debut, Time Out speaks to the band about keeping it simple and continuing to find inspiration in youth culture.

On the last album, The Way We Were, we definitely saw your poppier side. But Teenagarten seems a bit darker…
Wong: Right after the release of The Way We Were two years ago, we had an idea of writing a follow-up EP. In fact, we almost completed the EP and it was even more poppier and sunnier than the album. At the same time, we wrote a few aggressive tunes as well. So there’s two groups of songs that sound completely opposite and we were kinda stuck. We thought we had to make a choice, so we played them live and the heavier tunes really got us going and we just weren’t feeling the pop ones. So eventually we buried the EP and decided to continue working on the heavier songs, which later became Teenagarten.



Teenagarten seems to be a reference to teen angst and the like – why did you guys want to focus on that in particular, in this album?
Leung: Youth culture has always been our biggest inspiration. Even though our music seems to vary quite often, it’s the only thing that remains. Forget about shoegaze, post-punk, noise pop or whatever. If you ask me what kind of music we play, I’d say we play teenage music. Whether it’s Abraham, The Way We Were or Teenagarten (Teenagers + Kindergarten, obviously), it’s all about teenagers, simple as that. Some may find our music too simple, that’s fine for us. We are not interested in music that’s sophisticated, technical or arty – that’s for adults.

Interestingly though, the last few songs of Teenagarten are a little more complex – like Death Rat and Spunk. Tell me about those tracks and that slight shift at the end of the album.

Wong: It’s true. Most of the songs are very straightforward. And relatively, some of them do involve a little bit more complex rhythms and structures. We were just doing that for fun and were curious about how far we could go.

Are those tracks at all a hint at the direction for the future?
Leung: We have some new material ready and I can tell you there isn’t a whole lot of changes, so far. The Yours are very much about simplicity and I guess we will continue with that direction. But it’s like an evolution, so who knows what’s gonna happen?



You recorded this album with Yang Haisong of PK14 – what did he bring to the process and to your sound?
Leung: Yang Haisong has a pretty lo-fi approach when it comes to recording. Guitars straight into vintage amplifiers, almost no overdubs involved. All the instruments were recorded live, leaving room for accidents and chaos. Making a heavily processed, ‘perfect’ sounding record is no trick, but that’s not we wanted and we’re sure that Yang Haisong wouldn’t be interested in recording a lifeless record. We wanna make a record with personality and he was the perfect fit.

You toured around China last year – how was the touring experience and what was the response like?
Ng: We did a tour last year, playing in cities like Kunming, Changsha and Qingdao. It was amazing to play in cities we’ve never been to and the response from the crowd was just awesome. Like we said before, at one point we couldn’t decide what was next for us but we finally figured it out after lots of trials and errors during the tour. It was sort of like a turning point for us.

So, what do you have planned after the launch?

Ng: We will be touring around China, Taiwan and probably some other places later this year. [And then] the third album, no doubt about it. Hopefully, it’ll be out early next year. And at the same time, each of us will have our own solo project. Jack’s is called Heavy Mental House and Nic’s is called Volume Fall.

The Yours
Hidden Agenda, Sat Jul 19. Tickets: $180 (door only); the-yours.com.

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