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by Stephen Pennell ©

If you like Radiohead, Nirvana and The Stereophonics, you’ll LOVE Y!kes. Hell, I’m not particularly mad on any of those bands, but I STILL love Y!kes. And I’m in good company. Alex Noble of BBC Introducing found them “captivating, a fantastic live band”, while Discovered Magazine were even more fulsome in their praise, predicting them to be “one of the biggest rising stars of the 2020s, ready to dominate online and in the charts; around the UK and far beyond.”

New single Just Me is the latest chapter in their story. Featuring post-hardcore Emo legend Geoff Rickly from the band Thursday, the song combines relaxed yet grungy melodies with throbbing choruses and a haunting promo video that perfectly summarises the times we’re living in.

Having already interviewed vocalist Oli Long a couple of times, this time I spoke to lead guitarist Liam Howard to find out more.

So what’s Just Me all about then? The video looks even more post-apocalyptic than usual?

Just Me was written way before the pandemic started. There's a discomforting sense of irony in there, the mental feeling of isolation in Oli's lyrics grew into a physical isolation, not just for us but the entire world. So when we came to make the video, the starting block was no full band stuff, let’s see how far we can stretch a narrative purely based on just Oli being himself. When we came to film it, Birmingham was foggy and empty. All the clubs we love being in and venues we love playing were shut down, not a soul in sight. And then it just started writing and filming itself. We accidentally made a post-apocalyptic video, using reality as its landscape.

Oh my days! Y!kes started the pandemic by writing a song! I always knew there was something dodgy about you.

The hazmat suit and nurses outfit aren't a recent fashion statement. We were wearing them before they were popular.

Getting Geoff Rickly involved is quite a coup.

Geoff is a genuine Emo legend. As well as being the singer in Thursday, he produced the first My Chemical Romance album, so he's a huge hero of mine. I met him at a Taking Back Sunday gig in the pre-apocalyptic world and mentioned the band. He loved the name so I sent a follow up email just to see what he thought of our newer stuff and he got about it all, combed through all the songs and gave some solid advice. We bounced mixes back and forth and Geoff became a sort of production advisor and spiritual guru for these new tunes we were producing. He took a particular shine to Just Me so Oli just said if you like it so much, do you wanna be on it? I thought nah, no way is he gonna be down, but the dude sends us the files back an hour later and it just fitted in the mix perfectly. His harmonies at the end were like this angelic choir that lifted the whole thing. It was a real special moment and really humbling to have him on one of our records. Top bloke.

I bet you can’t wait to play it live.

We are climbing the walls to get back on those stages. We miss the chaos, the volume, the sticky floors, the adrenaline. The sense of not knowing or caring what on earth is happening and loving every single moment of it. However, coming outta lockdown, our fan base has octupled, we’re booked for more tours and festivals than we ever imagined at this stage. The bands who have grafted throughout this pandemic and not let it beat them out of the game are gonna come back bigger and stronger than ever. We certainly feel like we’ve used this miserable time as positively and productively as we can, and we can’t wait to be with you all again. Also, watch out for our new bass player Rob when we’re back on those stages. The guy’s a funk machine.

Great answer mate, you can come and write for us if it all goes wrong. I’m glad we went behind Oli’s back now. But seriously, it’s fantastic to hear about the band’s growth.

Oh mate, it's been nuts. Before lockdown, we had two festivals booked and zero tours. Now we've got festivals and tours flying in all over the place from June onwards, which are a little top secret for now but will be announced very soon. Then fanwise it's just blown up because of the content/music we've been putting out. The digital world has been a powerful ally, no way were we gonna just sit back and do nothing because we can't play. Gotta create opportunity even when everything sucks.

Don’t forget me when you’re millionaires!

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