Stephen Pennell ©
Individually they are Oli, Liam, Rob and TJ, four top lads from Birmingham. Collectively, they are Y!KES, a musical juggernaut careering around Britain, dangerously overloaded with an explosive cargo of attitude and rebellion. New single God Mode is a perfect snapshot of their current worldview, the throaty and impassioned vocals of frontman Oli underpinned by a blitzkrieg of blistering rock and roll that drills mercilessly into your eardrums. We sent Stephen Pennell to ask how are you and WTF?
We’re all dandy my friend, just four fine young men about to take over the world. The new one is the first of many this year, me and Liam got tired of nearly creating a suicide pact in our home studios, so we decided to let the wise Jim Pinder steer the production this time and came away from Chesterfield with an arsenal full of nuclear weapons. We were also a bit tired of coming up with some kind of gimmick to please the social media gate keepers, so we thought fuck it, let’s just film our tour that we’re on and see what happens.
Great track, I love it. Why Chesterfield?
Thank you, means a lot. That’s where the studio is, Treehouse it’s called and furthermore the musical home to Jim and also Carl Bown. Crazy place, they gutted a church and somehow turned what can only be described as an industrial unit into a place of worship. On the outside it looks like there’s a grow on, then when you get inside it looks like the Pope is gonna slide past in his slippers.
Haha, sounds like a good concept for the video, but instead you used live footage from your travels. How did the tour go?
Anything’s a good concept for a video if you don’t take things too seriously you know, but the Pope in a grow house could ruffle some feathers. I don’t know, maybe he could be growing the holy herb, a direct line of heritage from the first strain Jesus smoked and we’re trying to steal it? The tour was somewhat biblical in itself, instead of donkeys though we had a van. I know the first show was Glasgow and then after that things get a bit vague, but all in all I would say a successful business trip for the band.
I feel like Y!KES are the flag bearers of that huge sound the West Mids is so good at - Led Zep, Sabbath, Slade. Do you take that as a compliment?
Of course! There’s something that brews out of this murky concrete jungle that we call Birmingham from time to time. Something really really big. I think it’s that time again too you know.
Are Y!KES carrying the torch for the spirit of rock and roll?
To be honest with you I feel like an ancient relic. I’ve got us banned from a few venues up and down the country for being a bit out there and countless negative reviews for what to me is pretty rock and roll. You know I got into this under the assumption that I could find a home in music and that it’s the place where lunatics can lay their heads. But today it’s the same old watered down fucking “so so happy to see you all” nicey nicey bollocks, with backing track, everyone looks the same and every fucking single movement rehearsed. No room for any magic and that for me is why Y!KES will be revered as the most important band of all time. It may even be when we’re dead too, but we’re out here with our heads in the the road in full wizard garments, welcoming the new wave square driven cars that think they’re not square to smash us to pieces! With our torches firmly grasped. That’s what rock n roll means to me, pain, passion, bravery, magic, sacrifice, expression and if you’ve got all that then the tunes write themselves. Rock and roll is an energy and the Y!KES cup overflows my friend, you know? I do worry sometimes that people don’t understand and see us as more of a spectacle, but this is the best band in the world right now already and people should stop sleeping on it.
Well I’m definitely wide awake to it! Is there anything you’re particularly proud of from last year?
As it happens Stephen yes, you honoured us greatly with the write up you gave us in your book “King City”. Which may I add is a beautifully insightful look at the Birmingham music scene. We have been so busy that we haven’t already displayed our gratitude for immortalising us like that. So humour me, Thank you from the bottom of our hearts, we are forever in debt. Now to everyone else reading this, GET TO OUR NEXT FUCKING SHOW! I don’t care if it’s in Timbuktu I expect to see you.
God Mode has already bludgeoned its way onto some massive Spotify and Apple playlists - don’t be the one to miss out!