Yungblud talks “optimistic” new era for second album: “It’s like an episode of ‘Skins’!”
There are two particularly striking things about Yungblud’s new single, ‘Weird!’ Firstly, there’s the astonishing timing of the song. Originally penned late last year to encapsulate a particularly brutal era in his own life, the song’s title takes on a prescient meaning considering that it’s been released during, well, all of this.
Then there’s the music itself. Yungblud’s debut album ‘21st Century Liability’ cover sees him trapped in a straight-jacket with his trademark pink socks in cuffs. The boy wants to kick out at the world, but he’s being held back. Barely two years on, however, the Donacaster hero appears free. On the artwork for ‘Weird!’, he’s resplendent with bright blue and pink streaks in his jet-black hair as he offers up a bunch of flowers.
The song follows suit. There are hints of The 1975’s self-affirmation anthem ‘Give Yourself A Try’ as Dominic Harrison channels his energy into a previously-unheard optimism. Little wonder that it’s already been adopted as a rallying cry by The Black Hearts Club – his legion of fans.
Just hours after the second episode of The Yungblud Show was released – his isolation busting, all-singing, all-prancing chat show – the star speaks to NME from lockdown in his AirBnB in Los Angeles about the song, his upcoming new album and the time Sharon Osbourne called him a “little shit”.
What inspired ‘Weird!’, then?
“The past 18 months were so weird for me. I nearly lost my mum in a car accident. I was in a relationship and got my heart broken. We blew up and got famous really quickly. I suffered from depression and thought about suicide again. It felt like I was walking down the pavement but I felt like I was going to fall down the cracks. It’s just been a dark twisted, mental time. I thought that it was going to swallow me whole and I’d never be seen again – but I came out the other side of it.”
How did you get through it?
“That Brixton show put it all everything in perspective. 18 months before that I was in a council flat in Clapham with my guitarist and drummer watching videos of Kasabian playing Brixton Academy. When I remembered that, I realised that everything’s going to be fine. This song is a message to people to say that to feel weird and odd is part of life. I wanted this record to be naive and full of contradictions.”
It feels like a return to the early days – it feels like you’re telling your story again
“I wanted this song to be Dom talking about Dom’s life. I was crying when I was writing this song. I envisioned a couple in Fred Perry and Harringtons sharing headphones on the bus listening to this song. They’re sitting there and know that everything is going to be alright.”
Did that period of life change how you view the world?
“It’s a new era for me – it’s an era of optimism. I’m not angry anymore. The first album was so angry and leading into the EP [2019’s ‘The Underated Youth’] I got hopeful and now I feel optimistic. My ideology is the same, but from a different perspective. I’m surrounded by a lot of love, but before I felt like I was surrounded by a lot of pain.”
The artwork looks like your response to Tyler, The Creator’s – is this your ‘Flower Boy’ era?
“I was looking at that and The Rolling Stones and the era around ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ with all the facepaint and flowers and colour – I wanted to bring all of that into what we were doing.”
Tell us about the new album, then…
“The album is done and we’re going to start rolling it out. This is the first chess move of that era. There’s a lot of diversity on this one – it’s like an episode of Skins in an album. Since the beginning of time, humans have been so complex and like 15 different personalities at once – but we’re the first generation to accept it and know that it’s alright to be who you are.
“I think that’s what people didn’t get about me at first. People didn’t get that one day I could wear a dress and the next day look like Damon Albarn in a polo and then I wanna look like Johnny Depp in a suit. And then one day I’ll wanna play a hip-hop song and the next a metal and then punk. We are weird, but that’s a thing to be celebrated in my opinion.”
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What’s inspiring you right now?
“I was going for an LCD Soundsystem and Depeche Mode thing on ‘Weird!’. I wanted a naivety to the song because this is a coming of age record. But there’s been a lot of new wave stuff like Joy Division, The Radio Dept., Depeche Mode and The Cure. I met Robert Smith at the NME Awards and he said, ‘You’re from Doncaster, aren’t you?’ I was just like, ‘Fucking yes, Robert Smith has heard about me’.
“The album is a mix of emo-Dom, new-wave-Dom, metal-Dom, happy-Dom, sad-Dom and all over-the place-bonkers-mental-can’t-put-your-finger-on-him Dom. There’s a grunge banger that you can mosh your tits off to coming in a couple months.”
How has the lockdown get you feeling?
“Weirdly, I feel more connected to the fanbase than ever. But I’ve seen how awful it’s been for so many young people. All the people who were off to uni or a new school go into to a new chapter and now it’s been taken away. I can relate to that as we had all these great venues that we were looking forward to playing and that’s been taken away too. We just have to think outside the box and make the most out of what we’ve got right now. It’s forcing people to face issues and face things that they’ve suppressed for a long time – and the planet is healing both environmentally and on a humanity scale. We’ve neglected each other for so long – I think we might have a new perspective.”
Did you expect The Yungblud Show to be quite so popular?
“As long as I can put on a show of any fucking kind, that’s what’s important to me. We thought of it when we’d had our South American tour cancelled – I didn’t want that opportunity to connect with my fans taken away from me. What started as an idea in my bedroom ended in a studio with five cameramen 72 hours later and we ended up doing punk rock Jimmy Fallon. For the second one we couldn’t get together in person so we thought of new ideas and I asked some ‘celebrity’ friends to join us. In my team, we’re so young and driven, that no is never an option for us. The community fuels us to be better each time.”
How did you rope in Kelly Osbourne?
“I met her at Ozzy’s album launch. Which is kind of mental because I met the Osbournes at The Rainbow, sat next to Ozzy with a pizza – it was a total WTF moment. Sharon called me a little shit actually and I said, ‘You’re not wrong there’. Honestly, I don’t know what the fuck is going on. This is so surreal. This was not supposed to happen! I’m from Donny! I’m just tripping out all the time. But Dom’s still here – the world’s here, but I’m here to start the next phase. No matter how big this gets, I’ll still be Dom from Donny.”
Yungblud’s ‘Weird!’ is out now