LOUDER FEATURES: The Young Hearts Lyric Breakdown - 'Old Familiar'
They say a picture can paint a thousand words, yet it only takes one song to explore a myriad of emotional avenues. But how often do you get to take a deep-dive inside a songwriter's mind, and pull apart all the brushstrokes and flourishes that go into crafting a track? Well, now you can, thanks to Louder's new Lyric Breakdown series!
In this first edition, we spoke to Year of the Rat Records initiates, punk rockers The Young Hearts, to squeeze every ounce of meaning out of the lyrics to their upcoming single, 'Old Familiar'. Check out our chat here:
Who is the song addressed to? How do you feel about fans taking songs you write and applying them to situations in their own lives?
Over the last few years I have had some of my closest friends move away to pursue new avenues, meaning that we don’t get the opportunity to see each other very often. ‘Old Familiar’ is based on a number of conversations we’ve had, and addresses the importance of those relationships no matter the distance. I love the idea that anyone can listen to these songs and apply them to aspects of their own life, and hopefully get some sort of comfort or reassurance from it. Music has always been a kind of therapy for me, so the thought of my own songs having a positive impact on someone else is extremely heart warming.
When you write songs addressed to specific people, do you ever think about how they might feel when they hear them? Does it worry or excite you?
I usually try to write with a certain amount of ambiguity, so although they are personal experiences, I’ll use imagery, characterisation and metaphors to stop the stories behind the songs being so obvious. This also allows the songs to be more relatable to the listener. I don’t tend to worry about what people might think, and a lot of the time the songs are about people who aren’t necessarily in my life anymore, but with ‘Old Familiar’, the friends who inspired the song heard it and instantly knew it was about them. What’s more, they loved the song and have been pushing for it to be a single ever since.
This is a gorgeous image – what was the inspiration behind it? What does the image of ‘fire’ represent for you?
The ‘fire’ I’m talking about here, is the sense of hope and ambition we carry in our youth, that can seemingly get lost as we get older. We would forever be having conversations about leaving home and trying to achieve something. This lyric is what I really wanted to say when we’d catch up, instead of the usual, ‘How’s things?. It’s me asking ‘Is it everything we ever dreamed of?’
Do you find it therapeutic posing rhetoric questions in songs? Or do you wish you could get an answer to them sometimes?
A lot of the time I’m asking questions that I know there’s no definitive answer to, or that in my heart of hearts, I already know what the answer is, it’s more just an outlet for frustration. Writing songs has always been a way for me to vent and express myself so I guess it is my own form of therapy.
Do you share this sense of feeling constricted by your hometown or are you a natural home-bird? Does the nomadic life of a touring musician attract you, or is it a necessary evil to get your music heard? A bit of both?
Ten years ago, when I first started touring in bands, I’d have said yes absolutely, that whole ‘life on the road’ was all I ever dreamed of growing up. Unfortunately, you turn 30 and realise that at this level, you need to make so many sacrifices to keep living that life. Don’t get me wrong, when we’re on tour, I love every second, there’s no more enjoyable way to get your music out there, even in this day and age, but there is definitely a feeling of relief when you get home. I think feeling constricted by your home town is common for a lot of people, and it’s no different for me. There are so many ties, and you just create more and more as you get older. It only gets harder to entertain the idea of escaping, but it’s always there.
Is this quote something someone actually said to you? Are you generally quite a fearful person, or do you embrace this sentiment?
It’s not a direct quote, but it captures the feeling of how those nights would start, the nights where we’d forget our troubles and just have a good time. I’m not a fearful person but I tend to over think everything, and there’s no better cure for that than a Saturday night with your friends and a few drinks.
How do you feel about nostalgia and the past in general? Do you often indulge in the past or is it important to let what has gone before go?
I think I’ll always be someone that romanticises the past, whether it’s good or bad. Thirty years is a long time to be alive and I’ve got a lot of experience to draw from. Looking back, am I necessarily where I expected to be? No, not really, but re living those memories in my lyrics can give me a new perspective. I do think it’s important to remember everything you go through in life, it’s how we learn and how we can better ourselves.
As songwriting is a relatively restrictive medium through which to explore the complexity of emotions, do you enjoy having the opportunity to break down your own lyrics in this way? Or do you prefer to let the songs speak for themselves and be interpreted in different ways?
For me personally, the lyrics are probably the most important part of any good song. I will spend so much time writing and re-writing lyrics, so to have someone really take an interest in what I’m trying to say is worth the effort. Don’t get me wrong, I love that people interpret songs differently and relate to them in their own way, but when you put so much of yourself into something, it’s nice to see it doesn’t go unnoticed.
'Old Familiar' is due for release on the 25th of September- pre-save the single here:
Check out The Young Hearts' previous single, 'London', here: