Following their recent run with rock boys You Me At Six, Cheltenham group Young Kato hit the road on their first headline tour ahead of their debut album release later this year. I caught up with singer Tommy Wright to talk tour, recording and Made in Chelsea.
Ahead of their tour, excitement is definitely in the air. “These are places that we haven’t been before – I think we’ve possibly been to Oxford before, Cardiff and Glasgow – so it’s gonna be exciting going to places like Cambridge and Norwich and that,” Tommy gushed. Despite this excitement, the idea of a Young Kato headline tour is something that daunts the band. “You never know who’s gonna turn up!”
Displaying a greatly positive outlook, Tommy went on to explain the band’s ethos: “Our kind of view on everything is that it doesn’t matter if, like, two people walk through the door or two hundred. They’ve all paid their money to see our band, so we’ll be playing the same show with the same 100% amount of effort.” Young Kato are due to receive support from Pixel Fix, good friends of the band.
Having recently spent time in the sun demoing and working on new material, Tommy is conscious that tour prep is also important. “We’re demoing and recording new songs and stuff. But in the back of our minds, we know we need to get into the band room, thrash out the headline set and make sure that it’s still as tight as it ever has been. I mean, because we’ve played so many gigs before, we have a certain set we’re gonna play live and stuff – maybe fiddle it around a little bit for the fans that have seen us before. But yeah, I think we’re very prepared.”
The group is viewing their tour as a major chance to play new songs to new people. Their debut album has almost finished being recorded at The Strongrooms Studio, East London. They are working alongside the producer Dan Grech-Marguerat who has previously helped the likes of The Vaccines, Beck, Lana Del Rey and Tom Odell. Fans can expect to hear some of these album tracks at the live shows. “There’ll be new songs, ones on the album that people may not have heard,” Tommy explained.
“We’ve completely stepped up as a band over the last year. Musically, sonically, everything about us has stepped up in terms of the production as well.” This musical development is something that the band is clearly excited about: “We’re really looking forward to showing that off! Hopefully next time they see us, we’ll be better again.
“We’ve had the opportunity to kind of rip the songs apart, songs that we’ve been playing for two, three years. We’ve just completely rebuilt them to make them better. It’s helped us as a band massively – we’ve lost a few things that we never needed there, and added some things that we did need.”
This self-reflective journey has enabled the band to feel more comfortable approaching different types of song. “We can tell already, from the last two singles we released, that the album’s gonna be quite varied in its approach,” Tommy teased. “‘Drink, Dance, Play’ is like this big, euphoric song. Then we’ve got ‘Help Yourself’, which is something slightly more mature and guitar driven. There’s light and dark, and happy and sad [in the album], so I definitely think it’ll surprise a few people. It’ll be maybe more mature than people would have expected.”
Although this is the band’s first headline tour, Young Kato have already had the chance to play around some of the biggest names of their genre. Their festival billings so far have also hosted the likes of Bastille and We Are Scientists, as well as joining indie boys Spector for a Ray-Ban event. “That was really cool,” Tommy reminisced. “We all got given a dodgy pair of Ray-Bans to wear.”
More recently, Young Kato have emerged from a nationwide tour with rockers You Me At Six and fellow support Don Broco. “They’re on BMG, the same label as us,” explained the Young Kato frontman. “It was an amazing experience. We got on with everyone so well; the boys at You Me At Six are really grounded. They’re really nice guys to hang around with. Most importantly, it was nice to get our music out there to thousands of people every night – that’s all we care about.”
Supporting on a bigger band’s tour always runs the risk of failing to please the crowd, but this appears not to have been the case for the six-piece. “I think we complemented You Me At Six’s pop side. I know they and Don Broco are slightly heavier and rockier than us. We won a lot of people over though. I think a lot of people came to the gig not knowing what to expect, but then coming away a Young Kato fan.”
It’s through the reality show Made in Chelsea that Young Kato got their “break”. Having been played on the soundtrack for the show’s fourth season, the band had already made their mark before their live season five debut. “Our manager rang us up, and was like: ‘You wanna be on this show?’, and we were like: ‘Sweet!’” Tommy laughed. “The long story of it was that the music producer, Andrea, picked up our EP online and played our songs in the background a few times. Made in Chelsea approached her, said they wanted a band for the first episode of the new series. Luckily for us, she picked us up first!” The importance of this chance is not lost on the band. “We’re just really lucky and grateful that she wanted to give us a perch. I think we were the smallest band that she was playing on the show, so it worked out great for us!”
At a time when reality shows are growing in size and influence, the emergence of Young Kato from the depths of staged drama and petty squabbles marks a change in the music scene, and shows a new platform by which talent may be discovered. “It’s really hard for bands to get on telly and play live. I know Top of the Pops was mimed a little bit, but there are no real bands that are showcased anymore on TV at primetime. We were lucky in that no reality TV has [featured a live small band] before, so it was just weird that one of the biggest shows at the moment invited us to play – obviously we couldn’t say no!”
Following their performance, the band also experienced the influence social media can have on emerging talent, with their band name trending on Twitter. “Social media’s become a massive part of the music industry as a whole,” Tommy reflected. “Things like ‘likes’, ‘follows’ and ‘retweets’ are becoming more important to people. It’s a shame, because it feels like we’ve given ourselves – the music industry – another thing to worry about, and to compare sales to. It can only help our band though. People can get themselves immersed in the band, and follow us on Twitter – sort of follow us about to see what we’re like. I think that’s a good thing overall.”
This summer, fans can follow Young Kato as they embrace their first festival season as a band, with BST Hyde Park, Strawberry Fields and Wakestock just three of the festivals lined up for the band so far. “We’re really looking forward to [BST Hyde Park]. The line up’s really poppy and stuff, so that’ll be fun! We’ve played one off festivals here and there, but this year, hopefully, we’ll have loads. We’ll be busy every day, and that’s what we want really!” Young Kato will join the likes of Motorhead, McBusted, The Pogues and the newly reunited Libertines at BST Hyde Park.