The Mighty Young were inspired by the blues.
Now they are becoming an inspiration to others.
By others, we’re talking about tearful old men and very forward females.
By others, we’re talking about tearful old men and very forward females.
Secret Admirer shared some laughs with the trio at The Victoria in Birmingham.
Interview Date: 26/02/2012
BAND IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM
Joseph Gatsby – Vocals and guitar
Ash Jones – Bass
Röbb Cartin - Drums
Joseph Gatsby – Vocals and guitar
Ash Jones – Bass
Röbb Cartin - Drums
So do you want to get started?
Röbb Cartin: Yeah sounds good.
How did the band come together?
R.C: It’s long before I was around. The three of us have been playing together for a long time. Since we were kids, but in various incarnations of different bands. This band started off without me, these two guys and a couple of other guys as well…
Joseph Gatsby: There was four of us originally and then we lost the drummer. Not…he didn’t die, he left the band. We had another drummer then he left, then the other guitarist that was in the band at the time became the new drummer. Then Robb came on board and he went back to guitar and then he was gone. And now it’s this incarnation.
R.C: This is the longest particular incarnation this band has gone on for.
J.G: We suffer with the Spinal Tap…drummers just come and go. Hopefully Robb won’t.
R.C: I’m sticking around. I very nearly went to live on a Disney cruise ship as a barman. But I stayed here because of…lots of reasons but because of the band as well. Didn’t want to lose this.
You could of taken the band to the cruise ship maybe?
R.C: We’re not a very Disney friendly band.
Ash Jones: Just a few tunes here and there…
What were the other bands you were in?
R.C: There is like five isn’t there? We should stress that none of these bands ever made it to play a gig. I think we played one gig.
J.G: I think the first gig we ever played was in a church hall. We played two tunes I think. We played ‘Lisa Says’ by The Velvet Underground and that one we wrote.
R.C: It was either called ‘Fire At The Poppadom Factory’ or ‘Tranny On The Dancefloor’. It was called one of those two things. Which band was that though?
J.G: I swear it was at Rose Pavilion.
R.C: Yeah but which band were we in?
J.G: The Camaro Rouge.
R.C: It was either The Pill Hat, The Camaro Rouge, The Coinage…
A.J: It was The Coinage.
R.C: Was it The Coinage? We were kids! But none of these things ever went anywhere. And I think you were the one who left, originally.
J.G: And he went to go play heavy metal.
R.C: He grew his hair down to his arse and joined a heavy metal band.
No way! That’s crazy.
R.C: It was brilliant.
A.J: It was comedy metal at its best.
R.C: They used to cover the Power Rangers theme tune.
A.J: I always wanted to do Power Puff Girls as well. Everyone thought it was a bit too…
R.C: The important thing to remember is that we’ve all been mates for ages and all our friends are musicians and we all jam around. We’re really luck in where the guys live, I don’t live with them, but where these guys live we’ve got the studio built on the bottom floor. It’s on the canal network. It’s completely isolated, in the middle of nowhere. No neighbours for miles so if it’s 4am and we get struck for inspiration when we’re drunk…sometimes that’s how a song is born.
J.G: That’s when the magic happens.
R.C: It’s aptly named: The Rutting Devil And Devil. That’s the name of their home and studio.
What’s the idea behind the name The Mighty Young, why did you choose that one?
R.C: He’s Joe…
J.G: It was a film Mighty Joe And The Young.
R.C: Mighty Joe Young.
J.G: Well our old guitar player came up with it. And he wanted it to be called Joe And The Mighty Young but I didn’t really like the idea of announcing: ‘Hello, I’m Joe and we are Joe And The Mighty Young’.
So you chopped the ‘Joe’ off.
J.G: Yeah, we’re just The Mighty Young. It’s kind of an ironic name I think because a lot of the music we play is quite influenced by a lot of old men. You know, old men with guitars.
R.C: We should be The Weedy Old.
J.G: But then again the way we write songs, it’s always been quite, you know…not juvenile but real simple, a few chords kind of thing. So there’s nothing complicated or grown up about the way we write tunes.
R.C: We’ve probably just gone there from the least productive band practice we’ve had. We literally all got up, turned up and nothing happened but it ended up being a laugh because we just sat and jammed for an hour and a half. We actually got half way through practicing one of our tunes and we were just like: ‘do we have to do this? Let’s just have a dick around’.
What is it about garage rock and the blues that inspires you to recreate it?
R.C: It was a seed planted in me definitely through knowing Joe. It’s been a passion of his for years.
J.G: Yeah I dunno. I’ve always liked quite raw, human sounding music. I mean it’s quite primal, a lot of that sort of stuff. You can hear everything going on and all the emotions and my dad always said to me, when I first started playing guitar; if you want to get a style that’s very much your own start with the blues and it’ll all come from that. Because most modern guitar music comes one way or another from blues music. And then I ended up hooked on blues music, wasn’t fussed about trying anything else really.
R.C: I think as well that it’s kind of making a point because for two reasons. A lot of music press is talking about the death of guitar music, which I can’t see. I think it’s spin, I don’t think it’s happening. At the same time, there is so much swill coming out of the music industry. I wouldn’t say we are trying to combat it but we are trying to do something that still sounds like music and not something that’s just lazy really.
J.G: We can be lazy though, sometimes.
R.C: We are lazy. (Laughs) Not when we are playing.
Do you think Birmingham music fans like your kind of music?
J.G: The musical history of Birmingham is a lot of Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, all that kind of stuff. They are all quite guitar based.
R.C: It’s the official home of metal now.
J.G: Is it?
R.C: It’s been classed, Birmingham is the home of metal.
J.G: Did Birmingham come up with it? There’s a lot of metal in Birmingham though I suppose. In this day and age, everyone likes everything. You can go anywhere and you can find any kind of music you want to listen to. Well there’s the ColdRice scene isn’t there, I forgot about that.
R.C: They are doing great things to be fair.
J.G: There’s all that sort of garage rock going on in the underbelly.
R.C: It still, to me, doesn’t feel like there is any sort of scene. Not that there needs to be really. People always say there’s a scene in London and I go to London a fair bit but I can’t see it there either. There’s that much music that…
“She came back to me and she went: ‘by the way, next time you play ‘Foxy Lady’, imagine you are having phone sex to me whilst you are playing it’. Which I thought was a bit…very forward” – Joseph Gatsby
There’s almost too much.
R.C: Yeah too much. Exactly. There’s all these different genres popping up. What was the one we were talking about the other day? Chillwave…it’s this new thing that has come out. What is that? (Laughs) I don’t understand it. There’s just so many genres and subgenres kicking around now that I think it’s impossible for a big scene to be mustered up. Like you said, everyone likes everything.
J.G: I don’t know how a scene can kind of grow now, there’s too much noise.
Are there any local bands you like?
J.G: I like Cedar House Band.
R.C: Yeah we played with them once. We see them from time to time.
J.G: They put on an amazing show.
R.C: Yeah, they give it when they play. There’s a mate of ours in a band, a band called Jester. We seem to just play with them every other gig. They don’t really play the sort of music we play, it’s kind of a bit more alternative rock. But they have been really good to us in getting us gigs and putting us on with them. Our local home venue, The RoadHouse, it’s right next to where the lads live so it’s really easy to just stumble home and carry the equipment back.
J.G: God Damn, have you heard of them? They’re good.
R.C: We played with them at The RoadHouse. They’re kind of like, really suprising. It’s two guitars and a bass player. They use octave pedals. It’s really cool.
J.G: The front man is really good, it’s this guy who’s got a strange wailing voice.
R.C: His voice, to me, sounds like the guy from Death From Above 1979. The band doesn’t sound like them but when they stand on stage, you weigh them up in your head and decide what they are going to sound like then they play and they are something completely different.
A.J: Who’s that band we played with at that Irish stag-do?
R.C: Oh! Velvet Texas Cannonball. They play with this huge keyboard set up with a big whirring thing. It takes up half a pub! That was pretty cool, but yeah we are playing with them again in a couple of weeks.
J.G: It took them about half an hour to get it in there and re-construct it. By that time…there was a kid asleep remember?
R.C: Where was it?
J.G: The Spotted Dog.
R.C: Yeah The Spotted Dog in Digbeth. We turned up and there was about four acts on and there was this Irish stag do; about twenty drunk Irish guys who had turned up. These first two guys came on, I think they were finding it really difficult, it was just two guys and acoustic guitars.
J.G: They kept grabbing the mic of them!
R.C: They were all just pissed up, ripping them a new one. Then we got on and people sort of just shut up and listened. That was kind of good. It was just a really interesting crowd.
J.G: The best bit of that was, I think he was Swedish or Icelandic or something like that but he came up to me after the show and said: ‘I really like your band, have you heard of this band? They’re from Liverpool, they’re called The Beatles!’. I was like: yeah, I’ve heard of The Beatles. And then he said: ‘Oh well they all have similar hair-cuts and same suite wearing, you should try something like that with your band, you know, get like a theme.’ So I was like: yeah, I’ll check them out. (Laughs)
How did your first gig go as a band?
J.G: Really drunk. I don’t really like to drink too much before I go on but it was at The Adam & Eve.
R.C: Was I there? Nah, I wasn’t playing then.
J.G: Actually, the thing I remember most about that gig is we’d finished playing and then our mates were shouting: ‘more, give us another one!’. Then we were messing around with, what’s that Beatles tune? (Attempts to sing the riff) Ding, ding, dingding…
Is that ‘Day Tripper’ ?
J.G: Nah, erm…’Don’t Let Me Down’. Yah, we played that then my memory, possibly my favourite memory of playing with these: this massive old guy who had been sitting at the back all the way through looking moody, we kicked that song up and he stood up and there’s tears in his eyes and he just waded through everyone and he just went ‘yes!’ and was singing all the words. I hardly knew all the words at the time so he was…
Just give the mic to him.
J.G: Yeah, these tears just like, shining in his eyes. And I looked at my brother, because my brother was going like this, pointing to him.
R.C: I suppose that’s what Birmingham is good for, just the drunk weirdos you meet at gigs. Yeah, they are great.
A.J: We must of done a terrible rendition of it, I didn’t know a single note.
J.G: We only knew half the tune.
A.J: I was just watching his fingers and trying to copy and stuff like that.
What has your favourite show been so far?
R.C: Probably that last one we played. The one that you were at, loved. Really enjoyed it. We hadn’t played together in a week and we were really expecting the crowd to just tear us apart because although we had a fair few people of our own coming, the other two bands didn’t sound a thing like us. Whereas they were quite similar together, we couldn’t be more far removed. We were expecting the people who had come to see them to just phase out but they all seemed to get on board and really enjoy it you know. You can feel it when we are all enjoying it and sometimes we’re not, sometimes we’re playing and we can’t wait to get off.
J.G: That was like playing the Sunflower Lounge. We’re going there on Friday again to play there. I like really small rooms anyway. Really small, sweaty rooms are always good. I think it suites the sound of our music.
What’s the strangest thing someone has said to you about your band at a gig?
J.G: (Laughs) Remember that girl? That’s gotta be the one. We used to play ‘Foxy Lady’ as part of our set. We played a pub in Selly Oak once and we got off stage and this girl came up to me and I was talking to my dad at the time and she lent in real close to me and she went: ‘come over here’. Then she took me to one side and said something along the lines of ‘if you want me right now, then we can go downstairs and you can have me’. I’ve got a girlfriend and what not and I was kind of like: ‘thank you, but I’m not sure about this’. I just sent her on her way but she came back to me and she went: ‘by the way, next time you play ‘Foxy Lady’, imagine you are having phone sex to me whilst you are playing it’. Which I thought was a bit…very forward.
A.J: It was just the choice of like, phone sex.
R.C: (Laughs) Don’t imagine you are actually fucking me…
J.G: Just talk about it. (Laughs) She said: ‘I think it’ll improve your performance’ or something like that. Yeah, that was weird.
Do you get quite a few creepy fans then?
R.C: I think in the nature of the music we play, it attracts an older audience. The people who stick around and watch us play are kind of old men who have got day jobs as car park attendants and stuff and have just come for a pint of ale on the night. And because they hear something that they used to like in the 70s or whatever they kind of stick around and so they are the ones who come up after a gig and go: ‘I really enjoyed that’. And that’s great if all of our fans are kind of sixty year old blokes, I’d be over the moon!
J.G: I think I’d disagree, I think I would like to have the whole spectrum of ages coming to see us. I mean we get a lot of bands, people who are in bands that come up to us and go: ‘we play similar stuff to that’. We get a lot of talk on the way I play guitar or the way Robb plays drums.
R.C: Always comparing us to people, aren’t they? You sound like this, you sound like that…
J.G: We get all sorts, like: ‘you sound like Oasis’.
R.C: Fuck off! (Laughs)
J.G: Oasis, The Doors…all sorts of stuff.
R.C: The consistent one that comes up, when people talk to me at least, is The White Stripes. Which is great.
That’s not a bad thing. What gigs have you got coming up?
R.C: We’re playing the Sunflower Lounge this Friday. I think it’s that…the guys from Cedar House Band have sorted that?
J.G: No, it’s that Killer Wave gig. Coronation Gypsies are playing and Black Shark.
R.C: That’s going to be a good night because not only is the Sunflower Lounge good, there are three other bands on that are similar to us which always goes for a good gig. We’re playing the Hare and Hounds on the 8th March. I’ve never played the Hare and Hounds, these guys have. I’m really looking forward to it. Then we are headlining The Flapper on the 24th.
J.G: We’re also supporting a Jimi Hendrex cover band for a while in the summer for a bit of fun.
R.C: They’ve actually asked for us which is good.
Maybe the phone-sex girl will be there.
R.C: Here’s hoping! You are going to lose out to the Jimi look-a-like.
J.G: Yeah but he’s not left handed though. I am!
R.C: But he’s black and you’re not! He’d be way awesome at phone-sex.
J.G: He’s got the voice probably. I can’t imagine me mumbling down the phone to her. Wouldn’t work. Wouldn’t be sexy at all.
What about recordings? Have you got any plans to release anything?
R.C: We are in the process, sort of thing.
J.G: I do a lot of recording in my bedroom because there is nothing in there. It’s this big old empty room and it sounds really cool in there. We do a lot of vocals in there.
R.C: I’ve recorded my drums and I’m leaving them to it. They make the magic happen.
J.G: It’s that phrase again!
R.C: But it is magic! (Laughs)
Thanks for your time guys!
R.C: Absolutely man. Thanks for coming to meet us.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JACK PARKER