Introduce yourselves and tell us a little about your music past
Rory: Well Youth Illusion is Zach Almond on Guitar and lead vocals, Rory Deans on Bass and vocals, and Brandon Greenaway on Drums and vocals. I used to play in bands from the age of like 14 in South Africa before moving to the UK in 2003; last band was in 2006 when I played for One Man Down in Birmingham – I have dabbled in management since then. Met these guys earlier in the year.
Zach: I grew up in Waco Texas and most of my influences came from classic rock and even church music, choirs and lots of harmonies. The last band I played in was in Australia called We Are Servants and that was about 2 years ago.
Brandon: I have been drumming professionally since I was 16. I teach, I run a studio, and I do session work for various bands.
How does having members from different countries influence your music?
Zach: Being from Texas, I find that my influence is probably the most obvious. Being from the South I think naturally, I just bring a bit of a southern flair and twang to the songs. Growing up it was all about writing music that people could dance to.
Rory: There isn’t much of an African vibe that I can bring to a punk rock band coz we grew up listening to all the American bands anyways and trying to emulate them as that’s what was big to us.
Why the name Youth Illusion?
Rory: There is a funny story behind the name. When we first started out there were a few names being thrown around and I think Zach suggested Youth Illusion. I said that the name fits perfectly because I am 21…. And have been for about 13 years now!
Talk us through the track “Enemy”. Whats the meaning behind the lyrics, the song, and what was the writing and recording process like for you guys?
Zach: Enemy is probably one of my favourite songs I have ever written. At the time I wrote it I was in the middle of a painful and long, drawn out break up with a person I had been with for years. It was just a toxic relationship and I felt constantly like I was just the bad guy all the time and every time I walked into my own house I was just the enemy. I tried to reason with it and tried to do everything in my power to make this person happy and it was just never enough.
Once I finally left that relationship I just realised that I was stuck with someone who was just a toxic person and just wanted to bring me down and that song is just a reflection of the entire relationship – she never said she was sorry, she never took the time to think about what she was doing to me and to the relationship. And I honestly believed she always hated me and that’s pretty much the chorus.
The recording process was difficult because I hadn’t really shown the guys the song as it was such a personal song to me. We recorded it and I remember recording the vocals and having tears well up as I was singing the chorus because you know, those years of hurt and sadness just came out in that session. But yeah, its my absolute favourite song.
What do you love about writing and recording?
Brandon: At the moment we are recording, or just finished recording our debut EP with James Curtis-Thomas at Essex Recording Studios. Both James and Keith (Owner of Essex Recording Studios) are just amazing people and James is like the extra member of our band – he gets exactly what we are trying to sound like and knows what we should do to make us sound as good as we can. Before everything was recorded, the songs are just “our songs” coz its only us 3 that have heard them in rehearsals; once they’ve been recorded to a super high standard they are then ready to be delivered and they are “everyones songs” so its just been good to get them done to the highest possible standard.
And what do you hate?
Rory: The worst thing about recording is how obvious mistakes are and how exposed you are; it really highlights where you are as a musician and what you need to work on. It really exposes flaws.
Brandon: It’s just annoying that it takes longer than you want it to. After you’ve recorded the first part and are happy with it, its like “ok that felt good, I am happy, can we release it now?” (laughs). Its like, “nah, we still have like 12 layers of vocals, 100 more guitars, redo the drums” …. Its like, I JUST WANNA GET IT OUT NOW!
Zach: I think the hardest part is when you bring an idea that’s pretty intimate to you, into a room full of people, and it just gets picked apart – that’s hard as a songwriter. And I especially hate recording vocals, WITH A PASSION! It makes me realise how lazy I am as a vocalist in not articulating my words (Laughs)
Brandon: Also when you go into the studio and you have the songs and know how you want them to sound, how you think they should sound and like, you’ve played them over in your head a million times, and go to lay the parts down and….
Rory: Someone tells you they’re shit!
Brandon:… and then James (Producer) says you should do it like this and it will sound better.. but then its not my part? But he knows what he is on about and all of the changes hes said to make have made it a hundred times better!
What have you learned since starting this band and how are you trying to ensure you don’t slip between the cracks and become another band that never really makes an impact?
Rory: We are trying to do things at a pace that suits us; we aren’t rushing so that we can ensure that what we put out there and put real drive behind, is something we are proud of and represents us in the way we want to be seen. We did the 2 demos of Enemy and Better Off so that we had something that we could point people toward and its helped us get shows and has added to interest in us behind the scenes but we didn’t want to gig and record for the sake of it or because that’s what all bands do. We are happy to take our time and make sure that when we do put ourselves out there properly, we make the right first impression. Every show we have done so far has been for a future benefit and to line up something bigger for when we feel we are going to be making a real push. We did the Pile Up Winter Warm Up show to ensure our names are in the hat for the Pile Up Festivals next year – we are playing at The Monarch in Camden on 13 November as an audition of sorts for Camden Rocks Festival as we are desperate to be a part of Camden Rocks 2019, so we have been very selective in what we have done and who we want to see us up till now.
Another thing we are very lucky to have is a front man in Zach; he has the most infectious character and amazing way about him that draws people in. He is very good at networking, like we all are, we spend a lot of time on social media linking up with people and trying to be as approachable as possible. We are very conscious of where we are and what level we are at, we aren’t going to act better or be on a pedestal for anybody.
Brandon: We are very unique as a band as we have a front man from Texas, a Bassist who grew up in the punk scene in South Africa, and a drummer who is mainly a metal drummer and all of our individual influences have come together to create this product and you can tell from the music that it isn’t just 1 of us, it is all of our ideas that have come together to create the best band in the world…. With sprinkles on top!
What is the most important thing a band of your size should be doing to ensure you develop and grow?
Rory: I think as we mentioned before, with Zachs character and his ability to get along with people definitely helps a band of our size. We also go out of our way to engage with anyone who makes contact with us – when we are playing a show, we like to interact with anyone who is there even if they are not there for us – we send Zach in to break the ice -, we like to meet all the bands we play with and find out what they are up to and if there are an future opportunities to play together – next month we are actually all going to see Elessar who we met at the Pile Up show and got along with really well so that will be cool – we also like to ensure that the bigger bands know us and who we are by the end of the night because you never know when your band might be mentioned again or what opportunities they could lead to.
You have a South African Tour coming up next year; how did that happen and what is the scene like over there for live music in general?
Rory: I was planning on going home to see my family anyway and it was all planned before Brandon joined the band. Zach was going to be coming as well so he could see the country and meet my family and all that; but when Brandon joined the band he was like “Im coming too and we are gonna tour it!” and it just went from there. We are still in the process of booking the shows; we are looking to play an amazing festival up in the Drakensburg mountains called Splashy Fen which is a festival I grew up attending and playing it will tick off a massive bucket list item for me.
The scene over there is really really good to be honest; baring in mind I have been in the UK over 15 years now but from what I remember it is very dispersed geographically and is mainly confined to the main cities which are quite far away from each other – but it is a very close knit community and everyone is travelling to play shows with their friends and favourite bands. The scene isn’t massive, you don’t have thousands of unsigned bands like in the UK who are all releasing epic music and creating scenes all over the place, you have your niche few but make no mistake, they are incredible bands. Made For Broadway are a band we are hoping will play a show or 2 with us over there and are definitely worth mentioning as a personal standout for me. They would fit in perfectly with the pop punk scene over here, I highly recommend you check them out.
What can people expect from a Youth Illusion show?
Zach: Ive always laughed and joked about what people would expect because the fact of the matter is, if you come to one of our shows you are going to see the same people on stage as the people you would meet offstage – we literally talk shit about each other all the time, we like to party and drink beer. There is no script or planned routine like some bands do – we get up, we play fast, hard, and heavy, and have a good time.
Brandon: Loads of energy and loads of personality – like Zach was saying, what is offstage, is onstage too and is part of the show. We like to make people happy and if you come to our show it will be the best night of your life – better than the birth of your child.. better than your wedding.. better than when man went to the moon.. our gigs are where its at.
Whats it like to party with Youth Illusion
Rory: BRANDON!!! What IS it like to party with Youth Illusion? (Laughing)
Brandon: Pretty extra!! After our last show in Huddersfield I may have drunk 1 or 2 alcoholic beverages and then I passed out and my lovely band mates took awkward pictures of me because they are horrible… and everyone had a great time! But yeah, we just like to have fun and chat to people and make sure everyone else has a good time and ends up like me at the end of the night!
Rory: We drink A LOT of beer on show days… lots and lots of beer; well me and Zach do, Brandon drinks cider and has rules about how early we can start or how many we are allowed to have before a show – more guidelines than rules I think! But then he drinks too much cider and we have to hold him up… or take photos with our asses in his face! The party doesn’t end when we get off stage, it sounds sooooo cheesy but “that’s when the party begins” (laughs)… nah, that’s when the work is done, the sweat is paid, its time to interact with the people who have come out to see us and time to make sure everyone continues to have a good time. Hopefully partying with us is fun but I cant guarantee that coz there are a lot of insults and nobody is off limits regardless of how little or long we have known someone – everyone is fair game. But its all in good fun and nobodies feelings get hurt. However, we do encounter midnight crackheads who try and bottle us with empty plastic milkshake bottles, prostitutes with business cards offering free lapdances, our promoters hotel receptionist locking the door behind him because there is a dead guy out on the street (it was drunk brandon!) – so all in all, our parties are pretty lame!
(Adam, Riff Media) - That night, after the Huddersfield show was wild, but it really showed your character, especially with the second set offered to you last minute, you literally dropped your beers and rushed to get your gear, after the set you picked up where you left off with the beers and it was a real pleasure to spend that time with you, Brandon, you was a mess!
Whats the absolute worst thing you have done to each other whilst out and about?
Rory: As we mentioned before, after our last gig Brandon got very very drunk and passed out on the pavement while we waited for a cab; so for myself, Zach, and our promoter, it was a good opportunity for some photos… so we took some photos!! (laughs) – on the drive back we got a video which you can see on our facebook page of Brandon paying amazing homage to Zach whilst Zach showed of his skills in ventriloquism! The answer to this question is in the public domain, check out our facebook page and see it for yourself.
Whats the hardest part about band life?
All together: MONEY!!!
Brandon: And also that my 2 band mates are dicks and I have to be the parent when they get drunk! Except for yesterday!
Whos the number one band you’d kill to tour with?
Rory: Trash Boat! Fucking love that band…! If you guys read this… please take us on tour with you!! Unrealistically – Four Year Strong
Brandon: My Chemical Romance – I know we would have to get them back together first but Ill work something out
Whats the biggest issue facing the music scene today and how would you combat it?
Rory: The biggest issue in the industry is the obvious one and that’s the internet and music streaming and the fact that they haven’t figured out a way to regulate it across borders. How to combat it is anyones guess but if bands are doing things for themselves and trying to make money in other ways; you need to realise that your band isn’t just about music, it’s a brand; you have merchandise, an image, you have to find other forms of revenue and maximise those because these days people are not making money from music. Streaming sites are not paying the artists their fair share and realise that bands are reliant on them in this day and age. Hopefully things are going to change, dick head Trump has signed something to do with increased royalties; I don’t know enough yet to comment on it fully but hopefully it’s a step in the right direction and something he gets right after fucking up everything else.
Brandon: Also millennials and their streaming; they will go on to itunes and buy maybe a single but they aren’t buying whole records anymore and especially physically; CD sales and vinyls and stuff are just so low just because of the younger demographic of fans and how things are for them.
Rory: And that’s not a criticism, its just how they consume their music these days; I really think it is up to the streaming platforms to reform and start giving artists a fair share of the revenue that they are making which includes the advertising they are selling based on people visiting their sites solely for the artist – the detachment between streaming and advertising definitely needs to be addressed.
Give us your top 5 facts about Youth Illusion!
1.We are all from different countries
2.Zach is a frontline paramedic for the London Ambulance Service
3.Rory has only been playing the bass guitar for about 5 months
4.Zach started playing in drop tuning for the simple fact that he was in a car wreck and had nerve damage to his fingers so had to soften the strings to be able to play
5.Brandon is the only musically educated member of this band
Just for good measure, number 6 is the fact that we all met on Gumtree and number 7… We are fucking awesome as shit!
What else do we need to know?
Big thanks to James Curtis-Thomas and Keith Gannon at Essex Recording Studios for their support and belief in us; having those 2 in our corner has really helped take this band to the next level and we are eternally grateful for everything they have done and continue to do for us.
Shout out to Adam Ruane at Riff Media for his belief and support and giving us the opportunity to support I Set My Friends On Fire – and then going pint for pint (or can) afterward and staying till the end!
Huge thank you to everyone whos supported us and came out to see us live; all our friends and followers on Facebook who help keep us relevant and continue to spread the word.
Thanks from Brandon to D’addario for providing him with his drum equipment.
Rory: And thanks to me for being in this band because the oozing of awesomeness is the reason we are the best band in the world!
Check Youth Illusion out here: