On October 29th, Blood Youth had a show in Milan, Italy, supporting Neck Deep (along with Real Friends and As It Is), and I had the chance to sit down with vocalist Kaya Tarsus, to ask him some questions…
First of all thank you for your time, it’s nice to meet you!
…and congratulations on this tour: it’s a massive one, with fifteen dates and three other great bands, how is it going so far?
Kaya: It’s really good! We’re coming towards like having 5-4 shows left now, but every show has been great. It’s really nice to play new places, like Denmark, none of us have ever been there, Wien also was really cool. There are so many cool places…
Is this your first time here in Italy?
Kaya: No, we played here last year with While She Sleeps. We love Italy and the show we did play in Milan was really good.
…and you have a sold-out show tonight!
Kaya: Yeah! It’s a big one!
For the ones who don’t know Blood Youth, how did the band get started?
Kaya: The band was like a kind of combination of guys who’ve been in bands before. Some of them were in Climates and that ended. They wanted to continue, but with a bit of a different sound. I was actually living in Barcelona and I was just working in an office and had completely quit music, I was done. I did it for so long, I’ve been in a band since when I was like 12…and at 21, if I was going to be in a band, it would have happened, cause I was doing it for so long. So I got an office job and was miserable, depressed, and then I got an email from Chris (our guitarist) which said: “We’re putting together a band and there are a few people auditioning to be a singer, do you wanna audition?” I basically did it and we’ve been on tour ever since then! I moved back to the UK, and just did it. (laughs)
I know Barcelona is very special for you, and you’ll be back there soon…how does it feel to go back there?
Kaya: It’s really strange, but in a good way! It’s really weird for me…we played there last year, and it’s just really emotional for me cause I ran away to Barcelona, I went there because I was depressed and an alcoholic. I was just so sad and I needed to go somewhere to kinda change me, and Barcelona did completely change me, and I came back a better person, so it’s weird. We’re gonna have a day-off there as well, so I’m gonna walk around like where I used to live, go and see the city, stuff like that.
On Facebook, you described your music genre as ‘Good Trash/Triple Dragon’…Why would you describe your band that way?
Kaya: We mess around with that so much! We tweeted the other day that our genre is “scrap-metal” so we kind of like make fun of that. If you go on our Wikipedia page, the musical style section says pop-punk, hardcore, hardcore punk, so many different genres and we like to go in there and make our own thing and change that…every so often we change it to like, “dog-metal” or something like that! (laughs)
I would say your ‘escalation’ was pretty quick, how did you manage all those things happening so fast?
Kaya: We’ll still managing really, cause everything in this band is happening really fast, it still shocks us…well not ‘shocks’ us but we step back by. Just the idea of having fans is really weird for us, cause we’re from such a small town, Harrogate, in England, where no one cares what you do or who you are. We go back there and no one’s bothered. We felt like we kind of escaped that and now we have like fans, and stuff like that! We still love going back to Harrogate, it’s our home, Chris still lives there…but it’s just weird traveling the world, having people wanting to meet you and talk to you. We’re still getting used to that, so people think that we’re kind of standoff-ish a bit, like ‘not having fun’, but it’s just this idea that people wanna meet me that is really weird to me, I’m still getting used to it! But yeah, as a band we just kinda do what we do and every so often we step back and be like “Wow!”, it all happened in like two years, it’s crazy!
You’ve done Download, Slam Dunk, toured with Architects, Beartooth, you’ve played with While She Sleeps, Every Time I Die, Neck Deep now…who you wish could be next? What would be your ‘absolute dream come true’ lineup? Besides Every Time I Die of course…!
Kaya: Well, my dream come true was to support Every Time I Die. I have an Every Time I Die tattoo and when I was a kid, like 14 onwards, all I listened was Every Time I Die so when we supported them I was like “This is what I’ve dreamed about as a kid!”. We have five days off after this tour and then we go support Prophets Of Rage, and that’s crazy. We’d love to tour with Slipknot, I’d love to do more tour with Architects and Every Time I Die. We love those bands and it would be cool to do more shows with them.
You said that with the previous 2 EPs you sort of closed a chapter (hence the title ‘Closure’). After that, how did ‘Beyond Repair’ was born and can you explain the reasoning behind the title?
Kaya: Those two EPs “Inside My Head” and “Closure” were about an ex-girlfriend of mine. Not about ‘her’, but just how I was dealing with it and about running away. I felt like I talked about that enough, that subject of me wanting to run away and getting over stuff was done. I was done singing about that, I wanted to sing about something else, which brought us to write an album. I was in a really weird place when I was writing the lyrics for the album cause I was really sad and I was beating myself up a lot, like if I wasn’t doing something well enough. I ended up going out and party every day. And it’s fun, but I was going out on my own as well, staying up to 7 am, waking up in weird places with weird people and I’ve found that doing that wasn’t “getting better”, because you wake up and feel worse. I felt like I didn’t know how to fix myself cause I was making myself sadder and I felt like I couldn’t be fixed, like I was “Beyond Repair”… So it’s kind of about that, the artwork as well. You see the man in the apartment looking down to the smoke, and we wanted to do that because you can’t see what’s burning, so that can be whatever you want to be. It could be your life, it could be your relationship. Like, have you seen Pulp Fiction? When they open the box and it’s just gold and you don’t see? We wanted to do that sort of thing.
One huge constant is the raw emotion and aggressiveness you put in your work: can you go through the creative process you face when you’re writing a song?
Kaya: When I’m writing songs I have to have gone through something, cause the worst thing you can do is fake something, everyone would realize it’s just rubbish. Sometimes I take a break for like 3 weeks or a month from writing because I haven’t gone through anything, I’m perfectly content. Then something will happen, someone will do this, I will do that, fuck up someway, and that leads me to write notes, writing of exactly how I feel at that exact time “I feel this, I feel that” and turn those parts into sentences in a notebook. I don’t write like, a song, it’s just lines. Chris then writes the music. We’ll just sit together and paste what we like, working on the sections…and just make it rhyme! (laughs) I love that people can hear that, people can go like “Wow that’s very, REAL. That line, that story…” because it is real, that’s like literally IT, straight from our feelings into a song.
From your brain to your notebook.
Kaya: Literally that! It’s even weirder for me, when I’m on stage and I’m seeing everyone singing it. They’re singing my songs about my ex-girlfriend! This is so weird!
I’d like you to talk about some backstory of a couple of songs. But you’ll be the one picking which one…
Kaya: Of any songs we have?
Kaya: Okay…I’ll do “Failure”. We owe so much to that song, it built us up as a band. “Failure” was written before it was even meant to be a song. Like I was just saying, when I thought something I wrote it down. When I was living in Spain, working my office job, sad and depressed, I didn’t have an outlet, had anything to do like playing music. I had a diary, and I wrote those words, exactly how I was feeling and it felt like it was making me feel better. For “Failure” we used every line from that diary and turned it into a song. So for that, being our most popular song, means like so much because it’s so real.
“Parasite” is about when I was going at parties and stuff like that…I was at a bar on my own and there was another guy next to me on his own as well and he was so drunk and you know, you just kinda say “Hey” and talk to each other. He worked in a bank and he was so upset because his long-time girlfriends had broken up with him, he said like he was just out and wanted to fight someone. He said he needed like and outlet, and wanted to fight. He said “Tonight I’m getting drunk and I’m gonna fight someone” and we were having the conversation like “You don’t need to go out and punch people…” So hopefully, I kinda talked him out of that…never saw him again. He probably just went home and fell asleep, but I remember walking home and I couldn’t stop thinking about it and it was like 4 am, and I wrote the chorus to “Parasite”, straight after. This was inspired by him, I wrote the entire song straight after meeting him. I hope he listens to it and be like “Oh…”
Like “Mmm…maybe that’s about me”
Kaya: Yeah exactly! That would be the best thing!
And what about ‘Buying Time’? I had to ask, right now it’s my favorite song on the record…
Kaya: You know, it’s just about living. It’s weird because there’s a line in it which says “I’m the messed up kid at the back of the bus”. When I was writing that song I realized how fast life happens and you can either do something with it, it’s like our version of “You only live once”. “We’re all just buying time until our last goodbye”, that’s literally like “We’re all going to die, eventually, so mind as well make the most of it”. Back to that line, “I’m the messed up kid at the back of the bus”, I remember that so vividly being in school, and that doesn’t feel like long ago but it actually was, cause it was 10 years ago and it feels weird!
Yeah, I completely understand that.
Again, thank you so much for your time Kaya, really appreciate it!
Kaya: Thank You!