Late last year, Music Editor Patrick Roso spoke to Dominic Harrison, better known as UK act YUNGBLUD. You can catch YUNGBLUD at Bandlands Bar on Sunday 17 February. Tickets available here.
CW: Sexual Assault and descriptions of mental health.
How’d you come about the name “Yungblud”?
To be honest I’ve always felt as if people expected me to say that I walked into a library and it hit me in the fookin’ face or some sort of mad metaphorical story about it being in the family heritage.
But nah man, I was the youngest guy on the agency’s roster and me manager always used to call me ‘youngblood’.
Dominic Harrison is just a little bit too polite ‘innit mate?
PR: Moving to London on your own at sixteen must’ve been pretty challenging. There’s a brief stint at Arts School and a couple of early attempts at finding your feet in the industry that didn’t quite pan out. How’d you manage to push through this sort of adversity, to today where you’ve got a debut album and an international tour?
Yeah man, where I was from it was hard. I have ADHD and all my life I was really opinionated and had a lot of energy, a lot of people misunderstood that and put me in a box. It’s quite suppressive if you want to be an artist and express yourself so I couldn’t wait for that move.
I was excited to go to Arts School, but it turned out they were worse! They was tellin’ me how I should write and play, how I should be as an artist.
That just didn’t fookin’ stick with me and it’s kind of made me the artist I am.
PR: Do you think that move down to London influenced your music?
One hundred percent man. That move down there and the struggle, you know? My generation man, we’re so fookin’ intelligent and nobody can deny that. We genuinely care about the world we live in and give a fuck about the future, we see a future that we want to be a part of.
PR: Sexual assault, consent and the way we treat women is a pretty important issue across Australia politically and in the music industry at the moment. You’ve spoken a lot about the whole “lad” mentality that drives this and there’s Polygraph Eyes of course. What was it that prompted you to speak up?
It was a thing I grew up around, when I was growin’ up. It’s kinda’ the same as Australia, I had a fake ID growin’ up, so I was going to clubs as a fourteen-year-old. I would see what’s happening, see drunk girls stumbling out of clubs with boys that weren’t nearly as drunk as they were ya’ know? They’d put ‘em into cars and take ‘em home.
The most fundamental fucked up thing about it was, to me, I didn’t realise how wrong it was until I grew up. When you grow up in a society where that lad mentality is so vastly accepted you believe it’s okay. If Mum and Dad tell you the sky is fuckin’ green, then the sky is fuckin’ green for you.
I wanted to create conversation, create awareness. It’s not right and it happens all the time, yet it’s not taken seriously. So, I wanted to create a song from a male perspective that would hit hard.
PR: Guess that kinda’ puts your little collaboration with Thirteen Reasons Why into perspective then?
That show has got a lotta’ controversy about it but I like it man. Lotta’ folks say its triggering and glamorising, but to me it’s what art should do. To highlight an issue or subject for people who would never otherwise relate to it.
Sure, it’s uncomfortable to watch, but it’s uncomfortable to not understand someone who’s going through these things. You need to recognise and relate to these things.
PR: Your old man ran a guitar shop back in the UK and I reckon it’s fair to say you’ve grown up around musical instruments in general, what with your grandad playing with T-Rex and all. Got a favourite old guitar or go to model that you love?
Yeah man I grew up in that shit. I used to love playing with him, its weird in hindsight, but th I grew up around ‘em. Couldn’t picture myself being a fookin’ accountant. I love looking at all these old guitars, they get me excited. I’m such a fucking guitar nerd.
I’ve got a soft spot for an SG Junior.
PR: If you could take the time out and see any band live today, who would you go and see?
Shit, that’s the trouble you know? Rock and roll ain’t relatin’ to anyone anymore man. The Arctic Monkeys for instance man, they’re ten years old.
PR: Already? Shit.
Yeah, it’s so isolated right now! It’s not movin’ anywhere, it’s not pushing forward. Rock right now is just full of middle-class white kids in leather jackets, so it’s gotta have a bit of fire again and a bit of energy! Put some fuckin’ passion back into it. That’s why hip hop is dominating, it’s saying something.
PR: Before you go, would you be able to share any plans for new music with us? Any little teasers?
Hell yeah man! Single comin’ out in January, collaborations coming out! I wanna be a genre bending disruptor. I want people to go fuck me, did YUNGBLUD do that? I wanna shock people. 2019 is my year man, there’s so much happening.
I want to make rock music relevant in every genre, I can’t tell ya who I’m collaborating with right now but it’s gonna shock people. Look out man.