Exposure: The Young Republic
- Thomas Meek
- 27 August 2009
Settled in the home of American country, Nashville, after meeting at one of the country's most prestigious music colleges, The Young Republic combine southern tradition with east coast class - being both wholly American, yet open to a world of ideas. Consisting of Julian Saporiti (guitar, vocals), Kristin Weber (violin, vocals), Bob Merkl (guitar, pedal steel), Nate Underkuffler (viola, piano), Chris Miller (bass) and Logan Linning (drums), their MySpace influences list - "American music. British bands playing American music. Old dead white European dudes - mostly German" and it shows, with Brechtian tendencies clashing with blues roots and the alternative rock of Pixies and Pavement. It's a mixture that promises excitement, something surely to be delivered on upcoming second album Balletesque. The band seem to think so too.
Can you tell us a bit about the background of Young Republic?
We met five years ago at the Berklee College of Music, almost instantaneously. Since then, the five core members have travelled from Paris to San Francisco, played in a truck stop in West Virginia to the Glastonbury Festival in England and moved from Boston to Nashville. We've suffered the loss of band mates but always continued honing our chops and compositional abilities and now have our first proper album, Balletesque, a darn close reflection of the time spent, places travelled to and people met.
Was music always an important part of your lives when growing up?
Yes. Whether it was rock n' roll, bluegrass, country, film music, classical music or jazz, we all grew up with some sort of sonic companionship from our parents record collections, the radio, friends' mixtapes, etc.
'Balletesque' is out soon in the UK. Is there a story behind the record?
We moved to Nashville in the winter of 2008 and built a studio in the woods, with two albums, written from our Boston days, ready to be recorded. In the spring, our van broke down in the desert land of Beaumont, Texas. At this juncture, three band mates left a week prior to a headlining UK tour. A summer was wasted. We spent the August and September wandering through the backwoods of middle Tennessee and came out in October with a new album to record. Coupled with the personal betrayal was the constant panic of economic crisis, and this produced Balletesque.
Is it everything you hoped it would be?
More than we hoped. We are very happy with it.
You say your influences expanded on this record. Is it important to always look for more and varied ideas to fulfil your own potential?
This is very true because you can only build off what others have done. I would say one of our major attributes as a band is our ability to play our instruments at a higher level of proficiency than a typical rock group - more of a jazz or classical dedication to performance. The more you CAN play, the more influences you are able to seek out because your technical proficiency doesn't limit your understanding of what a certain player is doing in his or her solos, or what a composer comes up with. The more tools you have and the better you are with them, the more you can do. You can then use the tools to understand a greater range of influences with more depth.
Nashville's renowned for its music pedigree. Can you hear the city in your music?
Yes we can. We are very proud to be a Nashville band and I am proud to be a native Nashvillian. Studio guys like Stuart Duncan, Andy Reis, Paul Franklin, etc and some of the bar bands down at the Honky Tonks on Broadway, like the Don Kelly Band - those are the people we look up to as players and you won't find more concentrated talent in any city in the world than Nashville. There's also the mystique and aura of being in the same town where Hank, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Dylan and Neil Young all cut some of their best stuff. You walk around, you go into the studios that haven't forgotten all this history... you're gonna catch something.
What's the nicest thing anyone's said about your music?
Don't quit. Whatever you do, don't quit.
The Young Republic play Nice N' Sleazy, Glasgow on Oct 28.