FROM: BIRMINGHAM | FOR FANS OF: DON BROCO

WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON | PHOTOS: GEORGIA RAWSON

“Always take risks, wear whatever the fuck you want, be the person you want to be.” Solid advice from Birmingham’s Y!KES, the four piece “anti-pop virus into your immune system” who have never taken themselves too seriously and love to have fun with their music. “People will always take themselves too seriously,” they remarked when we caught up with them for a chat recently. “In ways, we do too! But why portray yourself as a band that does everything by the book?”

And in keeping with that, Y!KES are the type of band to make bold statements through their artistry and see themselves as “not just as musicians strict to our instruments, but as an artistically adventurous brand”. Through incorporating bold colours such as neon yellow and fluorescent pink into their imagery, they aim to catch the consumer’s eye and provoke a reaction. “Literally Y!KES!…Today’s society will take a visual image and judge the outcome in two ways. They like it or hate it.”

“Never underestimate your friendly neighborhood Y!KES”

More and more people seem to be liking it though, since Y!KES are starting to do pretty well for themselves despite changing lead singers recently – always a tough one. “Never underestimate your friendly neighborhood Y!KES,” they joked. New vocalist Oli Long has “filled the boots” and the band are now concentrating on both live performances and high concept singles that tell a story. “With Hold On To Your Grudge the song was a vibrant and colourful fuck off tune, so we made it about a guy defeating a bunch of fluorescent vampires,” the guys explained. “With Hiding In Plain Sight however the song is contemplative and dark, so we invented a guy with a mirror for a face reflecting people who struggle to face themselves.” The band manage to walk the line between genius and cliché without crossing over onto the wrong side, noting that the best way to avoid cliché is “to avoid emulation” and they certainly have some fresh, original ideas. “We just do whatever feels right for the tune…We’ve tried to be as innovative as possible, from creating our own city full of track list clues on the upcoming EP cover to putting human teeth into a 6 foot teddy bear costume.”

The bear in question travels with the band to their gigs and is called Bear Frills. “His mouth is as big as his belly, Gnashers as large as the comeback of one of our dear influential artists, My Chemical Romance,” the guys filled us in on the details. “People took a liking to Bear ever since our single ‘Uncanny Valley’, He has stuck by us and will continue to be seen alongside us boys until this new form of character presents itself within the multiverse.”

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“Our ammunition is ready to explode.”

This multiverse the band created is a musical onslaught of vibrant “mad synth and electronic elements…we essentially build characters with narratives that reinforce the message. They all live together in a big fucking yellow and pink mansion.” Musically, they like to “layer the noise up and bring totally unexpected sounds to the audience…It always jolts them to hear an ehx synth machine whilst watching a dude playing a telecaster rolling around the floor!” It’s safe to say Y!KES are a really interesting band not only in terms of their imagery which is “aesthetically pleasing to the corneas” but also lyrically with their unusual concepts and characters, and musically in the way they’re trying new sounds, samples and experimenting. There’s a lot going on here, but the live environment is where they really thrive. “We live for the live!” they told us. “Our ammunition is ready to explode. Sound, Personality, Performance. Every note, every hit, every lyric portrayed in full volume, attracts the listening just as much from the visual aspect and making them physically feel like they have a reason to be at your show.”

Creatively on a roll at the moment, the band intend to keep going for as long as possible and take Y!KES as far as they can. Reflecting on their legacy, they remarked they’d like it to be “a catalogue of provocative and thoughtful music & videos which people can delve into for years to come. Or maybe it’ll be a King Kong sized pigeon with gummy teeth once we’re finished with the bear. You never know what roams about the Y!KES universe, but we’re excited to deliver the next slice of what we found on our travels there.” And we’re excited to receive it.

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