INTERVIEW: The Young’uns | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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While The Young’uns name will be familiar to many as mainstays of the local folk scene, to others they may still fly a little under the radar having never really crossed over into mainstream indie-ville. However, I caught up with chief songwriter Sean Cooney from the band and found out there is a lot more depth to the folk trio’s endeavours with latest album, Tiny Notes. “It is an album that we’re very proud of. A record that celebrates some inspirational heroes who have done some incredible things.”

Digging interesting stories out of marginalised or underdog characters has always been The Young’uns method of operation, so I asked Sean how the songs first develop. “Some of the stories come from things we’ve seen in the news. Others have come directly from people getting in touch with us to ask if we’d write a song about a particular person or event. This was the case with Rachel Robertson who, very movingly, wrote to ask if we’d write a song for her brother, Tim Burman, who died in the Lockerbie bombing.” The track of the same name is indeed a moving eulogy to him and others who lost their lives in the bombing and in a slightly similar vein to the Bee Gees’ New York Mining Disaster 1941.

We don’t exclusively seek out stories from the North East anymore, but they seem to find their way to us

However, even though the group have won national plaudits over the years many of the new songs remain very local in their influence. I wondered if that was intentional to continue to connect with their local audience and Sean was reassuringly honest. “I think it’s just who we are. We’re folk singers from Teesside. I don’t think we could sound like anything else. We started out singing sea shanties and traditional songs from the North East and we went on to write a lot of songs drawn from the history of our area. We don’t exclusively seek out stories from the North East anymore, but they seem to find their way to us. We’re so lucky that people write to us to share stories.”

The folk scene is known to be, well, somewhat considered so I asked Sean if there is pressure as a folk group to write a certain way. “I used to think so. In the early days, I tried so hard to impress folk audiences and make things sound as traditional as possible. We still have that traditional sound and I write very much within a folk song framework, but I think we own it now and if we wanted to sound like anything else we’d be less bothered by what people thought.”

And that depth of endeavour? “We’re playing a bunch of festivals this summer including Hartlepool Tall Ships which we’re really excited about. We’ve got lots of other projects going on as well. David [Eagle] is an award-winning stand-up comedian and plays comedy gigs every week of the year and I’m currently writing songs for the National Theatre’s production of The Odyssey which is coming to Sunderland in April.” There it is.

Tiny Notes by The Young’uns is released on Friday 7th April on Hudson Records. The band play Sage Gateshead on Friday 26th May


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