Music

Chicago-Based Band Young Man Talks ‘Intelligent Life’

Music

Chicago-Based Band Young Man Talks ‘Intelligent Life’

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A year ago, the pop songs Colin Caulfield recorded in his bedroom, and then uploaded to YouTube, caught the attention of Deerhunter‘s Bradford Cox, who called Caulfied’s rendition of “Rainwater Cassette Exchange” “far superior to [my] original.” Since then, Caulfield released his first record, Ideas of Distance, as Young Man (a solo project, which has since evolved into a band comprised of guitarist and vocalist Emmett Conway, drummer Dylan Andrews, bassist Joe Bailey, and Jeff Graupner on synthesizers) played at Lollapalooza and SXSW, and will soon embark on a tour with Cold War Kids. Here, a little pillow talk with a group determined to leave the bedroom.

BULLETT: Tell me about Ideas of Distance.

COLIN CAULFIELD: It just kind of came together. I wasn’t intending for it to be a full-length album at first. It’s a pretty personal record—I had to be alone, often in my bedroom, when I was writing it.

To clear up any possible confusion, Young Man now refers to your entire band. How did the group come together?

DYLAN ANDREWS: Colin was in Paris, playing music, when he got in contact with me. We knew each other as acquaintances—we all went to school together. Joe, Emmett, and I started playing together at the beginning of last summer. When Colin got back, we toured for a while but we still had another year of school left. Jeff only joined us four months ago.

CC: We’re still working on the title for the next record, which will come out in February. We’ve just recorded that in Chicago. Sound-wise, it’s closer to what we play in live performances, and there will be another one following that, probably coming out in July.

When I first listened to your music, I thought it sounded really otherworldly. 

CC: It deals a lot with atmosphere-creating. People ask us what kind of music we’re playing and it’s hard to answer. We just say rock, but yes, I would agree with that.

JEFF GRAUPNER: I think each member brings his own unique sound. It’s channeled through our abilities—it can be jazzy, and it can be ambient.

The name, Young Man, always makes me think of Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther and Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manboth of which related to the darker aspects of growing up.

CC: I’ve always been a big fan of concept records and concept projects, and so I thought, since that was how I’d been writing my solo material, we could all keep doing it together. I feel like love is such a dominant subject matter in music, and youth is kind of the same way. It is this idea of progression through life. Everyone gets older, so that’s something everyone can talk about.

EMMETT CONWAY: It can be confusing, though, now that there are five of us young men.

Your songs can be downloaded for free on Noise Trade. In an age of cyber revolutions, do you consider copyright to be a thing of the past?

JG: No, because I think that there are too many people who base their careers on making money off of copyrighting issues. Those people will probably keep fighting for it.

CC: As an artist, I’m not offended when people download my record without paying for it—that’s just part of how things work now. But if someone were to take my music and sell it and make a profit, that’s obviously something I have a problem with.

There’s also increased support of Copyleft, which basically stands against the idea of art as property.

DA: It’s a very idealistic point of view, which I’d like to embrace on some level, but at the same time, if you don’t earn any money, you won’t have the time to make music—unless you are filthy rich.

CC: You can download an album and know nothing about the artist, but if you’re going to buy it, you’ll probably have some sort of idea. It’s interesting to think about. I think the whole idea relates to the “death of the artist.” That’s becoming more prevalent in many art forms, especially in music, where everything is so accessible.

It’s like looking into an abyss. Do you believe in the existence of other dimensions?

DA: I read an article about black holes that had really fascinating theories about parallel dimensions. We won’t have the technology to get that far in order to access the pathway into an alternate dimension for thousands of years, but it’s fun to think about.

CC: It’s so outside of the way we understand everything, so it’s hard to consider it. But I wouldn’t be surprised. It pushes open-mindedness. Everything you see in front of you doesn’t have to be absolute. It’s impossible for us to delve into that kind of thought with certainty, but it’s healthy to think about. The potential is definitely there.

If you could create the perfect form of life in another universe, what would it be?

CC: If we ever encounter an alien life form, I hope they are completely different than anything we can even articulate or imagine. For example, they won’t have skin encasing their organs. That’s what I hope. If we run into aliens and they’re the stereotypical green figures, I’ll be kind of disappointed.

JG: If we’re not talking specifically “intelligent life,” then I imagine huge giant whales. Sage whales with bifocals.

DA: My ideal would be a human-like beings that are less prone to ignorance and violence. Those are huge things that hold us back as a species. If we were somehow wired to be less like that, then we would be a much more harmonious species.

JOE BAILEY: E.T. was a pretty cool alien. It healed people, and spoke a little bit of English. That would probably be my ideal alien.

Want more Young Man? Sure you do, you little hussy. Check out an exclusive video of Colin Caulfield singing for us here.