INTERVIEW: YUNGBLUD on his most recent headlining run, the new music to come and his hopes for the future!
Since we started NES, it was always a goal of ours to catch artists we knew were going to be big. Examples including Barns Courtney, Boston Manor and casual Rock Album of the Year winners this year, Greta Van Fleet. Another guy we knew was going to be a smash from day one of his American touring? YUNGBLUD, otherwise known as Dominic Harrison. In the words of “11 Minutes” co-collaborator Halsey after their debut performance of the track in Australia, ‘We’re watching history in the making here’. Harrison’s career so far has been a whirlwind and at the insane age of 21, a very recent 21, he’s already released the debut album “21st Century Liability” and is already working on new material. Some of that new material? Announced yesterday, a new collaboration with the very much a surprise Machine Gun Kelly and fellow “11 Minutes” partner Travis Barker.
Coming off his biggest US headliner yet, we followed up with Harrison after first meeting him while he was on the iconic last full summer Warped Tour. An interview where we jumped up on a table for it and his love and desire for what he’s doing shone through. That energy was palpable and with several other bands’ eyes on us during the interview, Dom had several fellow tour mates introducing themselves with awe despite being about 2/3 through the tour. That energy hasn’t gone away almost a year later when I sat down with Harrison just before his biggest sold out show in the Boston area thus far. And it’s only going to get bigger from here. With a fall tour planned and a comic book announced the day after our interview less then two weeks ago, it’s clear we’re most definitely catching history in the making as Halsey proclaimed and we’re fully here for it!
You’re currently on this sold out US headlining run, how has it been so far?
Just bonkers! Everywhere, world-wide. I can’t believe just the sheer response. It’s almost like every where’s moving at the same pace. Like some artists, you kind of get big in one place and then you start moving from there. Everywhere it’s been simultaneous and just went alright, cool, I was like sick. It was mad.
Then talking about that, you’ve only been touring the US for maybe a year. You did the tour with K. Flay, you did Warped Tour, obviously huge being the last Warped Tour, iconic, then you’ve done your own headlining tours. This whole year’s been crazy for you. Maybe when did you realize that this was going to be something? That you were going to be able to break, that you were going to have this career?
As I say, the first massive surprising moment in America was this tour. My agent said to me, let’s put our sights low. Don’t get your hopes up too much because you just never know. We did Warped Tour, did K. Flay, America looked good. We’re just going to book five to eight hundred cap rooms across the States and see what it happens. And it sold out in four minutes.
The whole thing?
The whole tour, 30 dates. The whole thing, between four to ten minutes. East Coast was four then the West Coast was about ten.
That must feel incredible.
It was mad. It was mad and as I say, we’re gearing up to come back in the fall already. In September, even bigger. My agent was like, ‘We totally undersold this’ and was like ‘Why don’t you upgrade?’ And I was just like let’s just do another tour in the fall.
Yeah, and keep this one special.
Yeah keep it intimate. Keep it crazy and just utterly mad. It’s bonkers.
And just from reading about it I know, since the album came out, “21st Century Liability”, last year obviously you’ve released new music. You’ve already released “11 Minutes” “Loner”. You’ve released these big smashes. When did you kind of start writing those songs? When did “Loner” come together, “11 Minutes”?
“Loner”, we were playing “Loner” on tour for years. “Loner” was one for the fans. It took me so long to release it because I didn’t get right. Until now, until then. Onstage, you’ll see it tonight, it’s such an electrifying energy. The whole room just kind of erupts into this volcano of rebellion and solidarity and happiness all at once. And I just couldn’t capture the electricity of it on a record but then we did. And it was crazy. That was what was the fucking best.
It was finally ready to go.
It was ready to go and it was ready to be released. With me man as I say, I’ve got so much music ready to go. It’s just finding the right time to drop it, when it feels right. There’s a song coming out next week because it feels right. Then with “11 Minutes”, that’s something that just happened, Halsey and I met and wrote it. It came together in the space of like two weeks. The song was written in three days. The song was written and recorded, me, Travis and Halsey were in the same room. Started from scratch and built it up. Crazy.
Must feel nuts. Maybe I’m sure growing up and looking up to someone like Travis Barker. How was that experience?
Oh, absolutely fucking bonkers, are you joking me, Travis Barker. Thirteen-year-old me was screaming. He was in the room with me playing on one of my songs. I’ve been on stage with him a couple times as well and it was just what the fuck? We played the iHeart Radio Awards which was just mind-blowing. It was sick.
I’m sure it was incredible. With everyone going on with it and looking at the video, you’ve obviously had many videos before and they’re always so creative and always something insane.
Maybe for “11 Minutes”, it’s this longer video. How did the concept come about?
It was weird man. The shit was very much steered by me and Ash (Halsey) in the way that we wanted to do something that represented the five stages of grief and Groundhog Day in one thing. We were watching a lot of Black Mirror and Bandersnatch and we wanted to kind of create this world where I had eleven minutes to save my girlfriend’s life. And if I didn’t do it, I had to start all over again until I fully accepted it.
Because the story is a true story. When I heard about it, it moved me so much.
It’s a true story?
Yeah, it’s based on a true story. It moved me so much that you don’t realize how much you value something, someone, an ideology until it’s taken away from you. It’s just so sad and that’s what made Ash just go wow. I want to do that as well.
I’ve been covering bands for like ten years and so I saw her play like the Middle East Downstairs in Cambridge where she was co-headlining with a band with her grandmother like standing next to me. She was so cute, like sobbing being like ‘She’s doing so good’ and I was like, ‘Yeah it’s really good!’
That is so crazy, where’s Middle East?
It’s in Cambridge. If you asked, I’m sure she’ll know it, but it only holds like five hundred and it was her first ever headlining Boston show. I want to say it was only like four years ago if that.
Mental. It’s craziness. It’s so weird to be here and already almost be talking about the next tour. It’s like what?!
It must be exciting though. I’ve talked to people like that where you have these plans far ahead of you.
Totally. When I play the next tour which whatever, I mean you can print it, I don’t care. I think we’re going to the House of Blues Boston. Then after that, I want to go bigger and then bigger. At the end of the day, it’s about me connecting to the people. I’m not asked about how many records I sell, I just want to play stadiums.
I think you’re on point to go there bud.
Yeah that’s my goal. I want to be looked to like the Foo Fighters or Oasis instead of anything else. I mean that’s where I want to go.
Well maybe speaking of that, it’s only up from here.
As I say, I’m still trying to get my head around it. At the end of this day, all this was was me trying to create music so I would feel less alone. I always felt like an outsider, I never belonged anywhere. I remember watching artists like Gaga or Manson or Bowie who were kind of like me where you just didn’t fit a mold. You build your own. YUNGBLUD became so much less and less about me and more and more about us as a community. As a family and that was like wow.
And that’s something you’re working about on this second album, right?
Like the first album was an introduction and now it’s about the community?
It’s stories about me and stories on the world and stories I hear you know.
Was that something that came naturally for you when you were writing? When did that come to be?
When I was touring and meeting so many people and hearing so many stories about them and how we relate to each other. When we were talking, it just inspired me and it made me go, fuck! And made me really understand young people and people in general. People write about politics because it’s trendy nowadays or depression or anxiety because it’s trendy. They just do and people get away with it. There’s nothing wrong with it because at the end of the day if they’re shining a light on the subject I don’t care. Everything with YUNGBLUD, it needs to come from a real place. It just needs to be real, that’s all I want to be. I always ask myself two questions. Is it completely and utterly real and could anybody else sing it? And if it’s real and no one else could sing it, I’ll release it.
But your shows are definitely unique, I was at the Great Scott one.
Oh, wow that was mental.
You have this really dedicated fan base. Already so many girls outside in the socks.
I can’t believe it, apparently, they’ve been out there since five am. But that’s been the way on every tour though. Every single city, the promoters have contacted my tour manager and been like we’ve never seen anything like this. Everyone’s been queuing outside since 5:30 in the morning, refusing to leave the venue. It’s bonkers.
Can’t believe it. Dude it’s crazy. I can’t wait for you to see the progression because Great Scott was one thing. I don’t know what’s happening but I’m just riding it and I’m just loving it. It’s just kind of trying to have it just be as real as possible because you can see that it can kind of get cruel. You see the ruthlessness when your kind of moving up. You see that part of the music industry and I want to change that. I just don’t give a fuck. If I have to compromise reality for success, I’m not interested. Because at the end of the day, if you do that then no one will remember your name, they’ll remember your song.
And you don’t want to be like a one hit.
No, I want people to remember my name not my song.
You. What you meant to them in that moment.
And what they mean to me, what we mean to each other.
Then you talked about it a little bit before, but I don’t want to put it out there and ruin your fire of that, promoting that new tour. But obviously you have a lot coming up.
So much! I just want to release music and keep going. Everyone always asks me what’s coming next. A lot. Always. And I’m going to be saying that in every interview. We’ll probably sit-down next year and I’ll say what’s coming next, another tour, I’ve not played a stadium yet.
It will come.
I can’t wait, I’m excited.
Then seeing how well it is going for you, all over but especially in the States where it is so hard for UK acts to come, maybe advice to these young UK acts in coming over? To try and make the jump over here, obviously you’ve had such great support here.
Yeah, I don’t know what to say, it just worked out like that. At the end of the day, I never try to segregate anyone because the more places I go to, the more I realize that people are thinking the same shit. It’s a much smaller world now. Because everything’s open, I’ve got access to so much information, it’s a much smaller planet now. Everyone’s thinking and feeling the same shit and that’s sick.
Well I’m glad to see it going so well. I’m glad to see the progression.
Dude I can’t wait for you to see the show.
It’s going to be crazy. I’ll see you on stage.