With their new album set to be released on the 6th of July, Years & Years have returned in 2018 with fresh music and visuals just in time for summer.
Marking their first musical release since Communion, the band’s 2015 debut album; the new album titled Palo Santo has been a long time coming and has fans worldwide counting down the days until they can hear the wavy musical stylings of Olly, Mikey and Emre.
Their new title track Palo Santo has just been released this past Friday and is the third track the band have released in the lead up to the July release.
I got the chance to talk to Mikey Goldsworthy, founding member and bassist for the band, about the new album, the upcoming tour and anything and everything Years & Years.
So I think my first question is just what was it like getting back into the studio for the new album?
Yeah it was quite daunting, there’s always rumors of the hard second album and they are so true. Yeah we’re sort of a band that don’t really plan ahead so much so it was a case of just going in [to the studio] and seeing what happened. So it was quite hard and it was quite a long process I’m not gonna lie.
How would you describe the sound of the new album in relationship to Communion? And what should people expect from Palo Santo?
It still has Years and Years routes but I feel like it’s a bit older like it sounds a bit more like we’ve aged, like a wine. But every track on the album sounds quite different so it’s sort like a weird buffet of Years and Years tracks, like a mixture. For example the difference between sanctify and If You’re Over Me is a different, it sounds like completely different songs so it’s sort of like stuff in between that and near that if that makes sense.
How would you say then the current landscape of pop affected how you approached this new album as opposed to last time when you were making the debut album?
It’s weird how much has changed, I feel like we’re like one of the last bands, along with like Sam Smith, Jess Glynne to have like big albums. Now it’s a lot of Spotify tracks so a lot of the landscape has changed quite a bit. But it sort of didn’t change how, like we always wanted to make an album, like I think we will always be an album band so I don’t think it changed how we approached it.
With this new album were any risks you felt like you could take that were possibly not an option working on the last album?
I feel like maybe Olly has got more confident in his lyrics and is now being a bit more confident with that side of things. I would say… it’s a tough one, I don’t think I would consider them as risks, we just seem to do what we feel like is right at the time which doesn’t feel like risks but maybe they are. Maybe more with the [music] videos, like when we did Desire with Tove Lo it was like quite sexual and like people, I think they’re opening up to it but yeah at the time it was quite risky.
So you mentioned there that Olly gained more confidence and also with the lyrics also took a few more maybe not risks but was more out there with the kind of things he was writing now. What was it like as a band mate seeing this person develop a new confidence with their identity and how they express themselves in the world?
It’s been like such a long road, like i knew Olly since like 2009-2010 and like I think he was just coming out then, like i think he went on a date with a girl and then yeah just seeing his like, how far he’s come. It’s been quite amazing, he’s been such an icon for the community, it’s been good to just sort of help support that in any way we can. And getting some good songs and melodies out of that, it’s a great bonus.
So obviously Olly has this huge queer following but you and Emre are also part of this amazing queer band that now has this huge audience, what has it been like for you being part of this collective that has this kind of fan base and is giving a voice to all these queer people? Was this something you expected back in 2015 after Communion?
Yeah i didn’t expect it to be honest. It’s good to be part of like, I guess using your powers for good. It’s good that if you have a voice to use it, like obviously Kanye is using his to support Trump so you know, maybe that but for something good. You know if I can just see one person when we’re playing to a crowd who is having a great time it’s kind of worth it you know, it’s really rewarding which I do feel like I can kind of see things changing.
I feel like the younger generation are smarter than us and they’re like, hopefully in a few generations to come it will just kind of be the norm and we’re done good when people look back on it. That’s something good that we have done, it feel good to be a part of. Like even though I’m not gay I’ve had gay friends, so if I can do everything I can to help.
What is it like being one of these artists alongside Troye Sivan, Hayley Kiyoko in this new side of the pop world that is so unapologetically queer? And how would you personally describe the world of music you are living in right now?
Yeah I guess it’s a cool movement but I sort of want it to be where like it’s all just a pop world anyway, it doesn’t matter if you’re queer or straight, it’s all just kind of like with be put up against like. Like looking at Troye Sivan and another queer artist, just because both are gay, it shouldn’t matter I don’t think but like it’s great that it’s in popular music now. Back in the gay it was like Elton John wasn’t out fully and it was much harder as an artist, it’s getting easier for pop stars to be who they are. Which is great.
So obviously I need to ask about the whole fictional world of Palo Santo that is surrounding this album, how did that come about? Was it planned when you were writing the album or did the songs come first then the world or the other way around?
Some of the songs came a bit first then the world, but then more songs came after the world. It was sort of like Olly’s idea, he wanted to have a Sci-Fi epic like blade runner vibes kind of world to go with all the videos and it just sort escalated and it evolved from there. I don’t think like the fact that we decided that affected the music, it was sort of two separate things, then we just kind of made the music work with the world, like the visuals.
And what has the reception been like in your experience from the two videos we’ve seen so far and all the online marketing that’s been happening?
I’m like a little more sheltered than the others on social media, like I’m not on twitter so I don’t see as much of it but I read through the comments on YouTube and everything is like really positive which is rare cause like usually Youtube has a lot of trolling. But it seems like [the fans] are really responding to it, to the world which is cool. I’m hoping like when we take it on the road I’ll get to see people’s views on it more.
You’ve just touched on this a little but as you’ve just announced your UK tour, will we be seeing a lot more of the Palo Santo world in the shows?
Yeah, you definitely will, we’ve taken a lot of the visuals and all of that world, it’s going to be on tour. We’re gonna really go for like taking the Sci-Fi world to the shows, which is super cool and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.
So you mentioned that the whole Palo Santo idea was originally from Olly’s brain and he brought it to the band and to the producers, did it take any convincing to get on board or from day one were you down to see where it went? And were there any parts you were excited about or had hesitations about?
No we were all on board with it from the start, we all love sci-fi, like fifth element is like our fav. When we were on the tour bus we used to watch Sci-Fi films together and me and Olly used to watch Twin Peaks together so,it was kinda like easy to convince us. And it’s quite fun to do actually and it sort of makes the videos a bit easier as you sort of have like a direction more now. Instead of trying to do a different video and fitting all this narrative in three minutes. So yeah I’d say it was easy to convince us.
So finally what should people expect from Years and Years after the tour in the next year or so?
We don’t usually plan like crazy amounts, but hopefully we’ll wrap up touring and sit down and maybe talk about a third album hopefully and see where we’re all at and just have a check in.