Younghusband

Wryly Humble

Dec 16, 2015 Photography by Suzy Creamcheese Issue #55 - November/December 2015 - EL VY
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Euan Hinshelwood isn't a strutting, narcissistic, ego-fuelled frontman. In fact, the London-bred founder of Younghusband is self-deprecatingly frank to a fault. 

"I wouldn't call myself a careerist," Hinshelwood says. It's one of many offhanded and modest moments in our chat. The guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist, and (though he'd never admit it) mastermind behind Younghusband's unique blend of lo-fi psychedelica and shoegaze says he doesn't "wake up everyday and write songs. I write songs when I have a bunch to write. And then I put a record out when I think they're good. I know if I did stuff when I wasn't feeling like doing it, it wouldn't be great."

That nonchalant process has helped him pen the tunes for both Younghusband's 2013 debut, Dromes, and their new follow up, Dissolver. On the new LP, Hinshelwood's breezy, yearning vocals sound like the best 1960s garage rocker you've never heard of, over riffs revved up by reverb that are classy but speedy, as if he were flooring the accelerator of a vintage sports car instead of the pedal for his guitar. Produced by Robert Hampson—guitarist of the acclaimed underground alt-rock troop Loop, who Hinshelwood cites as a key influence—Dissolver opens with the flaring guitar riffs of "Waverly Street." Other highlights include the chiming minimalist solo and sing-along melancholy chorus of "Broken Girls," the late era Beatles-esque breakdowns of "Only For You," and the gritty riffing on the title track.

Today, Hinshelwood is only 28, but he's already had a considerably long career. At 13 he began playing open mics at his local pub in the London borough of Watford, forming an amateur act called New Shapes that dissolved before long. But his time bandying about the scene led to roadie opportunities, and by the age of 15 he was following many of his hometown heroes on tour.

After a few years of being a crew member, he began penning and recording his own bare bones song fragments in the bedroom of his childhood home, many of which would become tunes on Dromes. During roadie gigs, Hinshelwood befriended Adam Beach (guitars/keys), Joe Chilton (bass/guitars), and Pete Baker (drums/percussion/keys), who were often in the bands that he was setting up soundchecks for. They all got on enough, and felt enough chemistry during impromptu downtime jams, to form their own group, releasing songs that Hinshelwood had taped on a reel-to-reel in his parents' home, and touring locally behind those songs. Before long, major British outlets like BBC 6 Music and the NME were lauding Younghusband.

But that early buzz hasn't gone to Hinshelwood's head. Indeed, he admits his muses for those early tunes, and even his band's name, were far from sophisticated or dynamic.
"I was reading a book called Seven Years in Tibet while on holiday in France. Well, I didn't read it. I opened the first page, and saw the words 'young husband' on the page, they really popped out at me," he concedes, readily but sheepishly, of choosing his band's name.

He employed an equally slapdash approach while choosing the cover art for Dissolver, recalling with a chuckle: "It was a nightmare. We were lounging around, doing absolutely nothing in Portugal after Primavera. And we got a call from our label saying we had three days to get artwork in. So I spent another two days without doing it. Then I reached out to an artist friend, Luke Frost, who had also done the cover art for Dromes, and gave him all kinds of pictures of some of my favorite album covers, in order to get some inspiration."

They settled upon the cover art for John Lennon's 1969 LP Live in New York City, one of Hinshelwood's all-time favorites, with its simple red lettering and black background. As it turned out, the young musician's rendition of that album cover would be even more minimalistic than the original.

"We didn't have enough time to get a picture together, so we had to use old prints from [the artwork of] our first record, and photocopied them on, so it's a bit hacked together," Hinshelwood says, his grin audible at this point. He adds: "Look, at least I'm being honest about it." His frankness grows a little more serious before long though. Despite the positive press that Younghusband has received in their native U.K., Hinshelwood has no delusions about it leading to immediate stardom. "I'd be happy to just put out more records and continue touring," he says. "At this point, I can't hope for more than to put out records and have people like them, and maybe get a few hundred people at shows every night. Maybe next time we'll make a record that appeals to everyone else. But I think things are very limited for bands like us."

When pressed about why he thinks that's the case—after all, it wouldn't be a stretch to assume that fans of legendary acts like Pavement would also adore Younghusband—Hinshelwood says: "I'm not being facetious, I'm just realistic about what we're doing. We're not going to change to try and be bigger. We know who we are, and we're enjoying it." 

[Note: This article first appeared in the digital version (for tablets and smart-phones) of Under the Radar's November/December Issue. This is its debut online.]

www.facebook.com/YoungHusbandMusic/

www.soundcloud.com/o-younghusband-o

 



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