Blood Youth – “We were always going to go heavier and darker”

An interview with front man Kaya Tarsus

Blood Youth – “We were always going to go heavier and darker”

By Dave Stewart

Mar 10, 2019 12:59

As metal bands grow in both maturity and popularity, it seems almost commonplace that they take a different approach to appeal to a wider audience. They will continue to stick to their roots and pay their respects to their core sound, but will add new aspects to their music to make them that little bit more accessible to new ears. Blood Youth have just done the very same, but not in the way you'd expect. They're just getting heavier, and their goal remains exactly the same as it’s always been. To play huge shows.

“We’ve always been used to fitting any bill,” explains front man Kaya Tarsus. “When we first started we played little shows with Neck Deep and PVRIS, and obviously we played metal shows. The shows just got bigger and bigger.” The run up to this point in their career has already presented them with some huge opportunities, with their last record ‘Beyond Repair’ keeping them on the road for almost two years solid. “We played an arena with Prophets Of Rage,” recalls Kaya. “We did think to ourselves “how have these songs got us on this stage?” So we wanted to write songs that would fill up those rooms better and provide more of a show.” One listen of their new record ‘Starve’ will clearly show that’s exactly what they’ve achieved, cramming it full of tracks huge enough to slay giants
“When we came to the end of the ‘Beyond Repair’ cycle, we were very uncomfortable with the idea that we’d been pigeonholed as a band,” Tarsus explains. “It did so much for us and we love that album, but there were a lot of people that thought “this is what they’ll sound like forever”, and we really didn’t like that. We were always gonna go heavier and darker, that was always the plan.”
The end result of that plan is by far their heaviest effort to date, with nu-metal vibes oozing out of every pore. But it doesn’t sound like a different band – it is without doubt a Blood Youth record. Kaya puts this down to the varying influences in the band. “Everybody in the band has their own tastes and listens to different things. Chris, our guitarist who writes the riffs, loves nu-metal and extreme metal. I’ve always loved lyrics-based music like hip hop, bands like Touché Amore and La Dispute. The writing process was like all of our influences head-butting each other – in a good way.”
This isn’t just a musically different affair for Blood Youth – it’s lyrically different too. The words delve into territory that the band haven’t walked in before, it’s very sensitive and personal ground for them. “I fell into this mad depression and it fucked me up so much,” Kaya painfully described. “‘Starve’ makes the all the other releases look like a wedding party.”
“I really wanted to stop writing about an ex girlfriend,” he continued. “After ‘Closure’, and even after ‘Beyond Repair’ I felt like I was so done with that era. We toured that album so much, and we do love doing that. But by the time I came home and I was back in reality, back in a room with no one to speak to, it felt really strange. By the time it came to writing lyrics for the album I had a stomach ulcer, I was coughing up blood, I was seeing doctors because I was so stressed, and that inspired all the lyrics – it’s why it’s so dark. I didn’t know depression until that exact moment.”
It turned out that Kaya wasn’t alone, though. After opening up to his bandmates, it seemed they were all very much in the same boat. “They all said they’d been going through the same things,” he remembers, “but didn’t want to tell anyone because “surely you can’t complain about touring all the time”. That opening up inspired a lot of the songs. I still wrote all the lyrics, but they came from a different place.” 
Blood Youth – “We were always going to go heavier and darker”
This record plays an enormous part in the revival of the U.K. scene, which has been on the receiving end of a lot of fresh blood in recent years. Attendance at local shows and originality in the scene had started to hit an all time low, but things have been turning around in a big way
Maybe around 2015 or 2016, I felt like there wasn’t much going on,” Kaya elaborates. “Pop punk was booming so much that everybody and their mum was in a pop punk band. At that point in time, I felt like everyone was just writing the same songs over and over again. That just sort of stopped happening, and now there’s lots of new and exciting bands that have come out of nowhere that are really shaking it up. Lots of UK bands are signing to American labels, which is really cool”.
“In the past year everything has got a lot heavier, too,” he continues. “Heavy music is really coming back, as is extreme music. I’m really enjoying bands like Venom Prison, and I love that that kind of music is coming back as well.” 
The rest of this year and the entire album release cycle will act as therapy for Blood Youth, as they intend to dive straight back into touring life and ram these songs into your ears. Their first port of call is a headline run through the U.K. and Europe. This is another big step forward for the band, as Kaya told me, “We’re always the support band, so it feels really weird being the headline band”.
Along for the ride are Palm Reader and Lotus Eater, two huge breaths of fresh air within the metal scene. “They’re two really cool bands,” Kaya agreed. “We’ve known about Palm Reader for ages, and Lotus Eater are coming up fast too. It’s a heavy show, and we’re really looking forward to all the dates.” 
Speaking about the dates, Kaya excitedly spoke about changing the pace up for the first time. “We’re really looking forward to playing the slower songs off the new record. Our set has always been really fast, and sometimes we’d come off stage feeling like it went by so quickly. It’s gonna be really cool to slow it down a bit and see how it is live, because we’ve never done anything like that before”.
As for goals for the rest of the year, Blood Youth, as always, are planning on keeping busy. “We’re gonna be touring a lot and playing lots of festivals in support of the record for sure, but we never know what’s around the corner. We could get a call tomorrow that says “you’re doing this for 3 weeks” and we’ll do it”. 
With Blood Youth’s history, that call could be to perform with any band from any genre. But Kaya is especially keen to share the stage with one legendary metal band. “I’ve always been a huge fan of Mastodon, and I’d love to do something with them,” he exclaims. “’Crack The Skye’ was one of my favourite albums when I was growing up. It would be a tough crowd, but I’d love to gig with them”.
Blood Youth remain one of the hungriest and most determined bands in the UK, and ‘Starve’ is the perfect representation of that. Make sure you catch them on the road when they inevitably hit a venue near you this year. 
‘Starve’ is out now on all major platforms via Rude Records.