Black Kids' Reggie Youngblood
Published Aug 27, 2008While thousands of bands spend their entire lives never receiving the attention they crave, every day there's a new buzz band clogging blogs, magazines and forums, getting praise for a new song, album or fashion choice. Jacksonville, FL's Black Kids unexpectedly found themselves in a media blizzard last fall when they gave away their Wizards of Ahhhs EP via their MySpace page. With neon-bright melodies and cheery exuberance, the five-piece quickly became the band to blog about, forcing them to open up their schedule and play gigs, as well as begin recording that crucial debut LP. Hiring former Suede guitarist and esteemed producer Bernard Butler (Duffy, the Cribs, Sons & Daughters), the band entered the studio where rumours circulated over their disappointment about the album's results. Though it was released to mixed reviews, Partie Traumatic is undoubtedly a vibrant record filled with enormous anthems and colourful spirit. It would be almost impossible for Black Kids to actually record an album that would live up to all the hype but as front-man Reggie Youngblood says via email, "We like the record," which, in the end, is all that matters.
Does the band consider all of the hype from the Wizard of Ahhs EP to be a blessing or a curse?
A bit of both. On one hand, without the "hype," we would've undoubtedly disbanded by now. We weren't in a position to devote ourselves to music full time. So, if Wizard hadn't received so much attention, we'd still be dickin' around. On the other hand, actually... there is no other hand; it's just been heavenly.
Did all of that hype put any pressure on you while you were recording the album?
Not really. Were too dumb to know when we should be feeling pressure. From who? We only care about ourselves. So it was essential that we liked the record. And we do.
Were you feeling that you needed to release it quickly to keep up the momentum?
I suppose. There was demand to see us perform live, and since Wizard is only a digital entity, we thought it prudent to release a record.
How much of the album was written when you released the EP? Was any of the songwriting affected by your overnight popularity?
Seventy percent. Was the songwriting affected? No. We just kept goofing off.
What made you choose Bernard Butler as the album's producer? Were you fans of his past work? And how did he contribute to the album?
We chose Bernard because he's a legend to us. And he has pretty eyes. And he's like us, in that he draws from several different schools of pop music: guitar rock (Suede), soul/R&B (McAlmont & Butler), awesomeness (see solo records).
What are you hoping the listener gets out of Partie Traumatic?
Well, when Weezer's debut album was released, it pretty much ruled my life. I lost myself in what I thought of as ten perfect pop songs that were about girls, D&D, girls, comic books, girls, and nonsense. On top of that, it made me anxious to get my heart broken; I wanted to feel every emotion that Rivers sang about. So, that's what we wanted to do: make a teenager's record, really. Non-teens seem to enjoy it, too.
Does the title reveal anything about the record?
Well, the record is somewhat the result of some years of excess and the huge come down that follows. Also, it's a nod to a late Woodstock folkie who taught me something on guitar.
I read the band used to write songs that were considered Christian. Does that faith still play a role in Black Kids' music?
Only in one song, really: "Look At Me (When I Rock Wichoo)." That song's about a philanderer trying to seduce a devout, chaste girl who's dating Jesus.
How did you end up on Columbia? Since you were such an independent sensation, I was a little surprised by the major label deal.
Well, we signed to a major in the UK first and we do well over there. So, Columbia was keen off of that alone. I guess. Also, Merge wasn't callling.
What is your reaction to the Pitchfork review of your album? They really praised your EP, and helped kick-start the buzz, so I imagine it must have stung a little, especially since they didn't even explain their reaction with any text.
We like the record.
I hear an overwhelming fondness for the '80s, like in Reggie's lyrical romanticism and the synth-heavy arrangements. Is that a period the band consider to be influential?
Sure. But even the '80s were informed by the two decades prior, so that figures into what we do quite a bit. Oh, and let's not sniff at the '90s. We fucking love that decade. People always shit on it, but it held it's own, AND THE VIDEOS! So, so good.
Reggie, you use some androgyny in his lyrics. Was there any sort of objective writing in such a way?
It's just a lazy way for me to make a mundane lyric a bit more interesting. I'm surprised when people take issue with it when it's been done by so many others before me. Admittedly, I do have some girly tendencies. No, I'm not saying...