Catching Up With The Young Things’ Josh Hammer


New York-natives The Young Things have had a busy two years since their formation. Having shared the stage with some of the bigger names on a local and national level, the band is steadily building a strong following. This past Wednesday, they finished up a month-long residency at Bowery Electric in New York and have a busy few months ahead. Before their gig, caught up with guitarist Josh Hammer to chat about the band, what they’ve learned and what’s to come.

Daniel Kohn: After finishing your residency at Bowery Electric, what’s next on the agenda?

Josh Hammer: We got a whole bunch of stuff coming up that we’re all really amped about. We’re heading down to SXSW and have a big party down there.  We know a ton of people playing and throwing shows, so it’s gonna be a little NYC-on-Austin experience.  Then we’re starting work on our first full-length record.  We’re actually tracking some demos in Brooklyn this Saturday with our producer Chris, so that should be a great time.  Apart from that, we’re gonna keep playing and writing and recording.  I also think we’re going to play some big house party upstate soon, but I forgot where…

DK: How would you describe your sound?

JH: I always have a hard time answering this question. Here’s our general approach, we try and take something really dark and interesting and weird, then throw some 60s pop flourishes to it.  We get off on the tension between the two.  Lots of sharp turns, but at the same time, nothing too alienating.  If a song doesn’t have a pop, well-written nugget at the core, you’re not gonna want to hear it more than once, I don’t care how good the production or vocalist is or whatever.

DK: How and when did the band form?

JH: We formed about two years ago.  Mike and I met in London and started writing tracks together. After that, we moved back to New York City and started a band.  We brought on Neil, who’s an amazing bassist who I’ve known forever, and Jon, another amazing musician and partner-in-crime.  The first night the four of us hung out properly, one of us, and it wasn’t me, got so drunk they spent the night in the subway station.  From then on we knew we had something.

DK: Having shared the stage with artists like Jesse Malin, Har Mar Superstar and others, what have you learned from performing with these veteran musicians?

JH: I’ve learned how awesome these guys truly are. You kind think, while on the way up, that when you meet people who you idolize that they’re gonna be huge dicks.  But it’s the opposite, and you realize the reason why they’re successful is that they’re all good, decent, hard-working people. Jesse’s an amazing dude, so is Har Mar, so is Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith).  I’ve also learned a shitload about stage presence.  You watch these guys and think to yourself, “Fuck, I should do that on stage.”

DK: Besides SXSW, does the band have any plans to play outside of New York?

JH: Yeah we’re organizing a Midwest and Southern tour for the summer.  I also think we’re heading up to Toronto so that should be fun.  It’s great to play out of New York, but it’s always awesome to come home.  No place like it.



DK: Who are some of the band’s major influences (at least the ones you can agree on)?

JH: We’re all children of the New York scene, but obvious classics get in there.  We all listen to The Strokes, The Beatles, The Libertines, The Stones, Ryan Adams, and tons more.  But those are the biggest influences for sure.  When we write it’s interesting to hear where these influences take us.  I’ll write a guitar line that’s kind of influenced by Pete Doherty, or Nick Valensi, and then Jon will drop a Ringo drumbeat.  That’s our key to success, just being weird fans of good music.
DK: What can we expect to hear from the band in the coming months?

JH: A lot, we just recorded a song for the Occupy Wall Street compilation, “Dead End Street,” which is a Kinks cover. We had such a great time that we’re heading go back to that studio in Brooklyn to spend a few months working on our full length. We’ve had such a crazy 2011 of playing and partying, that I think we’re all really looking forward to being creative again.  After a year of playing the same songs, it’s so awesome to have some new material to showcase.  We wrote a song last night called “That was then, this is too” that is so good it hurts. We’re playing a show here for our residency in a few hours, and i think we’re gonna open with it. It’s literally 9 hours old, but we just can’t wait.
DK: Hailing from Wantagh originally, what would it be like to perform on-stage at Jones Beach?

JH: Jones Beach is a great venue, but give me the garden! In all seriousness it would be awesome, I remember seeing my first concert there, which was actually Janet Jackson. Looking back, Janet Jackson kinda sucks, but I’d love to be on that stage.

You can hear the band’s songs on their website and songs are available for download there as well.