Justin Young: "We Played This Place Called Club Nowhere in Fort Worth, That Was Opened By the Bouncer From the Apollo"
At some point in the near future, Justin Young might end up playing in every active band in Dallas. He recently filled with Menkena while also finding time to play with J. Charles and the Trainrobbers, Auxiliary Voice, Arm Tha Homeless and the beloved Hall & Oates cover band, The Rich Girls.
Just a few hours before a Trainrobbers practice, Young shared with us his musical firsts and explained how the hell he has time for all of these bands.
Was bass the first instrument you played?
I tried to play guitar for about a week. I actually started late; like, when I was 17. So I got a guitar and was like, "Hey, guitar is cool, but I just don't want to learn all these chords." I'm a horribly lazy guitarist. I'd rather just be a guitar player playing the root chord and following the drummer's stick pattern. I was a lazy kid and picked up bass. My first instrument was French horn in seventh grade. I played that for about six months. I didn't want to be a dork all the way through high school, more than I actually was.
Can you remember the first show you played with a rock band in high school?
Yes! We played this place called Club Nowhere in Fort Worth, that was opened by the bouncer from the Apollo, playing in a band called The Soft Method, which was the worst version of Weezer that we could possibly muster when we were 17 years old. Later on, we found out that it was the worst show that they ever had, according to the owner. So that's our claim to fame.
Who was the first band you obsessed about?
Doosu. It's weird now that I get to hang out with Casey Hess all the time. I don't think he realizes that in my mind I'm doing the whole, "Oh my God!" Them, and Red Animal War were the reason why I play bass. As far as national bands, Quicksand, Helmet, stuff like that.
When you were getting into music, was there a record that you absolutely hated but later really loved?
Gish, by Smashing Pumpkins. And it's because I heard Siamese Dream first and when I heard Gish, I was like, "Eh." I love it now. I could talk days about Pumpkins. In fact, me and Beau [Wagener] have been talking for a while about getting a Smashing Pumpkins tribute band together. Now that I truly think about it, Old 97's Wreck Your Life was probably the album that I hated upon first listen. That was my dad's music! Little did I know. I feel like John Cusack in High Fidelity now, changing my answers.
So how did it get to the point where you play in four different bands?
I really don't know. I guess just hanging out with the right people. I don't have the ability to say no to people, and not in a bad way. It's not like anybody can come up and say, "Hey, you want to play in a band?"
"Hey, we play Nickelback covers!"
I'd do it for fun. I'd do it to make fun. But if one of my buddies wanted to start a band that wants me to play, why am I going to say no to them? I got plenty of time. I love playing. I have people around me who appreciate that I'm in multiple bands because it makes me a better player. So why wouldn't I take it?
Since there haven't been that many Rich Girls shows, what do you remember about the first show, other than it being on New Year's Eve?
Alcohol. Lots of alcohol. I remember not realizing how hard Hall & Oates songs were to learn. I mean, when we walked into it, I was like, "Piece of cake. I got this." Bullshit. That stuff is insane to learn. I guess I was a sort of naïve Hall & Oates listener because I didn't realize how influenced they were by the Philly soul connection they have. It was tough. The first show, we barely got through it. I still feel like every show that we play is on the precipice of chaos.
Karen [McDowell, vocalist] mentioned to me how the lineup was different at first, involving a revolving guest vocalist. Is that right?
Our first show, I think it was Josh Robertson who sang for us and I think Nikki Cage came up and sang "Maneater." Kirk sang on "One on One" and Rhett from White Mountain sang on a couple of tunes. It kinda turned into collaborative effort and after that, me, Tony [Webb], [John] Solis and Kevin [Howard] really wanted to do it more. So we put together a lineup. Karen joined later. She was in the right place at the right time.
Roughly, when did Auxiliary Voice start?
Me and Matt had started writing about five years ago in his dad's church. We didn't really actually start playing until about two years ago. We went through seven drummers, like the Spinal Tap of Dallas. Once we found EJ and Tony, we started working on it and honing our sound. And moving to Chicago was a big hit for us. When we came back, we had a renewed sense of passion for what we were doing. We started getting into Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You, really cool ambient instrumental bands that are pretty vital to our sound now. We're not going to write any fast songs in the near future. Seven minutes or longer.
With Arm Tha Homeless, I remember talking with [Alan] Ayo when we worked together in the Metro Networks office. He told me he had a Rage Against the Machine cover band. I thought it was a great idea. Who suggested that?
It was a combination of Ayo and the lead singer, Robert Garza. Robert plays in Mad Mexicans with the guitar player of Arm Tha Homeless, Johnny. They said they've always wanted to do a Rage cover band. Why they asked me, I have no idea. Maybe because Tim [Commerford, Rage bassist] is a white bassist and I'm a white bassist, but that's beside the point. I really wanted us to be called Rage Against the Machine Part II, but they weren't into that.
With J. Charles, had they been a band when you joined them?
Yeah! They had been playing for about two years. Originally, they had Omar Yeefoon playing with them and he got a little busy. Jeff called me, we hung out at Double Wide quite a bit. It was like, "You're a drinking buddy. You know how to play bass. Why don't you come and try the stuff out?" I loved it. I had known of Steve [Visneau] for a long time, but I had never met him. The dude's just a sweetheart. The smiling-est drummer I've ever seen onstage.
What do you have going in the immediate future? Auxiliary Voice is finishing a new record . . .
Yeah, we have a record coming out in the fall. J. Charles has a record coming out in the fall, and August shows in the works. Pretty much, weekends are my time to play. I work throughout the week and once I hit the weekend, I work as well, but it's the kind of work I like to be doing.