Let ’em roar
Though their high-energy, underdog aggression would peg Young Lions as some sort of punk band, they aren’t easily assigned to any genre. “When we started this band, it wasn’t like we wanted to go for any particular sound or be a certain kind of band,” says guitarist/vocalist Josh Hageman. “We just wanted to write some songs.”
“Well, I had a goal,” says bassist/vocalist Ty “Fighter” Williams, “and that was to get Josh to play guitar in a band again.”
Hageman and Williams have been creative partners in musical projects ranging from the hardcore Tate-LaBianca to the pop Pink Black and the Dischord-inspired Disconnect. Tate-LaBianca and Disconnect are now defunct, but Pink Black, fronted by the charismatic Casey Schumacher and featuring Williams on guitar and Hageman on drums, is going strong. In addition, Hageman bangs the drums for the politically-motivated Bafabegiya and records and performs songs for his solo project, No Gods, No Girlfriends.
Hageman had been known (locally and around the globe) for his guitar playing in This Computer Kills and Tate-LaBianca, but a year ago, when Young Lions first started, Hageman wasn’t playing guitar in a band. ’Twas indeed a pity. Drummers are harder to come by than guitarists, and Hageman’s skills with a pair of sticks kept him in high demand.
But there was great rejoicing (in some quarters anyway) when Young Lions began playing shows because Hageman’s guitar is one of the most exquisite things to ever stroke an ear in the Reno area. Young Lions maintains the unique chemistry of the Williams-Hageman partnership and includes probably their best songs yet.
The trio is rounded out with drummer Troy Micheau, who has a keen ear for sympathetic accompaniment and an incredible ability to talk at length about any record ever made. Micheau is a Las Vegas transplant who sang and played drums and guitar for bands with names like This Virus Makes Us Human and Jesus Fuck the Sun.
Micheau’s background as a guitarist and songwriter helps him be a tasteful drummer with just the right beats and builds and nary a superfluous fill. “I just think, ‘If I wrote this song, how would I want the drums to sound?'” he says.
Young Lions are a rare thing: a mature band. I don’t mean “x-rated” or “old as dirt.” It’s a group that has assimilated its members’ influences and experiences into a unique sound. Ninety percent of bands never make it past the pubescent stage of copping other acts’ moves. Young Lions have a thorough understanding of the history of rock music (they’re huge nerds) but an original approach to songwriting.
Young Lions often sound like pissed-off wimps, which is more compelling than the angry, tough thugs of metal and hardcore. In “Little Fist,” Hageman and Williams sing in enthusiastic harmony: “We’ve got these little fists at the end of our tiny wrists … Little legs beneath our waists, so we can run and find a better place.”
Songs like “Swim like Rats” and “The First Day of Summertime” have catchy, interlocking guitar and bass parts that wrap around each other like snakes in the throes of ecstasy. Hageman takes a lot of solos, all of which are melodic and off-kilter. He gets a dazzling array of tones, textures and sounds using a minimum of effects. All three Young Lions can be flashy or subtle as needed—everything in service of the individual songs.