We were missing this band so bad! So, since their
So I was fortunate enough to get some time with Mr. Todd Youth and interview him a little bit, that very same afternoon before the show. Todd Youth could probably be the kindest, most patient and of course super mega fucking cool and amazing rocker I have ever met. But yet again, so was Wednesday 13, so fuck, difficult choice. Sitting down at a table inside the empty Electric Ballroom we started a conversation where I often just listen in awe to this guy who you can certainly see playing bass live for Agnostic Front at 12 YEARS OLD ONLY (check the vid here: utube (he can be seen there clearly as a lil' kid, from exactly minute 6.00 onwards, wow).
So here goes the interview:
Rachel - Hello! We're here with Mr. Todd Youth!!
Todd Youth - Hello!
Rachel - We're here.
Todd Youth - I'm here!
Rachel - He's here.
Todd Youth - I'm happy to be here.
Rachel - Yeah we're at the Electric Ballroom in
Todd Youth - Yeah, we did 15 shows in a row, no days off!
Rachel - What was the best show you remember now?
Todd Youth - The best show so far was Glasgow in Scotland, because it was a small sweaty little rock club and, the further up north you know I think, because you are in London is more like in New York and LA where people have so many shows to go to, the further up north you go they don't get that much... so when bands do come they are just like yeaaaahhhh!!! you know what I mean. It was a great show. Even though last night we played in
Rachel - And how happy are you to be touring with Wednesday 13?
Todd Youth - Well I mean I've been friends with all the guys in the band for a long long time, we have the same management, we're on the same label, you know this tour reminds me a lot of in 2005, when The Chelsea Smiles and the Backyard Babies did a US tour together, so this one reminds me a lot of that tour.
Rachel - Are you happy to play here in the Electric Ballroom where so many other cool punk rock bands have played in the past?
Todd Youth - Yeah yeah when I saw that on the itinerary I was like wow, this is gonna be good. And you know in
Rachel - How did you meet new guitarist RJ Ronqvillo, how did he get to be the new guitar player in the band?
Todd Youth - Well this is how it went down, cause you guys haven't seen soundcheck, right? (No we haven't) Ok now Skye left the band because he didn't want to play guitar anymore and he just wanted to be a frontman and he's, Skye is one of my best closest friends. So I met RJ doing session work in
Rachel - So, you're not singing anymore?
Todd Youth - No, no, I can't, it's done. I mean I do backup stuff but that's about it.
Rachel - Wow, I'm sorry about that. Your first record you recorded it in just 36 hours, how was the process of recording this one?
Todd Youth - This one. You know I’m a firm believer that rock n roll is all about capturing the energy in the moment, and even though we had, we worked with better producers and bigger studios we still went in and we did all the drums, all the bass and half of the rhythm guitars in seven hours. Then we took a lot more time doing the vocals and the guitars, and my friend Roger Manning who used to be in Jellyfish, and Beck's band came in and played some Hammond B3, kind of famous percussionist Louis Conte came and did all the percussion for us and we spent more time mixing, and, I wanted it to sound sonically a lot better than ‘36 Hours Later’. So we spent a little more time just making sure everything was right. But the actual performances you know as I said I'm such a firm believer of just capturing the moment. That's why all those records from the seventies, that we all still listen to and love 'cause that's how they were made. The first Black Sabbath record was recorded and mixed in twelve hours, you know what I mean, and they still kick the shit out of any metal record that comes out now, you know.
Rachel - You've been playing guitar since you were 12?
Todd Youth - Well I actually have been playing since I was five. I was five when my father was: here you go, and he gave me his guitar and started teaching me when I was five. My father was kind of a well-known session player in New York the late 50's and the early 60's, and my brother is a guitar player, so you know I kinda came from a long line of musicians. So yeah, my father taught me at first, yeah, and then when I was twelve is when I joined my first proper band that was Agnostic Front. But I was playing bass there, with Agnostic Front. At the time they hadn't a bass player and it was like, you know, at the time they were the biggest NY hardcore band at that point so I went like oooohh yeeahhh I'll do it!! And they went, ok cool!
Rachel - How can you be in a band at only 12 years old?
Todd Youth - There's a video on YouTube, if you go to You Tube and put "Agnostic Front Todd Youth", you'll see me at 12 years old playing bass.
Rachel - Ok I'll check it out! Right now which would you say is the record of your life? The one that you most listen to.
Todd Youth - Right now, the one I listen to a lot is Social Distortion's last record, ‘Sex, Love and Rock N Roll’. I'm really good friends with those guys, they've taken us on tour with them a lot and Mike has done a lot for the band but I don't know if it's because we both kinda came out at the same time, at that same era of the early American punk scene, or the American Hardcore scene. You know, I mean, Mike's older than me but, just his lyrics on that record really hit home to me and that's a record I've been listening to a lot, even though it came out like two years ago I still do. We’ve been listening to it today twice with the band on the way to the gig.
Rachel - What was the record that after listening to it made you think I wanna be in a rock n roll band?
Todd Youth - That would have to probably be Kiss' ‘Love Gun’, probably ‘Love Gun’.
Rachel - Do you see yourself playing with Kiss?
Todd Youth - Um... You know hey listen, if Tommy Thayer quits and they need it, I'll put on Ace's make-up, no problem!
Rachel - What's your favourite character?
Todd Youth - Ace. Yes, of course.
Rachel - Having played in so many bands, D-Generation, Agnostic Front, Musphy's Law and you have played for Danzig, Debbie Harry, Motorhead etc, I know it's a difficult choice, but who would you say you were the most happy playing with?
Todd Youth - Motorhead. Oh yeah, I mean, to be onstage, you know, playing ‘Ironfist’, and ‘Ace Of Spades’. And actually my favourite song to play with them was ‘Metropolis’.. I was so excited when I got the setlist I was "yes, ‘Metropolis’ is in the setlist and ‘Damage Case’ too!!!
Rachel - And you probably already knew the songs..
Todd Youth - Oh, I knew all the old stuff, I love "Fast" Eddie Clark, and you know he's in my top five, so I knew all the old songs.
Rachel - You sure know Glen Danzig very well, he's a legend, what would you say about him, is he an easy-going guy, was it easy to work with him?
Todd Youth - Glenn, you know it's so funny because he's got such a bad rap, and he's one of the funniest people I've ever met you know, he's really funny and he took really good care of his band, here really took care of us well and he wasn't hard to work with. It's just, you know, if you going into it you've got to just understand that the band is called Danzig, it's his band, and that's how it is and as long as you know that you're going into it. I think what happens to a lot of musicians is that they go and they think that they are gonna put their spin on it, or that this or that and, the band's called Danzig, and, you know
Rachel - Erm, I should have asked you this before but do you remember any thing special that Lemmy ever told you while you were touring with him?
Todd Youth - Yeah, I mean there were so many nights where, well, all right, do you wanna hear a good Lemmy story? All right, I wake up, it's ten o'clock in the morning, we're outside this venue in Virginia, Lemmy's still up from the night before, he hasn't slept yet, it's ten o'clock in the morning, and I'm all like aahhh man where's catering, I gotta get some coffee, and he's got a tumbler full of Jack and Coke, he's got a Marlboro in his hand and he goes, (big sniff), he does a big line of speed and he goes, "coffee won't keep you awake".
Rachel - Ahahahahahaha!!!! That's a good story hahahaha. Now a lil' bit of a boring question, how do you see the record industry now, since you've been involved in it most of your life?
Todd Youth - You know, I try to get not too wrapped up into the whole industry side because if I did I'd probably quit, because as a musician you just constantly, constantly get shit on. And I'm still such a fan of music and I think that's what's just kept me going, as I still love discovering new bands, or discovering an old band I've never heard of before, you know, and I think that's what's just kept me young.
Rachel - And what are your plans for The Chelsea Smiles and Son Of Sam, and what's your priority right now?
Todd Youth - The
Rachel - Do you like Jesse Malin's records?
Todd Youth - Yeah I mean it's probably because I know Jesse so well and I know what he loves as a songwriter, as a musician and everything. I mean, Jesse's great, he's great in what he does; he's a great story teller.
Rachel - Do you like "Chinese Democracy"?
Todd Youth - You know there's some stuff on there I really like, there is, like the song ‘Chinese Democracy’. I think it’s great and what else it is that I would take off it, ‘Sorry’ I think it's a great song. There's a few there I really like, I don't think it's a Guns N Roses record, you know but it's a cool record, and I'm friends with a lot of the guys in the band now. I mean I'm friends with the old guys too but I'm friends with a lot of the guys in the band now, so it's kinda like, it's almost like, you get to kinda see how Axl's mind works, 'cause it's all over the place. Even a song like ‘Shackler's Revenge’, like as a Guns N Roses fan you'd probably go like, ugh, but if you just take it away and listen to as a song it's a pretty fucking rocking song, the guitar playing is fucking insane on it, you know, so I don't hit on it, but it's not ‘Appetite’, you know, I don't think twenty years from now people are still gonna be talking about it the way the way they do about ‘Appetite’.
Rachel - You have covered songs by Johnny Thunders amongst many others, but about Johnny, did you ever have the chance to see him live?
Todd Youth - Yeah I've seen Johnny, you know, I grew up in the Lower East Side of
Rachel - Have you been to any of the
Todd Youth - Yeah, we opened up for them! Yes we did two in LA, one in
Rachel - You have made a lot of your dreams come true musically!
Todd Youth - I've been a lucky guy you know, I mean lately I've been playing for Glenn Campbell, so yeah I've been lucky I got to play with a lot of my heroes.
Rachel - What fellow musicians have influenced you the most and with which ones have you enjoyed the most your collaboration?
Todd Youth - My biggest influence as a player obviously is really Johnny Thunders. I mean Chuck Berry too, obviously because that's where they got it from, ‘Fast’ Eddie Clark from Motorhead like I said, James Williamson from The Stooges, Wayne and Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith from MC5, those are the guys that I worship, those are my guys. And the people I've collaborated with, I've collaborated with so many people, so many good musicians in my life that it's like, it's almost like you know, you get something different out of each.
Rachel - Did you learn something special from someone?
Todd Youth - Yeah, I've learnt a lot of good stuff and I've learnt a lot of bad stuff. I've learnt what to do and what not to do from a lot of people. A lot of it I've learnt on my own too, for the bad stuff ‘cause I didn't listen.
Rachel - What’s your routine as a composer, how do you make your songs?
Todd Youth - It varies you know, sometimes I'd just be sitting on the couch playing guitar, watching TV, and it's like, oh wow all right, it's like it comes, you know. Other times I actually sit down and go, ok, even if it's just as an exercise I'm gonna write a song today. I read something about Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys he made sure that every day, whether it was a good song or a crap song he'd still sat down on the piano and wrote a song every day. So I go through periods when I do that and, it seems like for me, I have these bursts of like, because you know the new Chelsea Smiles record and the Son Of Sam record, were basically wrote at the same time, so it's like all the stuff will come boom, boom, boom and then I'll dry up for a little while. And if there's something that's inspiring me whether it's a fucked up relationship, or a great relationship, or a movie, or a book or whatever and then it all suddenly starts happening again and it's oh ok here we go again, you know.
Rachel - And how can you do such different styles of music at the same time, The
Todd Youth - You know that I think a lot of that goes back to my father and the music I learnt as a kid growing up, because he told me at a really young age, there's only two kinds of music. I was like oh I’m punk rock and blah blah blah and he was like, there's just two kinds of music, there's good music and there's bad music and that's all there is, other that that it's just labels that people put on it.
Rachel - As a fan, when were you the most excited when meeting or playing with any of your heroes?
Todd Youth - Well, meeting Ace was pretty heavy. Meeting Lemmy for the first time was really like I was wow, you know.
Rachel - You know, Wednesday told us the same about Ace
Todd Youth - Yeah, he's the guy, you know he was the coolest when you were a little kid, you know, you actually wanted to be the Spaceman!
Rachel - Were you ever disappointed with ever meeting any of them?
Todd Youth - No, 'cause most of the people that I met were in some sort of working kind of thing, so there was that mutual respect there from the beginning, like, ok I'm here to be playing either your record or your tour, so, whatever it was, you know what I mean. So I haven't had that bad experience yet of meeting someone and thinking, man, what an asshole! Even when I met, you know a lot of people when they meet Gene Simmons that's what they say man what a fucking asshole. I met Gene Simmons and he just came up to me and said, "you got a good look kid" and I was like, wow! All right, you know.
Rachel - What did recording and playing live with Glenn Campbell meant to you?
Todd Youth - Well it's funny because it was when I'd rejoined Danzig and I did a tour again in 200, I guess and he wanted me to go out again with him this year and I'd done, I'd played on Glenn Campbell's new record and I had both of them on the table, like I could go out and play with Glenn Campbell and I could go out with Glenn Danzig, you know, what am I gonna do? And I just felt like, here's this musical challenge, this is something I've never, ever done before and we were coming here to the UK to do Jools Holland and we were doing a date with the BBC Symphony. I was gonna rehearse in Abbey Road Studios, with the BBC Symphony, I was like, man what do I do, do I go on the big rock tour with the girls and the bus and the booze and all the stuff, or do I as a musician step away from that for a second and do something different. And I just made the decision to do. And it was funny because I was talking to my father about it, you know of all the things I've done, like my father's seen me playing with Motorhead, he's seen me playing with Danzig, you know, and he was always like, when I was playing with Danzig I had three full stacks onstage and I'm like, look dad look at all this and he was like, "you need all this shit?" And you know in Motorhead I had four full stacks and he was "you really need all this?" and I call him up and tell him “hey I'm playing on cheap Trick's new record which is coming out this year” and he was like "yeah yeah yeah", you know, and I tell him I've done this session or that session work and he goes "oh yeah ok". Then I tell him, Dad, I just played on Glenn Campbell's new record, and he goes: "Oh my god!! This is your big break!!” you know what I mean. And when I told him my decision, cause I was talking to him through it all like, I don't know what to do and when I told him I'm not gonna do the Danzing tour, I'm gonna go with Glenn Campbell, he told me "Todd, to people my age that is just as good as playing with Elvis Presley". So to get that acceptance finally from him and as a musician, it meant so much to me. And it was such a great experience and I still play with Glenn occasionally, you know, I just did a few shows onstage with him recently. And it's a great experience 'cause it's such a different thing musically for me.
Rachel - And what about Elvis Presley, I guess you must be a fan?
Todd Youth - I love Elvis, I love Elvis, I love the Sun stuff, and I love the Vegas era, and this band that he had in Vegas man this band was nasty, those guys were playing their asses off. That whole person in the middle there, you can just forget about it.
Rachel - You don't know which Elvis to choose, the 50's or the 70's, it's difficult.
Todd Youth - It's almost like two different guys, you know.
Rachel - When are you going back to play live in
Todd Youth - Well that's what we have been trying to do, to make this tour happen within the next six months, hopefully, with Bullets and Octane we'll come and do a tour together.
Rachel - Now that you're coming back to the
Todd Youth - We've been talking about maybe doing some Son Of Sam dates in the States, we'll definitely do a Chelsea Smiles west coast run, you know the record's not out there yet, so once it comes out, then we'll start. You know, well obviously the Dolls have a new record coming out so I'll be making a phone call "hey guys!!” You know what I mean. You know with The Chelsea Smiles it seems it's always been that way, it's like when the Dolls ask us “hey guys you wanna come open for us”, the Backyard Babies “you wanna come open for us”, Social Distortion “you wanna come open for us”, Wednesday “hey you wanna come do the UK with us”, you know, because I've been friends with these guys for so long.
Rachel - Oh yeah and how was your tour with the Backyard Babies by the way?
Todd Youth – Oh, that was a crazy tour, yeah it was, cause we were all in one bus together and I ended up in rehab after that tour, put it that way!
Rachel - Ok! So, how do you like living in the west coast, being it’s so different from NY city?
Todd Youth - The
Rachel - Hey where do you usually hang out when you go out at night?
Todd Youth - Oh you know, I'll go to the Viper Room, Burgundy Room, Rainbow, that kinda spots.
Rachel - Have you ever had a day job?
Todd Youth - Yeah, I've had to hustle here and there I mean, I worked in a record store in New York called Bleaker Bob, when I was in D-Generation I used to bartend at Continental, a club in New York on 3rd. Ave, and that's about it.
Rachel - How was it like to tour with Social Distortion back in 2006?
Todd Youth - Yeah, that band, every night, Mike Ness, he's one of my favourite songwriters and every night that band delivers, he puts on such a great show every single night, no matter if he's in a bad mood, in a good mood, if he's sick, whatever it is. I've learnt a lot from him, that's one of those good learning experiences, cause every night I just sat there and watched, every night, and I learnt a lot about working a crowd from Mike.
Rachel - In your new
Todd Youth - Ok, first, the reason we covered ‘The Last Time’ is one time at a soundcheck with Social D, Nessy came up onstage and he was "hey man, let's play something man", and I'm like, "which Stones' song man?" and he's "what about ‘The Last Time’, you know, and I'm like, allright, cool! And we did it but we did kind of a Social D kinda punk version of it and then from that point on we started playing it ourselves every night on that tour. That's how it ended up and I always like to throw one cover on a record, because who knows there might be some kid who doesn't know, and I’m like all right why don't you go back and listen to that, because to me, ‘The Last Time’ is as snotty and as punk rock as ‘All Of This And More’ from The Dead Boys. It's still very punk rock, it was very easy for us to turn it into a faster one, and it didn't take much work you know. My favourite stones' song of all time... um... I can't, there's too many! (I know, c'mon, just one...) I, I couldn't. (Whatever one that comes first right now to your mind) Oh, man, ‘Loving Cup’! Well, anything off ‘Exile’, I mean there's not a bad song, anything off ‘Exile On
Rachel - And what about Keith?
Todd Youth - Yeah I got to meet Keith a couple of times. That was one of those moments when I was like, (tongue tied) you know what I mean, really freaked out. And one of the times I played with Ronnie Spector during a Christmas show he got up and played ' Run Rudolph Run'.
Rachel - So you have played with him then?
Todd Youth - Yeah, yea, I mean I wouldn't consider, I mean I was just like, “oh my god, oh my god, I'm on stage with Keith Richards & Ronnie Spector”. You know what I mean. I actually have a video of it and you can see the look on my face.
Rachel - Ok just a couple more questions, is there anything you'd like to say to your fans?
Todd Youth - You know I cannot wait to go back to
Rachel - Great. Can I be a roadie for your next tour?
Todd Youth - For the
Rachel - Deal!
Todd Youth - That's a deal right? You could do merch!
Rachel - I'll do it, whatever you want. Thanks a lot Todd, you've been so cool.
Todd Youth - Cool, awesome, no problem.
A couple of hours after that, we enjoyed the show like crazy, with the special surprise at the end of their set, a killer cover of the no-words- can-describe-how-cool-it-is Michael Monroe's "Dead, Jail Or Rock N Roll", with Todd Youth setting his guitar on fire and then trashing it.
Thank you Mr. Todd Youth!!! We love you!!!!!!!!!!!
Son Of Sam MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/officialsonofsam
For more live pictures of the show you can go to this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/noclassphoto/sets/72157616439419226/
Videos of the interview
Interview by Rachel 03.04.2009
All pics by NoClassPhoto.
Special thanks to Jen @ Global Music Ltd