In London it has been sunny for almost three days in a row, enough time for the city to build itself into a heatstroking, inappropriately attired frenzy. For the next week-and-a-half (two, if we're lucky) I will wear tiny shorts and listen to nothing but super-positive-teen-movie-roadtrip-beach-party-triumph-over-the-bullies megajams. "Billionaires" by Your Twenties is one such jam. It is euphoric and romantic. It makes me want to pump my fist and hold someone's hand at the same time. Frontman Gabriel Stebbing left Metronomy earlier this year to concentrate on making perfect three-minute summer soundtracks. I caught up with him to talk about holidays, shirt lights and Britpop.
Download: Your Twenties, "Billionaires"
What with the GLOBAL FINANCIAL MELTDOWN, "Billionaires" has become a pretty topical song.
It's a song born out of frustration about how an obsession with cash seems to get into every facet of life and distort what people are up to, their motives for things. This seems to occur in the music business as much as anywhere else, but it's not as if it's some blast at "commercial music"—I was thinking the other day how a track like "Single Ladies" (obviously a huge production for a global artist) is so great because although the writers are clearly gunning for a smash, the motivations of everyone involved in the track are clear as day: to make a GREAT record. When people's motivations for being in music are simply for cash, it's usually pretty transparent.
So you left Metronomy a few months ago. What was that like?
Well I'd been agonizing over it for ages, but in the end I talked it through with Joe and it was really straightforward. I gave him two months notice, so those last few weeks became really poignant, like a lap of honour! A lap of honour with Joe and Oscar taking the piss out of me the whole time—hoping I was looking forward to being back on the breadline, that sort of thing. I guess it got to the point where it was now or never with YTs, where I had to put the hours in to make it work. And I just didn't have the time, being in Metronomy too.
Will you miss the shirt light things?
Ah, I think I've paid my dues with those suckers. They were from the Pound Store, constantly breaking. Though they weren't uncomfortable. They were attached to our chests with the latest in Velcro technology.
Instead of "Metronomy bassist’s side project," Your Twenties will now be "former Metronomy bassist’s new band." By next summer I reckon Metronomy will be referred to as "Gabriel Your Twenties former band." You guys just toured together recently, how was that?
The tour went great. I mean, all members of both bands have known each other literally for years so it was a bit of a jolly. A bit too easy. We need to go on tour with a headline band who hates us to toughen us up a bit. I would say the only competition with Metronomy at the moment concerns reaching parity in rider terms, then overtaking them. I mean, their rider is pretty definitive at the moment. You know the scene in A Christmas Carol where Bob Cratchett presses his nose up against the window of a house where, inside, a family is tucking into a roast goose with all the trimmings? This tour was kind of like that.
Tell me about the tour-only cover CD Your Twenties have put together.
We rehearse in a blue room, so we thought we'd do three songs with Blue in the title. We've been chucking a cover of "Blue" by Elastica into our set on and off this year—it's such a cool song from one of our favourite bands, Donna's demo version of it is mind-blowing—and seeing as Blur are just everywhere this summer it seemed a neat fit to do one of their songs. "Blue Jeans" is a track from my current favourite LP of theirs and I kind of have similar sentiments about London at the moment. And we had to put a Buddy Holly track on there as he died 50 years ago and this year they should be playing exclusively Buddy on the radio. It's kind of disrespectful that they're playing anything else.
Last year your single "Caught Wheel" was the soundtrack to my summer. I’m going to Italy next week and plan to listen to "Billionaires" on repeat (I’m going to blast it from a car winding round a mountain next to a huge sun-splashed lake, my girlfriend will be driving and wearing a headscarf, I will be wearing chinos. It will be so awesome). What are your favourite holiday songs?
That is exactly how I pictured people listening to "Billionaires." Spot on. My songs:
The Beatles, "Good Day Sunshine"
Squeeze, "Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)"
The Beach Boys, "All Summer Long"
Antenna, "Camino del Sol"
Thus far, what is the best thing you’ve done in your twenties?
There's a lot. Currently, my favourite is having just produced the new single ["Billionaires"] with Stephen Street at the controls. If you'd told me back in the '90s when I was getting into The Smiths and Blur for the first time, that it was going to happen, I'd have slapped you.