By Georgia Corpe
Australia’s indie music darlings, Youth Group, are bringing back their much-adored album Skeleton Jar for a celebration of its 10 year anniversary. After years of being on hiatus, the group are back for a string of shows, having played Sydney Friday 26th June and set to play Melbourne (Friday 3rd July) TICKETS HERE and Brisbane (Saturday 4th July) TICKETS HERE.
Not only are they touring, but Youth Group have also released a very special 10 year anniversary version of Skeleton Jar on vinyl and have revived the much loved artwork curated by the band for the LP.
Skeleton Jar is the type of album that only requires one listen to draw you in, but will leave you putting that bad boy on repeat for years. An album that rises and falls with beautiful tones and melodies, sucking you in with Martin’s seemingly effortless and honest lyrics whilst maintaining that poetic quintessentially Australian quirk that leaves you feeling like you have just found the best kept secret in Australian music history. If you haven’t been lucky enough to experience the wonders of Skeleton Jar, we highly recommend.
Bear Family’s Georgia Corpe was lucky enough to chat with Toby Martin, singer and guitarist of Youth Group about the magic that is Skeleton Jar.
BF: Skeleton Jar was such a momentous album for you guys and means so much to Youth Group fans – can you tell us a little bit about how the album came together?
TM: ‘Twas the early years of the 21st Century. We had put out our first album and were in that weird moment that happens to lots of bands. The first few years everyone was interested. Then suddenly you’ve released an album, you’re 27, and you’re yesterday’s news. So when we came to make our 2nd record (Skeleton Jar) we felt like we pretty much just making it for ourselves.
It took a long time to record, more than a year. Many small cheap studios, and many casio and percussion overdubs. We lost three band members, and gained two. But it was deeply pleasurable. We got to indulge our every whim, and we had a fantastic producer in Wayne Connolly.
When we finished we thought it was so different to our first album, and we such a different band, that we even considered changing our name. Youth Club. Youth Music. Anyway, we never did settle on an alternative, but the record felt like a big step for us.
BF: On Youth Group’s Facebook page, you guys have reminisced about some fond memories around the time of recording/releasing Skeleton Jar back in 2003. Is there a particular memory that stands out for the band?
TM: Danny (drums) broke his foot a few days before we were due to record the song Skeleton Jar. Consequently he had to record his drum parts sans feet, and then overdub the kick pedal. This is not the way purists would have you record drums. But it worked for the song. Gave it its special kicky intensity!
BF: In January you guys played your first Skeleton Jar 10 year anniversary show in Newtown which sold out within days of the tickets going on sale. Did you ever expect there to be such an impressive turnout for the revival of Skeleton Jar?
TM: At the time of recording and releasing Skeleton Jar I would never had imagined people would be so interested in it 10 years later. But, over the last few years I have become aware that it seems to be a ‘special’ album for some people, so I was starting to get an inkling…
BF: After years of being on hiatus, tell us about what it’s like to get the ol’ gang back together for this tour?
TM: It’s great. We were all friends and liked eachother before being in a band together. And we’ve had some great experiences together. I think touring America in a small van, driving long distances, being tired, hungover can either be hell or the most magical experience of your life. For me it was the latter, and I would say that is mostly because we friends and were doing it together.
BF: As an Aussie band that really placed yourself in the American/UK indie rock scene, are there any local bands you’d like to see take off in the future?
TM: Dick Diver (I guess they already have taken off)
BF: We here at Bear Family are hoping this isn’t the last we see of Youth Group, any future plans for the band?
TM: We’re going to record another album next year. But we won’t play much when it comes out. Instead we will wait and do a ten-year anniversary. See you in 2026!
BF: Thanks for answering guys, enjoy the tour. Absolutely stoked we get to see you play. I have a ten year old Skeleton Jar t-shirt I bought when I was 12 at your Brisbane show supporting Coldplay. Still wear it on the regular.
TM: hah! Cool. You are one of the 3 people that bought our t-shirt on that tour!
Don’t miss out on tickets to the remaining two shows!
Bear Family will be at the Brisbane show with bells on – reviewing in awe.