Gordon Moakes isn’t the type of individual to take an extended holiday. When British indie rockers Bloc Party went on hiatus in 2009, the bassist used his spare time to launch a new musical venture. The 34-year-old partnered up with Paul Mullen -- vocalist and guitarist for rock band The Automatic and formerly of yourcodenameis:milo -- to form Young Legionnaire.
Considering their shared history, the new project shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. In 2006, yourcodenameis:milo decided to collaborate with other artists for the “Print Is Dead Volume 1” album. Moakes was one of many musicians tagged for the compilation and he recorded the effort’s leadoff single “Wait A Minute.”
Moakes has wanted to work with Mullen again for two reasons in particular. “One was 'Ignoto' by yourcodenameis:milo, which remains one of my favorite records of all time. “I think some of the melodic ideas on that record are completely unique,” he explains. “So that was the first thing, and the second was having worked with Paul on their collaboration record [‘Print Is Dead’] and realizing there was something there between us. The great thing with Paul is you get a great vocalist and a great guitarist in one person, so that's half a band right there. I play bass, so that's nearly whole band.”
The great thing with Paul is you get a great vocalist and a great guitarist in one person, so that's half a band right there.
Together, along with drummer Dean Pearson and producer Rich Jackson, Young Legionnaire recorded their well-rounded debut album “Crisis Works” and released it via Wichita Recordings. Throughout most of melodic 12-track collection, the trio fuses indie rock with a post-hardcore edge to create a pulsating assortment of heavy-driven compositions such as the riffy “Mortgage Rock,” the mega intense “Twin Victory” and the leadoff smash “Numbers.”
“It's supposed to be pretty raw sounding with the germs of more sort of sophisticated ideas peeking through at various points,” Moakes says. “If we'd had three times the time, those ideas might have started to overwhelm the immediacy of what we were trying to do, so I'm pleased there's just a few snippets and that it's basically pretty straight down the line in terms of power and volume.”
Also, there are instances where that brilliant and commanding resonance is toned down just a tad -- yet still maintains the three-piece’s identity. Those are apparent on delights like “Youth Salute,” “Nova Scotia” and the ultra mellow “A Hole In The World.”
Made for the Music Head
For Moakes, he hopes music heads can appreciate the band’s versatility and not just their brute force. “You want them to be able to whistle some of the tunes, but also think it's a powerful record,” he adds. “I hope people think it's a rounded record -- that it isn't just a big kick in the face, that there's subtly and beauty there too.”
Promotions for “Crisis Works” began early as Young Legionnaire released one of the songs, “Chapter, Verse” as a free download earlier in the year. Even earlier, back in the summer of 2010, the Brits dropped an EP entitled “Colossus/Iron Man” through Holy Roar Records with original drummer Will Bowerman (who left to concentrate on his other band Brontide). Of particular interest was the single “Colossus.” Aside from being quite the stellar song, the group shot a clever video featuring two assassins attempting to kill each other in a parking garage with invisible guns.
Surprisingly, despite much fanfare, “Colossus” was left off the album. “It was a close call. We'd wanted to re-record it for the record with Rich Jackson so, sonically, it would fit, but we didn't have time. In the end we imagined it as a bonus track rather than on the album itself, so it didn't make the cut,” Moakes reveals. “But it's very much ‘out there,’ and especially with the way the Internet's changed how records are bought and consumed, it doesn't feel like it's totally disconnected from the rest of our music. We still play it virtually every gig.”
People can expect Young Legionnaire to perform “Colossus” and many tracks from “Crisis Works” on the various festivals their slated to appear at this summer.
Still, it appears as if Moakes will be pulling double duty relatively soon. Not only will he continue to support “Crisis Works,” but the bassist is also slated to work on Bloc Party’s upcoming album. “We've discussed the next record and will be putting aside time to start on it towards the end of the year,” Moakes says. “Balancing it will be just like balancing any kind of commitment you have with a band. With Bloc Party, we're that bit older now. I think we're mature enough to make it work and get the right balance.”
- Paul Mullen: Lead Vocals/Guitar
- Gordon Moakes: Bass, Backing Vocals
- Dean Pearson: Drums
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