South coast band Young Pretorians fuse elements of punk and rock in an engaging, feel good throwback sound. In their words, “It’s guitar music and for us that’s the best music” and we certainly can’t disagree with that.
The quartet began when a previous band of Pete Darwent (vocals and guitar) and James Marsh (guitar) wound down and they brought in Mike Parsons (drums) and Will Pearce (bass) to complete the new lineup. The band is the culmination of hundreds of shows, countless songs and the highs and lows of growing up in soulless towns.
As Pete tells us: “I do think that where possible, play music with your mates, it is the best. We’ve known each other for years and years now and I’ve played music with them all before and so it was a really natural fit. I’m lucky that the three of them are not just thoroughly sound human beings but also top musicians and can take my ideas and polish them up. Everyone adds their twist to things and that’s important.”
The quartet come from Southsea, slap bang in the middle of Portsmouth, which they describe as being “a Northern city on the South coast.” As Pete explains: “If you want never ending rows of terraced houses, this is the place for you. There’s a couple hundred thousand of us crammed on a small island along with the Navy, so the place has an edge to it, but we like it.”
The quartet have honed a sound that’s honest, lively and upbeat or, in Pete’s words: “If you lived in a block of flats and the downstairs neighbour listened to Bruce Springsteen, The Replacements and Husker Du, the Upstairs neighbour listened to The Menzingers, Hot Water Music and The Gaslight Anthem and your mate left a load of 90’s British Rock Records at your flat, then we sound like the record you would write.”
Our latest taste of this is their debut EP State Actors, which was released at the end of last month. It opens up with a lively guitar riff in the intro to Desperation Party Scene, which continues into an edgy opening verse and a catchy chorus. It develops into more intense vocals the cries of “Just you wait” before a final blast of the chorus. Check it out in the video below:
That’s followed by No One’s The Saint That They Want To Be, which opens up with a funky riff and feeds into an engaging verse. A melodic chorus gives way to a cool little lick then a verse supported by guitar chords and an atmospheric chorus. A cool lick comes in to support the vocals as the track comes to an energetic ending. The pace drops a little with the more laid back Average Conversations, Between Average People, which you can check out in the video here:
It picks up with the lively You Look The Same, and there’s more of the same on closing track The Shakes. It opens up with a lick over driving drums that feed into an engaging opening verse, which flows into the singalong chorus “This work will surely break your hands as you fight to fulfil their demands, You’ve got to make a living but just who should it serve?, If we just get one time around why run yourself into the ground, For people who don’t give a damn about you.”
A second chorus drops into lighter guitars and vocals before picking up pace and dropping into a final blast of the catchy chorus. Give it a listen in the video here:
On the EP, Pete told us: “We are dead excited to be getting the EP out there. The wait was made longer obviously by Covid, but everyone everywhere has had to place things on hold and so like everyone else we’ve kind of hit the pause button for a year or so! So, we are stoked for people to hear it at last! You put in a lot of time and effort into writing, recording and promoting these things and so anyone taking an interest and listening is top, we really appreciate it!
“The EP has five songs that are all different, but at the same time all work together, we’ve got some faster more punk songs, some rockers and even a slower one. If you are into Punk Rock or Rock music there’s something on there for you. We write the songs we want to hear; we think people will relate to the lyrics and find something they dig about it. It sounds great as well. Neil Kennedy and Kurt Fagan did an amazing job recording and mixing it and we are made up with it. At the end of the day, it’s guitar music and for us that’s the best music.”
The Young Pretorians sound has been heavily shaped by rock and punk bands like Pete’s first musical love Oasis, followed by the likes of The Clash, Bad Religion, Rancid, The Gaslight Anthem and The Menzingers.
As he explains: “For me the punk scene was a gateway into loads of stuff. When I worked my way to The Replacements they had a huge impact on me, they were a bunch of punk kids playing rock and roll songs and that is my thing all over. Once you get into Punk music you can’t escape it, it’ll always be part of what you do and it helps give other styles of music a bit of attitude.
When it comes to what inspires their music, Pete adds: “I do think that you write the song you’re meant to at the time, so it’ll be about what is going on with me or those around me and it will be my take on the situations.
“So common themes are around everyday working life, trying not to let it do you in and focusing on the important things that really matter. Relationships come up, but not always my own and I guess the things in life that we all go through and how we deal with them. I try to put a positive spin on things because ultimately when things are tough we can only control ourselves and our actions and that can be a liberating thing.”
Young Pretorians recently played their first gig post-Covid with a socially distanced, seated show at The Joiners in Southampton. They’re looking to build on that with as many gigs as possible in addition to working on plans to follow up the most recent EP, which could be a couple of standalone singles ahead of going back to the studio for another EP or, potentially, an album.
And Pete adds: “Our music videos have gone from lockdown DIY ones to working with a talented fella called Lewis Loveder, who keeps coming up with cooler and cooler ideas, so it will be fun to see where we go with the next load of videos. We really want to keep the momentum going and take this as far as we can.
“We write honest songs that we think people can relate to. Come say hey, we try and respond to every comment/message where possible. We are made up whenever people take the time to listen and get involved, music is a two-way thing and throwing the songs out there to new people is what it’s all about. So come give us a listen or come down to a gig.”