By now, hopefully, everyone is aware of November’s Doomed and Stoned Festival that’s taking place right here in Indy at the 5th Quarter Lounge. One of the bands on the bill is Topeka, Kansas’ own Youngblood Supercult. If you haven’t heard of them yet, they’re a phenomenal rock band that mixes classic rock, blues, folk and doom metal. Guitarist Bailey Smith was generous enough to take some time to answer a few questions via email about their latest album High Plains, their song writing process and what it’s like being a metal band in Topeka.
Indy Metal Shows: First off, thank you for agreeing to this interview. High Plains has gotten a lot of spins from the IMS crew since it came out in February. How has the reception been?
Bailey Smith: Thanks, Bryan. We’re excited to be a part of this. The reception for High Plains has very much exceeded our initial expectations; it kind of just took off. Of course, we had a lot of word of mouth promotion from different stoner rock blogs that got wind of the album, so we’re grateful that they enjoyed the album and gave it the praise it has received. We had a lot of fun writing and recording it, and we knew it was going to be something others would get into, but the roller coaster ride of its success within the stoner community is something we weren’t necessarily prepared for–we are extremely proud of the album.
IMS: The thing that I really like about High Plains is that is has a very classic rock vibe. Aside from influences like Black Sabbath and Pentragram, parts of “Mind Control” and “Hell Hath No Fury” are reminiscent of early Lynyrd Skynyrd. “Stone Mountain Blues” and “White Nights” have a Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) feel to them. Also, I picked up on some slightly more modern influences as well. The riff at the midpoint of “Forefather” seems inspired by Adam Jones (Tool). Who are your main influences?
BS: Each one of us has our own unique influences–for me personally, you nailed it: Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, CSNY, old folk, blues, and psych, even classic country. The guys have more of a modern palate, intertwined with classic rock. They’re very much more versatile than I am, haha.
IMS: How do you approach song writing? Does it start with a melody, a vocal, or a riff? Is it collaborative?
BS: It really just depends on the day. Most of the time we start with a riff. We have a stack of lyrics that have been written, so often times we’ll try to find a way to fit one of those lyrics to the cadence of the riff, to get a foothold, and then it takes off from there. Sometimes songs grow out of just jamming on something for awhile. Sometimes its the melody that drives the creation of the music itself. So yeah, it’s a mix of everything.
IMS: I’m guessing you all have day jobs. When do you find time to write new material? What methods do you use for capturing a new riff or song idea?
BS: Yes we do. I have a little voice recorder on my phone and a notepad, so when I go out on breaks, I’ll try to create new melodies, or if I come up with some idea for a lyric (which is pretty much constant throughout each day), I’ll scribble it down, or record it. A lot of times they get lost in the shuffle and I’ll remember it later. And we all practice on our own time, so we’ll bring ideas to the table at each rehearsal. It’s just a matter of time management.
IMS: We’ve got some big guitar nerds in IMS. Can you talk us through your rigs? Are they essentially the same in the studio and live?
BS: Yes. I used a Mesa Dual Rec through a Marshall 1960 cab on the live tracking of the album, and for the overdubs I used a Blackstar HT-5R combo. I use the Mesa onstage as well. Minimal pedals–wah, analog delay, sometimes a phaser and octave pedal. All head gain. The bass rig is a vintage Peavey Mark III through a single Peavey cab. Used on both the record and live. We like to keep things simple!
IMS: What the metal scene like in Topeka and how has it changed since you’ve been a part of it? What are some of your favorite local acts?
BS: The Topeka metal scene needs some major overhaul, specifically more venues. We actually feel more at home in Kansas City, which is a little under an hour away. There’s a ton of great groups there with whom we’ve made good friends–Merlin, Keef Mountain, Custom Black, ElectroPossum, Death Valley Wolf Riders–the list goes on. So we play more in KC than anywhere else. It’s more our scene.
IMS: You started a GoFundMe to make some repairs to your van for a summer tour. Anything lined up beyond the summer dates? Also, we’re all excited to see you as part of the Doomed and Stoned Fest in November–how did your involvement in that come about?
BS: Yes, we did. We are trying to plan a circuit tour based around the Doomed and Stoned Fest, so we just want to make sure we are prepared to take the Red Beast on the road, and need all the help we can get. We really appreciated the donations so far–it gives us more peace of mind knowing we can be road ready. As far as D&S came about, I think it was us who got ahold of Melissa when the announcement was made (heck, I can’t remember), and made arrangements to become involved. We are EXTREMELY excited to play this festival. It’s going to be a blast, not just to tear up the stage, but to meet all of these other groups and the people who dedicate their time to D&S to help bands like us get their name out there. And again, we want to thank you guys and everyone involved for making this amazing festival a reality. We can’t wait!
Also, check out their GoFundMe page! Everyone who donates will get a free download code for High Plains, plus their name printed in their next album release and written on their tour van’s ceiling!